Old Sadie and the Christmas Bear By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Amos the bear wakes up from his hibernation smelling something he doesn't recognize. He goes off into the nearby to discover what it might be. There he finds Sadie, an old woman who doesn't see very well anymore. As he tumbles into Sadie's home she welcomes him over to the hearth to get warm. She shares food with him and he in turn warms up her chair. She isn't aware that a bear has been to visit but they offer each other some company in this quiet Christmas tale. A real gem, worth searching for at your public library or buying a used copy since this 1984 book is hard to come by.
Teaching in a public school means making sure to purchase, read and recommend books for both Hanukkah and Christmas in the month of December. I can't imagine two stories that go better together than these two. A storytime match made in Heaven.
Lesson Seed: Hold up the books before reading and get predictions. When finished spend some time comparing how the two books were similar. The real thinkers will be able to dig deep and figure out ways in which they were different as well.
The Chanukkah Guest By Eric A. Kimmel
Bubba Brayna is 97 years old and doesn't hear or see as well as she used to. This foreshadowing by the author explains why she allows a bear to enter her small cottage at the edge of the forest, plays dreidel and then feeds him all her potato latkes. Imagine her surprise a short time later when all her family, friends and the Rabbi arrive and the latkes have been polished off! Not until her grandchildren discover bear tracks in the kitchen does she realize her mistake. This is a perfect Hanukkah book to share with your family or class.