Literacy Lalapalooza #2 – Gifts & Tips December

Our Literacy Lalapalooza is a year-long celebration of the Reading Tub’s 10th Anniversary. Beginning last month and through all of 2013, we will open each month with a post offering literacy-related ideas and tips for reading with and engaging kids with reading and writing.

Not everything will be about children’s books nor will it necessarily be a product. Our goal is literacy engagement: finding ways to connect WITH our kids as they begin their own journey as readers, writers, creators, and successful people. Each post will have …

  1. Idea for literacy and reading.
  2. Tools and/or Resources suggestions (e.g., websites, games, toys)
  3. Book ideas, one for each reading group: 0-4, 5-9, 10&Up

Suggestions for children’s books are drawn from our family reviewers. Each month’s collection will vary, but could include a picture book, picture book for developing readers, easy reader, illustrated chapter book, or full length chapter book. We also hope that if you have seasonal favorites in a given month that you add your recommendations in the comments!

1 Literacy Idea: Grab the Cookie Cutters

Christmas cookie cutters
sourece: Morguefile

There are so many ways to add literacy to your kitchen this time of year!

Snowflakes, stars, hearts, a variety of sizes, different colors … all begging to be sorted! Read recipes and bake together!

When you aren’t using them, let the kids make puppets and bring the cookie cutters to life.

2 Literacy Tools / Resource Suggestions

With holiday preparation in full swing, it’s nice to have some activities for the kids that do “double duty.” These ideas can come in handy for channeling the energy of excited kids and staving off boredom … not to mention sneaking in a little learning.

The Video Camera … Make a home movie! Whether you supervise little ones or let the teens take charge, let the kids spend the afternoon with a video camera (or just a camera) and make a holiday flick or slideshow. This would be a fun project for siblings to do together, too. Here are some starter ideas for themes …

kid video filming
  • letters to / lists for Santa.
  • autobiography of their three favorite things about the year
  • biography of the things they like most about a sibling or relative
  • an original skit / movie
  • music video of their favorite song / holiday song



screen time for kids

Screen time … with a holiday focus. There’s no avoiding the pleas for playing on the computer, so why not use it to your advantage with educational, holiday-themed websites? In addition to Yahoo! Voices “Top 10 Christmas Websites for Kids, (dated 2009, but still excellent), we found a wonderful collection of sites at Spartacus Educational. You’ll find everything from sites to make your own games (which they can create for their siblings and friends) to Christmas at the White House and a holiday-themed How Stuff Works

3 Books Recommendations

December is synonymous with the words holiday, Christmas, and snow! There are so many wonderful seasonal books to share. It’s Read a New Book month, so grab one to share on National Cookie Day (4th), National Cocoa Day (13th), or on the Winter Solstice (21st) … and don’t forget books make some of the best gifts!

Infant / Toddler Audience (ages newborn to 4)

Waiting for Winter
written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Kane Miller Books, a Division of EDC Publishing, ©2009

 A squirrel, a hedgehog and a bear are determined to stay awake (not hibernate) until they can see a winter snow. They find creative ways to keep themselves from falling asleep, and use the description of snow as dictated by a deer, to see if they can find it. They find other things that are “soft, white and cold,” and it is funny to imagine those items falling from the sky like snow.

Kids instantly fall in love with the silly story and fun, active illustrations. Because it is largely wordless, the kids can also make up their own story as they “read.” It is also an introduction to hibernation.. Read the Reading Tub review.

Emerging & Developing Readers (ages 5 to 9)

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time
by James Howe; illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Candlewick Press, ©2008

Houndsley and Catina love many things, but snowstorms are not one of them. Catina doesn’t like being stuck inside. She has plans, and a concert! With Houndsley’s help, Catina learns that being snowed in does have it’s own kind of fun. This is an easy reader chapter book with illustrations to help transitional readers.

This is an easy reader has a story that is perfect for a snowy day … or just remembering one. The watercolor illustrations draw out the coolness of the season, yet make you feel warm inside, too. Read the Reading Tub review.

Middle Grade & Young Adults (Ages 10 and Up)

An Orphan’s Promise: A Christmas Story
written by Dan J. Davis; illustrated by Christina E. Siravo
Second Star Creations, ©2006

Ruby has a plan, and she has convinced the headmistress at the orphanage that it will work. With the winter winds blowing and after four days’ journey, Ruby reaches the Kloss house. She immediately volunteers to work as a carpenter’s apprentice. It is 1910, and girls do not become carpenters. But Mrs. Kloss has her own thoughts on the subject! Ruby has found a place in the world. But is it her home?

Enchanting. This is a holiday chapter book about personal discovery, faith, and family. The story offers characters with depth, and artfully weaves a number of Christmas themes together: Christ’s birth, Santa, the legend of the reindeer, and the true spirit of Christmas. Read the Reading Tub review.

Wrapping it Up

With so many wonderful books – not to mention seasonal favorites – it is so hard to narrow down our choices. Whether you’re looking for Christmas or Hannukah stories; books with snow or winter themes, or ideas built around your young reader’s favorite subject, visit the Reading Tub to see what our families are sharing with their kids.

To those who have also subscribed to the Literacy Lalapalooza newsletter we hope that the new ideas here complement the recommendations and tips you got in your mailbox. Its not too late … we have another thirteen months of Literacy Lalapalooza celebrations ahead.

Have some favorite children’s or young adult books that make great gifts or new family traditions? Reviewed them on your blog? Please share your faves! Its not a party without you.

4 responses to “Literacy Lalapalooza #2 – Gifts & Tips December

  1. There must be something in the air – I have just started a week of Christmaspalooza! Love the idea of using cookie cutters as puppets, Terry. So often, it’s these simple easy ideas that are winners.

    1. If only cookie cutters came to life … I remember wishing my dolls could talk when I was a kid, so why not the Gingerbread Man?

      Thanks for stopping by, Susan. Hope you’ll sign up for the newsletter version to get twice as much creative literacy fun each month.

      1. Yes. There is a signup just for the Literacy Lalapalooza … if you get the Wash Rag, you just need to check “Literacy Lalapalooza’ in your profile if you want to receive each Literacy Lalapalooza newsletter. It has a whole different 1-2-3 set of ideas. Here’s the update profile link.

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