Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 131: The Polar Express

Chris Van Allsburg's classic, The Polar Express, is always at the top of my Christmas reading list.  I actually just read it with my son for the first time this year, but I remember reading it with my brothers each year when they were younger.  It is a beautiful story that captures the magic and wonder of Christmas; one that is bound to bring you back to your own childhood every time you read it.  I still remember lying in bed at my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve, knowing that I should fall asleep, but determined to hear Santa's sleigh land on the roof above me.  One year, I was convinced I heard the pitter patter of hooves up there.  I still feel that same sense of wonder each Christmas Eve, even though now I have little ones of my own who can't fall asleep in that same room of my grandmother's farm house.  Van Allsburg's classic tells the story of a young boy who is magically transported to the North Pole one Christmas Eve aboard the Polar Express.  If you're at all familiar with Van Allsburg's work, you know that his illustrations are gorgeous.  In the Polar Express, I love the contrast between the cold, dark images of the winter night and the warmth within the train.  But I also love the timelessness of the story itself.  Upon arriving at the North Pole, our young narrator is chosen by Santa to be the lucky recipient of the first gift of Christmas.  His request?  A silver bell from Santa's sleigh.  Once back on the train, the other children are eager to see the bell, but our poor narrator realizes he has lost it.  All that lies in his robe pocket is a hole.  Christmas morning, however, he opens a tiny box to find the bell, along with a note from "Mr. C" himself.  Overwhelmed with joy, he shakes the bell, which makes the most beautiful sound he and his sister have ever heard.  "Oh, that's too bad," said his mother.  "Yes," said his father, "it's broken."  When he'd shaken the bell, his parents had not heard a sound.   I'll admit that I'm overly sentimental, but the last page sometimes brings a tear to my eye:  "At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them.  Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound.  Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."  If I were with the narrator, I know I would hear the bell.  I believe.  But I know that someday, my children will question whether Santa is real.  I hope they always believe in the magic and wonder of the season as I do, and that they, too, would hear the bell ringing.  This beautiful book makes a wonderful Christmas gift for children of all ages, and I know it is one we will read and enjoy in my family for years to come.  May your holiday be filled with all the wonder, magic, and love of the season.  


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