THE TOMTEN by Astrid Lindgren
We always know it’s the holiday season when The Tomten finds its way into the reading basket. Even though my kids are older now and we’ve always inclined toward chapter books for our family readalouds, this sweet winter picture book is essential holiday reading at our house, and I think your family might love it, too.
The Tomten is a kindly Swedish creature who — when winter is at its darkest and chilliest — wakes up from his dreams to remind animals (and any children who happen to be awake) that spring is coming. Busy grown-ups can’t hear the Tomten’s silent language as he quietly makes his way around the farm, but that’s okay: The Tomten is watching over those grown-ups, too, as he keeps his winter vigil. The Tomten is either a troll-ish gnome or a gnome-ish troll; either way, he’s a white-bearded, pointy-capped mythical creature who channels the hope of spring in the chill dark of winter.
And that’s it, really — nothing much happens in this little picture book, with its spare language and dark, dreamy illustrations of a snowbound farm. But there’s something about its magical quietness that captures the way I want the holidays to feel: peaceful, patient, and a little bit enchanted. We read this book and make rice pudding for the Tomten (we eat some, too!), and it feels as though the season of joy and celebration has arrived in the best possible way.
Logic lovers, reluctant readers, and everyone who loves a good puzzle will enjoy these short stories mysteries.
The earliest days of U.S. history come to life in this readaloud about the James Town settlement of 1607.
The future Black Panther gets an early start on being a superhero when he's sent to middle school in the city of Chicago. A fun, fast-paced middle grades novel that will get you ready for the upcoming movie.
Naturalist John James Audubon's biography comes to life in this gorgeous graphic novel that's a must-read for every bird lover.
An imaginary friend discovers that he's imaginary and sets off on a whimsical quest to find himself in this odd but lovely book.
Sometimes you want a readaloud that's pure comfort read. The Children of Noisy Village is a good bet.
The Herdmans wreak havoc on a traditional holiday pageant and end up creating a Christmas story that is surprisingly touching in this laugh-out-loud classic.
In this funny, old-fashioned story, two Dalmatian parents set off to rescue their kidnapped puppies. It's so much more fun than the movie!
In this old-fashioned story, a homeless man finds a family and new joy in holiday Paris.
Thanksgiving gets weird when a butcher mishap leads a kid to a 266-pound chicken.
Here's a Thanksgiving readaloud that considers the Native American perspective in a thoughtful, family friendly way.