Holiday Favorites: Wendy

December 19, 2012 2012, discussion post, holiday favorites, Wendy 49

Our week of holiday favorites continues!

While I am fond of Little Women and A Christmas Carol, the holiday stories I love best are definitely children’s books. Tucked away from the bustle and commercialism of our modern adult lives, here are some of the classics I revisit again and again whenever I need to experience the wonder of human kindness and the transformative power of faith and love.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

One Christmas Eve, a boy receives a stuffed rabbit in his stocking. If you’ve ever had an attachment to a toy from your childhood, you’ll love this beautiful picture book, which overflows with tenderness and wisdom. I strongly recommend the edition with the David Jorgensen illustrations, or the film version that is a faithful word-for-word reading of the text by incomparable Meryl Streep.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

This hilarious middle grade novel follows the horrible Herdman kids, who lie and swear and do all kinds of things nice children have no business doing. But lo and behold, the school’s annual pageant brings out all kinds of unexpected behavior…

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

This charming series is about a group of 5 bookish sisters growing up in early 1900s New York. These old fashioned books are brimming with warm family feeling, as well as lovely depictions of traditional Jewish customs observed throughout the different holidays.

Little House Series  

No stories embody the spirit of the holiday season for me more than Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, however. (I even made Little House Christmas stockings one year!) Laura’s joy in simple things and the earnest desire to do good by others are things that speak deeply to my own beliefs, and the Ingalls’ sacrifices during the harder years are always particularly humbling to experience.  Brr, that long, long winter! They’re the perfect books to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.

While each of these books have a bittersweet quality to them, the holiday stories I respond to most deeply are the ones that are left relatively untouched by cynicism and selfishness. It’s hard enough to be an adult, but Christmastime brings back a little bit of the innocence of our childhoods. It’s nice to believe in magic…even if it’s just for a little while.

Check out my fellow bloggers’ cozy winter reads:

K.’s Holiday Favorites
Tonya’s Holiday Favorites 

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season! What are some of your favorite books to curl up with during the winter?

49 Responses to “Holiday Favorites: Wendy”

  1. Alexa Y.

    I LOVE The Little House series! Seriously, one of my favorites and one of the books that I remember reading at a very early age. So glad you reread them!

  2. A Canadian Girl

    I’ve only read the Little House series – loved it! – so I guess I need to check out some of these other books. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever sounds hilarious; I think it would also be a good recommendation for my little brother and cousin.

  3. Rachel

    The Velveteen Rabbit has such beautiful illustrations, I think that’s a wonderful choice! I also loved Little House stories, I read them to my daughter when she was younger. Have a happy and safe holiday, Wendy, and thanks for sharing all these lovelies! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      There are many different versions of The Velveteen Rabbit, but this one has always been my favorite.

      I love that you read Little House with your daughter–so cozy! Hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season. :)

  4. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I am with you that the best holiday stories are kids books. Laura Ingalls books are a favorite of mine as well. Can you believe that I haven’t read The Velveteen Rabbit? I really need to rectify that. Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

  5. Sarah (saz101)

    Wendy. The Velveteen Rabbit… you… you’re going to make me cry just thinking about it. I seriously haven’t read the rest but but but… I’ll fix this :D

    *runs off to cry into pillow*

  6. Candace

    Thank you for reminding me! I was going to read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to my kids this year and I totally forgot to dig it out. I remember laughing like a maniac reading that book, but it’s been a very long time. I think the Little House books are a good choice, especially that one. All of a Kind Family isn’t one I’ve heard of before. I’m going to check it out! Bookish sisters sounds like a win to me!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, awesome Candace! I think it’s time for me to reread that one, too, I haven’t read it in a long time. I think it still holds up even for adults.

      And yes, please do try the AOAKF (<--whoa) series--it is one of my favorite middle grade reads. The very first chapter of the very first book is about one of the girls losing her library book and the distress that causes. You get such a thorough (but age appropriate) look at what it was like to grow up poor in the lower East side of New York just as this country was beginning to form. It's a great book to read with your kids. Oh jeez. Now I want to reread those, too!

  7. Molly Baez

    The Velveteen Rabbit is such a lovely story. I haven’t read that in many years and will have to pick up a copy for my little man.

    One story I read every year at my mom’s house is How Six Found Christmas. I am not even sure it is in print anymore, but a special story of how six unlikely companions can make Christmas out of anything beautiful. If you come across it you should snatch it up!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hi Molly! *waves*

      I’m so glad so many friends love The Velveteen Rabbit, too! It still makes my heart ache after all these years. And oooh, I will definitely be on the lookout for the book you mentioned. Thank you for the tip!

  8. KM

    Cute topic!!! The only ones I’ve read are the Little House books. Well. My dad read them to me when I was little, I guess that counts. Lol But they weren’t my favorite… I kept waiting for Ma and Pa to get beamed up by aliens or something. :-)

  9. Wendy Darling

    I have to fly up there and lock you in a room with all the books I want you to read, don’t I?! I am beside myself that you’ve yet to read these, plus Anne, plus Emily…and those are just the older titles. :(

    On a happier note, I loved SHADOW AND BONE! :D You were totally right.

  10. K.

    Wonderful list, Wendy. Haven’t read most of these but now I’m thinking I need to fill my childhood with a couple more stories :)

    I used to have the Little House set. My parents bought them for me but…I never read them. Stop staring at me like that!!

  11. The Teen Book Guru

    HIII WENDYYY!!!!!!!!! How have you been?? I missed you and your posts! Sorry I’ve been kinda absent lately- I was on a short blogging break but I’m back and WOW what a great list of books. I especially love the Velveteen Rabbit!!!! Great post as always, Wendy. Merry christmas! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Wellll hi!! Welcome back, and merry merry to you , too. :) I think a lot of bloggers have found it hard to balance life and blogging recently, so don’t feel bad. I’m glad you’re a Velveteen Rabbit fan, too! Pssst…I even have a plushie. :)

      Hope to see you posting again soon!

  12. Sophie

    The Velveteen Rabbit is also one of my favorites from my childhood! It’s amazing how much depth children’s books can have. Now I’m reading the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to my little sister every night. Definitely brings back memories :’)

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay for Velveteen Rabbit love! What you say about depth is very true–I’ve reread that book literally dozens of times, and I am still moved by it, every time. :)

      Someone else mentioned Edward Tulane above, I definitely have to check that out soon. Thanks for stopping by, Sophie!

  13. Sarah

    Well you’ve got me in the mood to re-read the Little House series now. It’s been such a long time and you’re right, perfect holiday read!

    • Wendy Darling

      Doooo it–I just reread the first two books with a friend recently! Such a great series to read when the wind is howling but you’re safely tucked up in bed in your own home. :)

  14. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I’ve never heard of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but it sounds funny! I used to read The Velveteen Rabbit to my son over and oooover. And over. lol. Then I bought The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and that quickly took it’s place.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yeah, those kids were baaad. Probably a bit tame by today’s standards, but in that Christmas Story shenanigans kind of way, it’s a really fun read. :) I’ll have to check out the book you mentioned, Christy! I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, though it’s made the rounds recently.

  15. Liviania

    I agree totally on the Little House series and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I can’t wait to start reading Little House to my niece!

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay, another Christmas Pageant lover! I’m always surprised when I find people haven’t heard of it. And ah, Laura Ingalls. I love her so much, I’m glad to hear you feel the same way. :)

  16. Keertana

    Gosh, it’s been YEARS since I read The Velveten Rabbit! I loved that story, so you’ve reminded me to pick it up again!(: I also loveeeeee the Little House Series. I grew up reading them and they changed me so much as I grew. Phenomenal choices, Wendy, and happy holidays! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      I should have known you were a kindred spirit, Keertana. Those stories are so lovely, aren’t they? Every time I read them, it’s like experiencing all the love and tenderness all over again. Happy holidays to you! And WATCH THAT MOVIE WE TALKED ABOUT.

    • Wendy Darling

      It endures with very good reason. :) And yay, I’m glad you got your DARKEST MINDS prize! Thanks for letting me know on Twitter.

  17. Jasprit

    Awww thank you for the gorgeous recommendations Wendy! I have to agree, children’s books are the best at this time. I haven’t read any of the books you’ve suggested, so definitely look forward to giving one a try! :)

  18. Julie@My5monkeys

    Oh I love books that magicial and remind me of my childhood. I did read Velveteen Rabbit and Little House …but I should do more rereads in the holiday season.

    Merry Christmas

    • Wendy Darling

      Merry Christmas, Julie! :) I love this time of year, and after the holidays is the perfect time to settle down to revisit with books you love.

  19. Bonnie R

    These are such fun books! I love your little house Christmas stockings, those are too cute! And The Velveteen Rabbit…definitely one of my favorite childrens books ever. :)

  20. Christina

    Oh, Wendy, I love that you revisit your childhood loves during the holidays. Actually, I’ve only read the first two books. I would love to revisit The Velveteen Rabbit.

    Also, funny story, I’m pretty sure that The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was the first and last audiobook I listened to until grad school. This would have been when I was in middle school, back when books were on tape. I had my walkman and walked around. I didn’t like it at all, but that may have been due to the format. Perhaps I’ll revisit that one someday as well.

    You’ve told me before about both of the latter books, and, when you guys do that readalong of Little House, I’ll hop on if I can. They’re short at least!

    Confession: the Little House television show was my secret obsession when I was in middle school/early high school. I would race home after school and curl up to watch while eating a bag of buttery popcorn. No wonder I was a chubby teen.

    • Wendy Darling

      I try to reread them as much as possible, Christina! They make me really happy. :)

      I really wish more people would try out the All of a Kind Family series–it’s so great for readers who love middle grade and historical fiction. They’re sweet, old-fashioned stories that would appeal to Eleanor Estes, L.M. Montgomery, or Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, I think.

      And d’oh! Heidi and I already read the first two Little House books together. I’m so sorry, I totally forgot you said you might join in. I still want to reread the next few, though–any chance you’d be reading those soon? BAD WENDY.