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How am I to sing your praise?

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“Picture-Books in Winter”

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Summer fading, winter comes
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds,
trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are,
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks,
In the picture story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?


I was unfamiliar with the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson until I saw the title A Child’s Garden of Verses on John Senior’s nursery booklist. Since then I have become extremely fond of Stevenson’s poetry and will always recommend A Child’s Garden of Verses if asked what poetry book to first invest in for a child’s library (apart from an excellent Mother Goose collection). Stevenson’s poems delightfully and wisely capture the joy, curiosity, and imagination of children. A Child’s Garden of Verses is also the first book I reach for when looking for poems for my young children to memorize.

The full text of A Child’s Garden of Verses is available at Gutenberg.org. If you are looking for a printed edition, I recommend the version illustrated by Tasha Tudor. Her illustrative style is a perfect match for Stevenson’s poetry.

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A Poem for Advent

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“The House of Christmas”

by G.K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honor and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Found in The Home Book of Verse – Volume 1 by Burton Egbert Stevenson, on Gutenberg.org

 

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Christmas Booklist

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Every year after Christmastide we put our Christmas-themed books away so that when Advent begins it is the first time my children have seen them all year. I check out the ones we don’t own from the library and we place them in a basket with a festive bow. I love how these stories work their magic all Advent long as we prepare our hearts for Christmas morning. Here are our favorites. 

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Christmas Picture Books

Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov

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The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard

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Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck

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The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

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The Christmas Story Golden Books

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The Dolls’ Christmas by Tasha Tudor

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The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger

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The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

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The Nativity by Ruth Sanderson

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Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

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The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola

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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

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Books About Christmas Hymns

Good King Wenceslas by John Mason Neale, illustrated by Christopher Manson

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The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

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Stephen’s Feast by Jean Richardson

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The Twelve Days of Christmas by Gennady Spirin

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Christmas Poetry

 A Wreath of Christmas Legends by Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

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~ ADDITIONS! ~

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The Christmas Story illustrated by Gennady Spirin

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The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney


What are your family’s favorite Christmas books? Please share in the comments below.

You may also like . . . the Winter & Snow Booklist.

 

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Welcome! Introducing Beloved Bookshelf

Hello! My name is Lauren Williams. Welcome to Beloved Bookshelf.

My deep love of literature began at Hillsdale College, where I met professors and students who treated books not as something to be used or delighted in merely, but as the gift and treasure they are to our human flourishing. I ended up majoring in English, soaking up every class I could on the literary classics.

When I became a mother, I couldn’t wait to share my love of literature with my children. I had difficulty at first finding quality children’s books (choosing at random from the library bookshelf was unsuccessful), but then a friend directed me to John Senior’s booklist.

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This list was exactly what I had been looking for. Seeing the delight in my children’s eyes as we read Winnie-the-Pooh and the Beatrix Potter tales, hearing the questions they began asking, and observing how their imaginations grew was incredibly motivating. I began spending hours searching for other resources and combing booklists, determined to find the best children’s literature I could. Other parents expressed their interest in the titles I was finding and the seed for this blog was planted.

Over the past two years, I have checked out and reviewed hundreds of books with the hope that I could bring you these booklists. They are far from finished, but I hope they can begin to bridge the gap for other parents and educators searching for quality literature.

Here are my criteria for what makes a children’s book a real treasure:

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What I desire most for this blog is that these books will make their way into your library bag or on your bookshelves and that you enjoy them as much as we do! I would also be grateful if you shared your family’s favorite titles so we can help each other find the best children’s literature has to offer our families.

Thank you so much for visiting!

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About the name: I chose “Beloved Bookshelf” as a nod to an old habit I have of lining up my most beloved books on a shelf. Although my family does not own all of these titles, they would be lovingly lined up on a shelf (or shelves😉).