Saturday, August 2, 2008
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons
I haven't had a lot of time for making a dent in my to-be-read pile lately, so this morning, I decided to look at one of the picture books in the pile. I was so delighted when I found Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Ann Krouse Rosenthal, and illustrated by Jane Dyer. This is a book I got from a whole table of ARCs back in June from my favorite children's bookstore, Cover to Cover.
This book is incredibly sweet, whimsical, and smart! I think this book is probably designed for younger readers (Grade 3 and below), but I could definitely see myself using this in my 5th grade classroom, also. It's a book that deals with vocabulary, traditions, and cookies -- a winning trio in my opinion!
Each page starts with a vocabulary word embedded in a sentence that focuses on the baking of Christmas cookies. It is accompanied by a Dyer illustration. For example, the second page:
each year at the same time we make the same
cookies and wear our special matching aprons.
The illustrations on the pages about tradition are 3 polka-dotted aprons in different sizes under the text, and on the opposite page, a picture of a girl, a dog, and a rabbit, all in their aprons, stirring something in a bowl.
Having the animals as some of the main characters, is what makes this story so whimsical. It's also one of the reasons I think this story would appeal more to younger readers.
Some of the other vocabulary addressed in this book: anticipation, appreciative, disappointed, celebrate, prosperity, charitable, responsible, moderation, reciprocate, frustrated, perseverance, selfish, thoughtful, lonely, sharing, gratitude, family, gracious, believe, joy, peace, and hope.
What fabulous vocabulary and concepts to share with children!! And having it put into a context that involves baking cookies, an activity with which some children might have background knowledge, really helps readers to understand each vocabulary word.
I can envision this book being a starting point for an entire conversation about other cultures and their holidays and traditions. I also see this format as a wonderful one to share with older students as a possible model for their own writing.
When reading the front jacket flap, I discovered that this book is a follow-up to an earlier book by Rosenthal called Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. If it's even half as good as Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons, it would be a book to add to your collection. The Christmas Cookies book is not due out until the end of September, but it is most definitely a book to remember!! And how can you not enjoy an author who makes cookies the platform for teaching life lessons and vocabulary lessons to children??!!