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Holidays, Holidays and More

By Maureen Penko

"What a wonderful time of the year or is it "The most wonderful time of the year?" Christmas, Chanukah, Dewali, Kwanza, are some of the many names of the holidays that families celebrate in Manitoba. The holidays, no matter how you celebrate are upon us. I wanted to share with you promoting speech and language skills regardless of your child's age can be shared through many family traditions that you can continue or perhaps those you create.

This is also the time of the year that we know may be difficult for families for a variety of reasons. You can decide to share with your child the simple pleasures of giving or traditions of celebration that takes the focus away from presents.

The idea of giving was shared with me by a teenager who said my family loves Christmas and what I love is the family getting together and the idea of giving. Our children share in the excitement that we create. With children's activities such as making a popcorn garland, flipping pancakes, painting twigs and pinecones, filling up the bird feeders or going sledding are experiences that we can share and describe.

All these activities involve time and the joy of teaching your children the importance of simple pleasures that some children may not have available. The importance of giving and the reasons for it can be shared in a conversation. In preparing for this article I decided to go through a collection of children's books. Leah Marie Dorion takes readers back to the MÈtis tradition of making mittens for loved ones.†MÈtis Christmas Mittens†is a touching ode to MÈtis family life is accompanied by Leah's distinctive and evocative art. This idea of stories took me to meet Sabrina at McNally Robinson. In their children's section Sabrina unveiled some of the many treasures in the store. Here are some highlights:

Jan Brett' s The Nutcracker, a classic tale.

The book can become a family treasure and one that can be read to your children year after year. Don't forget that The Royal Winnipeg Ballet traditionally has a performance and sells the much sought out ballet slippers as ornaments and the Nutcrackers.

The Golden Dreidle is a read out loud story that has pictures supporting the text by Ellen Kushner and illustrated by Kevin Keele. Naomi Howland writes Latkes Latkes Good to Eat:

Latkes Latkes Good to Eat
Latkes Latkes good to eat
Cook me up a Chanuka Treat

This book has rhyme, repetition, colourful pictures and best of all one can cook up latkes just like Bubbe's.

We can also talk about the true value of the Christmas holidays with our children. Messages of this nature are unveiled in the book and movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the famous animated show A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schultz .

Embracing cultural experiences allows you to introduce your child to other customs that are also celebrated in their school. Comprehension and vocabulary development come into play here. In the neighbourhood you live in you may be able to explain to your child why some homes have certain decorations and what they mean.

Your child might really enjoy being read the story The Christmas Mitzvah inspired by a true story by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Michele Laurentia Agatha. This book shows Christmas and Hanukah woven together which may be the case in blended families. The message shared in the book is that everyone needs a day to celebrate their traditions whatever it may be.

A new book for me is The Wishing Tree by Meika Hashimoto illustrated by Xindi Yan. Here the author talks about how to bring Christmas to people and at the end there is a envelope of cards on which your child can practice writing and can write a wish and hang it on the tree.

What can children do in an interactive way to prepare for the holidays?ÖA wonderful large hard Cover Advent Calendar Book with 24 days of books that either have a story, song or activity book to open by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Sheffler.

This book series is colourful, inviting, funny, entertaining, has rhyming and allows for imagination.

Perhaps your child is on the cusp of wondering about who Santa Claus really is

The Real Santa by New York Times Best-selling author Nancy Redd and illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, allows us to join our child in asking many questions.

Questions such as "Does he wear a red or golden hat?"

Is his beard gray or Black?

Are the toys in the satchel or does he carry a sack?

My final selection was The Toys Christmas. Here the author has made the toys become the sharer of information to Santa Claire Clement and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout allows us to use the third person in the dialogue.

The holidays can be hectic and stressful for both parents and children.
You can reduce the stress of a hectic pace and expectations, by reading, listening to music and providing calmness each day. This is important for the child whose worries are expressed in their speech. Singing The twelve days of Christmas by Emma Randall is delightfully written with each number highlighted, the illustrations are so beautiful and one can read or sing the words.

There is so much to recap in a year, so have an evening of baking, singing, writing cards and notes, playing a board game, craft creation, or looking through a photo album and enjoying the moment itself.

In closing I wish to thank Sabrina for her time May I suggest that you visit your local bookstore and support them. There is so much vocabulary and language in story books. Take the time to create your own storybook with your child filled with photographs of your traditions.

I wish you a peaceful and safe time shared with your loved ones.

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