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??!!


  1. Cookies, the first one is one of my very favorite books. I am glad you reminded me. I am going to pull it out again. THANKS!

  2. ...and how can you not love a book about the holidays that has MODERATION as one of the key vocabulary words! HUZZAH!

  3. Ooo, I can't wait to get his one!!
    I loved Cookies!