Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I remember the first time I read Little Women, and the impact I felt while reading Louisa May Alcott's description of the March sisters bravely celebrating Christmas, struggling to be happy though their father was away at war.
Jessie Wilcox Smith's Little Women
I'm a bit choked up even now as I re-read the opening words of Chapter Two:  about how Marmee, with her steadfast determination, is wisely trying to raise her girls to become generous and loving human beings.  I recall wondering if I could have given up my Christmas breakfast the way these Little Women did...

Jo was the first to wake in the gray dawn of Christmas morning. No stockings hung at the fireplace, and for a moment she felt as much disappointed as she did long ago, when her little sock fell down because it was crammed so full of goodies. Then she remembered her mother's promise and, slipping her hand under her pillow, drew out a little crimson-covered book. She knew it very well, for it was that beautiful old story of the best life ever lived, and Jo felt that it was a true guidebook for any pilgrim going on a long journey. 

She woke Meg with a Merry Christmas, and bade her see what was under her pillow. A green-covered book appeared, with the same picture inside, and a few words written by their mother, which made their one present very precious in their eyes. Presently Beth and Amy woke to rummage and find their little books also, one dove-colored, the other blue, and all sat looking at and talking about them, while the east grew rosy with the coming day...

"Merry Christmas, Marmee! Many of them! Thank you for our books. We read some, and mean to every day," they all cried in chorus.

"Merry Christmas, little daughters! I'm glad you began at once, and hope you will keep on. But I want to say one word before we sit down.  Not far away from here lies a poor woman with a little newborn baby. Six children are huddled into one bed to keep from freezing, for they have no fire. There is nothing to eat over there, and the oldest boy came to tell me they were suffering hunger and cold. My girls, will you give them your breakfasts a Christmas present?"

Other childhood favorites that come to mind are O. Henry's Gift of the Magi (which I blogged about HERE last year) and the family Christmas recollections penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I was about five when my mom read aloud Little House in the Big Woods to me, and I remember Laura getting her first doll, made of rags, who she named "Charlotte".  In subsequent books, Laura was always given simple, yet greatly appreciated gifts, such as something homemade by her mother and a candy stick, or copper penny.  It made me thankful for my own presents, which seemed fit for a princess in comparison to Laura and Mary's gifts!

Here are a few more Christmas stories with beautiful messages.  Did I leave out your favorites?

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden with illustrations by Barbara Cooney, is about expectation, love, generosity, and finding a home. A little orphan girl wishes for a family, and for a doll like the one she sees in a shop window. The doll, in turn, wishes for a little girl who can take care of her. There is also a sad couple who wishes for a family. You can probably guess what happens in this sweet and sentimental story, ages 5 and up

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (click title to read my post), ages 5 and up.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! by Barbara Robinson (click title to read my post), ages 9 and up.


  1. I just love your blog and read it regularly. Jessie Willcox Smith is one of my favorite illustrators! After seeing her name spelled two different ways, I researched to see which was correct and found there are two l's in Willcox. Thanks again for a blog dedicated to good books for children!

  2. Yes, I keenly remember reading the Little House books with my parents and then 2 years ago when we read them together with my own girls! Charlotte her doll...and maple syrup making. I will look for Holly & Ivy...sounds like a sweet story. I hope you have a joyful Christmas!

  3. Jessie Willcox Smith it is, then - thank you, Patricia! :)