Ah, winter reading. Best by the fireside, but also good in any cozy corner with tea, cocoa, or a pile of cookies. For your winter reading basket, here are a few suggestions.
You’ve seen the film, but have you read the book?
The 101 Dalmatians might be in a dusty 1990’s VHS case in your family room, but you’ll find a new appreciation for the story from Dodie Smith’s original novel. The dogs' journey from Suffolk to London, was edge-of-my-seat tense in some sections, despite my confidence that they would arrive safely at home. There is a sweet scene in which the puppies take a short refuge in a church building (omitted in the film). It's a reverent passage; the peace of the place impacts the dogs significantly. An enjoyable read-aloud for the whole family.
If your only exposure to Little Women was a film version or (worse) the Great Illustrated Classics edition, I can safely suggest that you’ll be swept away by the delightful original. You know the story: four sisters and the winding trail of their growing-up years, each on a different path toward womanhood. Recommended reading for women of all ages.
There’s Jim Carrey, the Muppets, Mickey Mouse, George C. Scott, and probably at least 100 more film renditions of Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas novella. Choose your favorite for annual Christmas movie night, but consider reading the original A Christmas Carol as well. Excellent reading for December evenings.
This illustrated adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale retells one of Shakespeare’s most unique dramas. While it’s not specifically “wintry,” it’s a good tale for wintertime with many of Shakespeare’s favorite tropes: mistaken identity, royalty, travelers from foreign lands, and romance. If you’re a new initiate to Shakespeare, enjoy this as a starting point. If you like it, read the original next! (Content note: The story includes an allusion to adultery and questionable paternity. The accusations, however, are unfounded.)
The Ladybug Girl collection has been making frequent appearances in our library pile. Each story follows Lulu, aka Ladybug Girl, through an ordinary childhood experience (getting lost, being afraid, feeling discouraged) with rich illustrations and perceptive narration. Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow shows Lulu finding her snow day less than magical, but eventually seeing things from a new perspective. The stories also include Lulu’s brother and parents, which sets a comforting frame for Lulu’s adventures.
If you’re looking for new Christmas tunes, consider Rain for Roots, a Christian songwriting group who specializes in Scripture-based songs for kids. Don’t think Psalty or VeggieTales though. These are beautiful songs you’ll be glad to have “stuck” in your head. Their advent album, Waiting Songs, is a combination of Christmas hymns, scripture set to song, and advent-story ballads. Warm and calming.
Add some poetry to your reading this winter, even if it’s not Winter Poems, a collection selected by Barbara Rogasky. I chose this one for the illustrator, Trina Schart Hyman, one of my favorites for children’s book illustrations.
For the New Year
Elisabeth Elliot, missionary widow and servant of God for decades encourages and exhorts in her sweet collection of essays, Keep a Quiet Heart. If your heart is noisy as the turn of the New Year approaches, consider putting this one at the top of your stack for early morning or late-night reading. Or buy in bulk and stash a copy in everyone’s Christmas stocking.
Devotionals come and devotionals go. Sometimes it’s hard to find one worth sticking with for a full twelve months. The promises of God, however, don’t expire or become outdated. Spurgeon’s The Promises of God may be just what your family needs in 2022.
Interested in more Christmas-specific titles? Check out last year’s Christmas edition of Endpapers.