Books You MUST Read in December for Deeper Meaning

Updated: Jul 16



December can be a very challenging month to teach in!

Are you ready to keep your students' literacy learning journey moving during the month of December?

Things can get a little crazy during this time of the school year. Everyone is so excited about the upcoming holiday and activities can overtake instructional time if you're not careful.

Here are some books that will keep you going and not just reading about Santa and the Grinch. :)

Check out these holiday books that you MUST READ this December and incorporate into your authentic literacy instruction before the upcoming break.

Holiday books can be so much more than Santa Claus and elves and presents...

These books have a deeper message that goes beyond the holidays, pretty packages and festive decorations.

When you dive into books that are set during the month of December, there is always a common thread BEYOND the setting of Christmas, cold weather and holiday festivities. There is always a deeper message! Challenge your readers to find them!

Share one, some or all of these books with your students and see what messages you all can find within the text. (If you only choose one book to read, please make it Night Tree by Eve Bunting. I love its message!) Keep scrolling after browsing the books to see teaching points to use with any or all of these books with your students.


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Night Tree by Eve Bunting

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco

Each of the books above has a deeper message. You could spend this holiday season diving into how readers discover the theme of a story.


Key Teaching Points for Theme

Readers need to know that the theme IS a universal idea. Readers need to know that the theme IS a lesson about life and/or people.


Readers need to know that the theme is NOT the main idea stated in the text. Readers must know that the theme is NOT specific to just one text.


Readers need time to discuss big ideas in a text to help them make connections between those ideas to discover similarities that lead to the theme.


Readers need prompts for thinking about and engaging in conversations about the theme, such as...

  • What does the author want the reader to learn?

  • What do you think really mattered to the author?

  • What is the deeper meaning?


Readers need guidance and steps to take that allows them to uncover themes in a story they are reading. When readers are provided with this guidance, the strategy will become more automatic as they practice using the skills within their independent reading.

Readers need to observe a proficient reader extracting the theme from a text or texts that are familiar to all the readers in the classroom. The teacher could think aloud and model discovering theme from a recent read-aloud or a familiar fairy tale or folk tale.



Until next time...


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