Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Give a Little Thought to A to Z this Holiday Season

Wow. It's the holiday season! It seems as if 2015 just started and now here we are near the end of the year; amazing isn't it? With the holidays in full swing now is the perfect time to spend a moment thinking about the A to Z Challenge in 2016!

It's true, it's true! To be sure you'll be bustling about having lots of fun and shopping and whatnot but you'll probably have a spare moment here or there that is perfect for thinking.  Say you're shopping and you're standing in a very long line. Look around you for inspiration for the blogging challenge.

For example, while standing in line, what if you see an outrageous hat? Why not blog the A to Z of crazy hats? How about the A to Z of your grandma's clothes? Can you name the A to Z of Professor Snape sayings? Or what if you blogged the A to Z of movies you've seen in your lifetime? You could always go back and look at your old A to Z Challenge posts and see what posts worked and revamp those into something new. What about the A to Z of bad challenges? Bad blog posts? Bad dogs?

But seriously, the holidays provide you with plenty more time to think about the A to Z than you realize. When I'm standing in line or looking at a row of books I try to get inspired by the things that I'm looking at. Sometimes my ideas are genius and sometimes they're not. But you know what? Waiting til the last minute stinks. I've learned to use snippets of downtime each day to brainstorm: Sitting at a stop light? Thinking. Standing in line to buy presents? Pondering. 

You won't know if your idea is good or not until you think it through. So instead of playing Candy Crush with friends on your phone, consider that idea that is floating near the surface of your brain. The A to Z of lollipops? Possibly. How many flavors can you name? 10? 3? 60?  You won't know until you think it all the way through.  Isn't it better to discover NOW that your idea is no good rather than on April 5th when you've run out of flavors? 

Just like some gifts are better left on the shelf, some ideas are better left in your brain.

Make 2016 the best A to Z Challenge ever and start thinking about possible topics now! So tell me, what are some bad topics you've already tossed out for next year's challenge? Here's one of mine: The A to Z of dog books. I mean, seriously, how many could there be? 

Too many to choose from.

So, be prepared future A to Zers!

The A to Z Challenge is coming! 

Give a little thought to A to Z this holiday season. You'll be glad you did.

Many thanks to Pinterest and Buzzfeed for all the funny pics.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas stories to discover

Had enough of The Gift of the Magi for a lifetime, and always found The Fir Tree and The Little Match Girl sort of depressing? (Our teacher used to read them to us every Christmas in class, and I don't think I'll ever recover from it)
Here is a list of books you can explore for funny, heartwarming, less well-known, and lovable Christmas tales - most of them traditional.

Midwinter Folk Tales
Written by legendary storyteller Taffy Thomas, published in 2015. A collection full of winter tales from Taffy's own repertoire - free to tell for anyone who takes a fancy to them. He does not only include the best of his stories for the season; he also tells little anecdotes about how each story came into his possession, and what hidden importance they might have. It is an entertaining, lovely collection, written in Taffy's original voice and sense of humor.

Joy to the World: Christmas stories from around the globe
Okay, so not a recent edition, but one of my newly discovered favorites. Beautifully illustrated book, with well selected stories. I am including it with an extra recommendation because it features one of my favorite Christmas legends, the story of the Little Camel from Syria. In Syria, children who celebrate Christmas believe that their gifts are brought by the little camel that traveled with the Three Wise Men. It's one of the cutest stories ever.

Tell Me a Story for Christmas: Traveller Tales
A seasonal collection by another legendary storyteller, Scottish Traveller Duncan Williamson. Once again, not a recent edition, but many copies are still available from online stores and libraries. I highly recommend reading other books from Duncan Williamson as well; he is a huge name in the storytelling world, and did incredible work to preserve the oral traditions he grew up with.

The Other Wise Man 
Okay, so this is a more well known one, but also one of my favorites, so I will include it, in case it's new for some people. Written by Henry van Dyke in 1895, it is an original Christmas tale about Artaban, the fourth Wise Man that somehow got left behind. I love telling this story, and audiences respond to it really well. Also, there is a famous sapphire named after it. In case you like shiny things like I do.

May your days be merry, and full of books!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

'Tis The Season

'Tis the Season to Hit the Road. . .

and buy those presents!

Photo Credit

My family knows what they’re going to receive from me each Christmas. The only surprise for them is what book is hidden inside the glittery wrapping. And each season I search for both the classics and something new. I thought that since some of you might be on the hunt for book gifts I’d share what I’m considering putting under the tree. Family: DO NOT PEEK!

The Classics for young readers’ libraries

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Accord Publishing
The Elf on the Shelf by Carol Aebersold
Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
The Nutcracker by Alison Jay
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Random House

Christmas Activity Books for the really young ones

My Very Merry Christmas Coloring and Activity Book 
Christmas Carol Activity Book, Book 2
A Very Krabby Christmas
The Berenstein Bears' Christmas Coloring and Activity Book
Christmas Is Coming
The 12 Days of Christmas: The Story behind a Favorite Christmas Song
Christmas Jigsaw Book

Some not so Christmasy ones, but great gifts for mature readers in the family

The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Book Thief
Women of the Silk and The Language of Threads (Series)
Bel Canto
The Suspect
Boy Toy
Marcelo in the Real World
The Kite Runner

Photo Credit

Merry Christmas!