Psst…..Starting tomorrow….

Starting tomorrow, My Mama’s Goodnight will be posting a holiday children’s book recommendation every day until Christmas! Consider it my little gift to you…the best Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and all-around holiday books to tuck into with your little ones this season…See you tomorrow!

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Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books, or Second Only to FDR

In honor of my son’s second most favorite President (he runs closely behind F.D.R. for reasons we’ll get into later), I wanted to share with you a wonderful book about Abraham Lincoln. Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books is the story of our 16th President and how the words he read as a child and the books that surrounded him led him to an extraordinary life. Lincoln has been much in the press lately, what with the recent movie starring Daniel Day Lewis, which my husband and I are eager to see this weekend. This book is a wonderful entrance into the life and wonder of Mr. Lincoln.  Little Abe, who practiced spelling in the dust outside of his log cabin, adored reading and this book captures all that is wonderful about a life filled with books. Children will not only learn cool new facts about President Lincoln, but will understand his simple beginnings that were made spectacular by his imagination and love of education. Kay Winters’ words and Nancy Carpenter’s beautifully painted illustrations make this book a classic. This is, by far, one of my favorite books on Lincoln and one I hope you will share with your kids, too.

When You Were Small, or Asleep in a Slipper

Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad may be the finest writer/illustrator team since Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake. Their utterly lovely book, “When You Were Small”, is a feast of words and pictures the likes of which I have not seen in some time. Henry is a little boy who, like most children, likes to hear about when he was small. So, his loving father, with a penchant for exaggeration and wit, spins tales of Henry’s infancy when he could sleep in his father’s left slipper and bathe in a teapot. The whimsy with which O’Leary’s words spill forth is perfectly matched by Morstad’s gorgeous drawings. This is a match (and a book) made in Heaven. I would recommend reading it every night…right after your warm and fragrant teapot bath.

What! Cried Granny, or The Crotchety Substitute

I recently substituted in a 2nd grade classroom (Miss Nelson has nothing on me!) and brought along this book in case there were a few free minutes to fill. Luckily for me, those darling children finished their math lesson with time to spare, leaving me plenty of time to share this, my favorite bedtime story. If ever there existed a book that truly captures the lengths that grandparents will go for their grandchildren, I offer Kate Lum’s What! Cried Granny. In it, a little boy is visiting his Granny for a sleep-over. When it’s discovered that the boy doesn’t have a bed, Granny comes to the rescue with hammer and nails and a few coats of paint. Need a blankie? Granny’ll dye the wool.  Come without your teddy bear? Granny will make a a giant one from scratch. My grandma Deedles used to scratch my back until I fell asleep. And my grandpa Pumpy used to stand in the kitchen with a white dish towel over his shoulder and make foot-high stacks of waffles for me and let me put as much powdered sugar on them as I wanted. And this book reminds me of those million little moments and smile. . I adore this book and so do my boys and so did my little 2nd graders who hooted and hollered when I read it out loud and use a crotchety old lady voice for Granny. The illustrations by Adrian Johnson are divine and the book speaks to the sheer lengths we’ll go to for the little ones we love…

This is New York

As the boys and I prepare for our Thanksgiving trip to New Jersey, we are anxiously awaiting a fun family day in Manhattan. Brunch with friends, a Broadway play in the afternoon, a drink at the Harvard Club…Heaven. And with the devastation caused by Sandy and the reminder to us all just how incredible and impermeable the spirit of that city is, what better way to celebrate this gorgeous metropolis than by reading Miroslav Sasek’s beautiful book, “This is New York”…one in a series of books dedicated to introducing young children to the most wonderful cities in the world. Originally published in 1960, Sasek’s inimitable illustrations of New York and the brilliant and irreverent way in which he shares the history of Manhattan are what make this book a must-have for any family. It’s a literal treasure-trove of all the best New York has to offer and, even today, could serve as a tourist map of must-see attractions. Find a copy, treat yourself to a one-way ticket there and give the New York Public Library Lions a pat on the head from me.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving, or The Unexpected Guest

Eve Buntings, “A Turkey for Thanksgiving” is my all-time favorite Turkey Day tale. In it, Mr. and Mrs. Moose are hosting Thanksgiving for all of their woodland friends. Mrs Moose sends Mr Moose out on an errand to get a real turkey for the event. Mr Moose is soon joined by Rabbit, Porcupine and Goat – all ready to get the turkey for their feast. As you  would imagine, poor Turkey is terrified – picturing himself roasted and stuffed to the gizzards. But what really happens, is as touching and heartwarming as any moment I can recall. A great read-aloud book for your younger guests that will make you hungry for more.

My Mama's Goodnight

My sons are fascinated by the election. They marvel at the signs on the backs of people’s cars, the posters in people’s yards, the commercials touting the merits (or demerits) of this candidate over the other. My older son, in particular, is a bit of a policy wonk (a child after my own heart!) and prides himself on his knowledge of not only the Presidents through history but the fun facts associated with them. (A portly President Taft getting stuck in the Presidential bathtub, for example…) He’s even started writing his own campaign speeches and slogans (“Go Big! Go Zig!”). He’s very interested in watching the Conventions as well and so we have, as a family, watched it all. No matter my or my husband’s political leanings, we want to instill in our kids the notion of making their own decisions. Of knowing the issues and learning about the beliefs…

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