This year, we trekked down to Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch in San Jose. Far…near Coyote Valley. It was perfect. Not too commercial, not too much traffic (although I started working at 6 am so I we could leave in the early afternoon on a weekday), pumpkins laid out beautifully, an interactive learning center, a mini-hay bale maze, giant orange chairs, a sunflower field and of course, rides! Namely, a train, a hay-ride, and a barrel train ride. And this doesn’t even include the petting zoo or pony rides, which are weekend-only attractions. Continue reading “Pumpkins, Hay Rides and Sunflower Fields”→
A dear friend shared this C.S. Lewis quote on Easter Sunday and it resonated with me deeply:
There is a stage in a child’s life at which it cannot separate the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter. I have been told of a very small and very devout boy who was heard murmuring to himself on Easter morning a poem of his own composition which began ‘Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen’. This seems to me, for his age, both admirable poetry and admirable piety. But of course the time will soon come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity. He will become able to distinguish the spiritual from the ritual and festal aspect of Easter; chocolate eggs will no longer be sacramental. And once he has distinguished he must put one or the other first. If he puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.
Two years ago, when Carter was just four months old, I started collecting Christmas books to create a picture book advent calendar. It was this search for Christmas books that inspired my journey into writing – at the time, I couldn’t find any Christmas books featuring children of color. This led to a strong impression to write books of my own. I have embraced the journey so far!
Our collection has grown and changed over the past two years as I add new books and put some on hold for later years. I’ve made an effort to include books with children of color, classics, religious themes, and humor. Each year, I wrap and number the books and put them under our tree.
Please forgive the Amazon links and if possible, support your local bookstore! This year’s collection includes:
An Angel Just like Me written by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu: A young African-American boy needs to find an angel for the family Christmas tree but can only find angels with blond hair. He goes on a mission to find an angel that looks like him and discovers that angels, like his friends, can come in many colors.
The Birds of Bethlehem written and illustrated by Tommie dePaola: The nativity story told from the perspective of the birds who witnessed it.
The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher written by Robert Kraus, illustrated by Vip: On Christmas Eve, the Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher steals all the sprinkles for Christmas sugar cookies! A story told in funny rhymes.
The Christmas Star written by Paloma Wensell, illustrated by Ulises Wensell: Two young children follow the brightest star and bring their favorite toys to baby Jesus. They receive the most beautiful gift in return.
Dream Snow written and illustrated by Eric Carle: A lift-the-flap book in which snowstorm covers an old farmer and his animals. When the farmer awakes, he remembers he has a Christmas surprise for everyone!
The First Christmas by Jan Pienkowski: Beautiful artwork with verses from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.
Joy to the World written and illustrated by Tommie dePaola: Three beloved Christmas stories in one! This collection includes The Night of Las Posadas, The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and The Legend of the Poinsettia.
King Island Christmas written by Jean Rogers, illustrated by Rie Munoz: Eskimos help a stranded priest reach their village in time to celebrate Christmas.
The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg: A young boy takes a magical trip on a midnight train to the North Pole.
Room for a Little One written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft: Animals welcome each other one by one into a warm stable. A donkey carrying a pregnant woman is welcomed in. That night, a little one is born.
Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas written and illustrated by Robin Pingk: A young ninja wants to have an epic snowball fight on Christmas but none of the good little ninjas will join him for fear of ending up on Santa’s naughty list. He concocts a plan to get rid of Santa, but will Samurai Santa get in the way?
The Snowman written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs: A snowman comes to life and shares an adventure with a young boy. A story told entirely in pictures.
Snowmen at Christmas written by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner: On Christmas Eve, the snowmen come to life and have festivities of their own!
Too Many Tamales written by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez: Christmas Eve is going perfectly for Maria until she loses her mother’s diamond ring in the tamale mix. She and her cousins will have to eat all the tamales to find the ring or Christmas will be ruined!
Tree of Cranes written and illustrated by Alan Say: As a Japanese young boy recovers from a cold, his mother folds paper cranes to decorate a tree. She reminisces about her Christmases in California and introduces him to his first Christmas tree.
When Christmas Feels like Home written by Gretchen Griffith, illustrated by Carolina Farias: Eduardo is homesick after moving to the Unites States from Mexico. His family promises him that he will feel at home by Christmas.