Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rewind to Monday: Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus!

Both of these books arrived in my mailbox, awaiting the perfect opportunity, today! As Christmas approaches, so increases childrens' attention in Santa and Mrs. Claus! Hopefully these books can be enjoyed by your family!

Greven, Alec.
How to Talk to Santa.
September 2009.
Review Copy Provided Courtesy of: HarperCollins Publishers

If this book isn't inspirational for aspiring young writers everywhere, I don't know what is! How to Talk to Santa is the lasted book in ten-year-old Alec Greven's How to Talk to... series, and it's a perfect read for your middle-grade child (8-12 year old) this holiday season! Not only is the entire book chuck full of humor, it's also pretty educational in the topics Alec covers, teaching your children everything they'll need to know about Santa, starting with the countdown to Christmas. Other topics about Santa's impending arrive are: being naughty; being nice; making a list and checking it twice; cookies, carrots and Christmas Eve; and Santa's arrival. The (not so true) truth about Santa is also covered in the last topic, but not in the sense that it reveals the mystery of "Santa" that would likely have some devastating impact on your child who still believes... however, the way it is written, older children might begin to wonder...

This is definitely a book I will be sharing at Christmas time in a classroom of my own. I think it's important because it shows young children that their words are inspiring and meaningful to many more people that they might think... if they are able to see someone their own age as a successful writer, I think it will be easier to motivate the writing process in children!

Learning/Reading Activity:

Explain to children that this is really a book of tips... information that young Alec has learned through his years and picked up on without directly being told. Have each child create his/her own version of How to Talk to Santa, titled, ___________ Family/Class Tips on How to Talk to Santa. They should be creative in creating at least one tip for each of the seven chapters Alec included in his book:
  1. The Countdown
  2. Being Naughty
  3. Being Nice
  4. Making a List and Checking It Twice
  5. Cookies, Carrots, and Christmas Eve
  6. Santa is Here!
  7. The Truth About Santa
Have them create a comic-like illustration to accompany each tip. Combine all the tips according to chapter into a family or class book that can be shared for years to come!

Claus, Elsbeth.
Mrs. Claus Explains It All.
November 2008.
Review Copy Provided Courtesy of: Sourcebooks Jaberwocky

Sure, we all know that each year, Santa receives millions of letters from children beginning around the Thanksgiving holiday. However, here we learn that Santa isn't the only hero of the North Pole, as the answerer of all those letters from children is none other than Mrs. Elsbeth Claus herself! After revealing that she's the responder of childrens' letters to Santa, she goes on to explain that each year, alongside the wish lists, Mr. and Mrs. Claus also receive millions of questions from children all over the world. Here, she takes the time to answer many of those questions and let's out some of the mysterious secrets of life at the North Pole.

The book is somewhat lengthy in its repetitiveness with a question/answer format. However, it would be perfect to share as a daily question/answer period each day leading up to Christmas... read one, two, or even three of the questions and answers together with your children! It's definitely a different take on a Christmas picture book, but I think it's well worth sharing!

Learning/Reading Activity:

If you have are a parent or teacher of young children and are noticing them struggling with the concept of asking a question vs. telling, this book (and topic) will definitely help them distinguish the difference between the two... simply share the questions (tell the children, "Here's the next QUESTION...) and then say, (Mrs. Claus says...) After reviewing several of the questions/answers... prompt them to ask Mrs. Claus a question of their own! To make this even a more fun activity, collaborate with your school's older students to write answers in response to the children's questions! This will allow the use of Mrs. Claus Explains It All to be turned into a writing project!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to