There are so many amazing Christmas books to use in school. Here are a few that I have used in the past or am going to be using in the next few weeks.
Cat in the manger by Michael Foreman – This is a wonderful version of the Christmas story from the point of view of a cat in the stable. I have used it many times and after sharing it with the pupils have asked them to think of other narrators that could tell their version of the Christmas tale. One year we did a shared text through the eyes of the donkey. It was a very emotive piece, but also captured the humour of an exhausted creature!
There are lots of Father Christmas books that I dip into leading up to Christmas. If I want any information about traditions I use ‘Father Christmas – All about me’ as it has so many fascinating facts and is set out beautifully. It is great for guided reading in KS 2 as it has all sorts of different text types within it. It even has a pop-out star!
I also use ‘Dear Santa’ by Amy Husband. This if full of letters to father Christmas explaining why sometimes they have been naughty. I use it within an explanation block of work to look at causal connectives and extended sentences, as well as letter writing. There is a lovely sense of humour as well.
I also use ‘How Santa really works’ by Alan Snow with children from Year 2 upwards. We look at the new sleigh in the book and then other designs, . The pupils then design their own version with captions and use it to create their own explanation texts.
It never fails!
‘The Santa Trap’ by Jonathon Emmett and Poly Bernatene links brilliantly with this, as it is all about a boy called Bradley Bartleby who was bad! So bad that he wanted to catch Father Christmas. We watch the film Home Alone and look at the plan that Kevin made for catching the thieves and then imagine how Bradley would try to catch Father Christmas and work out how we can stop him. Again, this book is great for linking to explanation texts.
I have just bought Grumpy Badger’s Christmas by Paul Bright with illustrations by Jane Chapman because it reminds me of Dicken’s Scrooge, but the main character is an old grumpy badger! The illustrations are beautiful and it really helps to tell the story of this woodland Christmas.
I have certain book characters that I keep going back to and I love all the Olivia books as she is an extremely feisty and individual pig! If you haven’t read any of them then I highly recommend them, as they are fantastic for character studies and looking at how illustrations can give you extra information that sometimes works against the text. Brilliant for comprehension work! She has such attitude!
I also love all of the Scaredy Squirrel series. I even have the glove puppet. ‘Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Christmas’ by Melanie Watt has so many different text types within it that you could use it for all your teaching leading up to the end of term. This little chap is frightened of everything, so you get his safety guide for surviving the Christmas season. There is a great holiday plan showing you how to overcome holiday shopping traffic and even how to keep the Abominable Snowman at bay. I love the illustrations of his survival kits that she includes in all of the different books. This one has a labelled diagram of Scaredy’s crafting safety clothing. He even has a football helmet to protect him from falling Christmas ornaments. Do have a look at the series as they can be used with every age group!
There are also lots of great picture books set during the winter‘The Big Dark’ by John Prater is a magical story about Chinoo searching through the night for the sun. Along the way he meets a variety of creatures who come on the journey with him and his family.
Another simple but beautifully written story is ‘Little Robin Red Vest’ by Jan Fearnley about a robin’s story about keeping warm at Christmas. The follow up ‘Little Robin’s Christmas’ goes onto to tell the tale about the generous bird who then gives out all his Christmas vests to help others. Lots of repetitive language as each day it is closer to Christmas and the Robin helps another character. I am a keen knitter and have got a little Robin finger puppet and am hoping to knit some vests/jumpers (if I can learn how to survive without any sleep and find time to knit!) so that I can use them for retelling the story with reception/key stage 1.