Saint Nicholas Day is fast approaching, and I wanted to highlight some of my very favorite Saint Nicholas books!
First of all, here is a series of stories you can tell starting on December 1st written by Christine Natale, esteemed Waldorf teacher and available for free at the St. Nicholas Center. Here is Day One: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/waldorf-1/. You can enjoy more of Christine’s seasonal tales in her fairy tale collection here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0557591317/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=stnicholcente-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=0557591317
And, as a special treat, Christine left a comment below with a special offer. She writes:
“As a special gift, I would like to share with your readers a Winter story that I wrote last year. It is not in the collection mentioned above, but will be in any future editions. Here is a link to the story in PDF format to download. The illustration is by Josephine Wall and I do not have permission to use it, but I think it is ok to share among friends.”
She also makes great points below about the more common legends of Saint Nicholas and the Waldorf curriculum. See the comment box below!
Here are a few other tales and some comments:
This is one of the best St. Nicholas books for children Early Years through about first or second grade, and then just as an enjoyable read-aloud for the whole family:
This sweet little book is the story of the pine marten, the fiercest little animal in the forest and how we becomes the greatest helper of St. Nicholas, delivering gold coins to all the stockings hung by the fire. You can get this story for free at the St. Nicholas Center: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/st-nicholas-story/
Here is a favorite; this is a story of a baker in Albany, NY and how he gives his customers what they pay for, “no more and no less” and how he learns to be more generous through an old woman who might just be St. Nicholas and thereby invents the “baker’s dozen.”. This is a great family read-aloud book, especially if you have children that are around the nine year change want a main protagonist to identify with. I actually would not pick this book if I only had Early Years children in the house, though just for that reason – the identification with a main character is generally something we come into a little bit later after being one with archetypal imagery.
Good for those a bit older , perhaps past the nine year change– this is a book about the life of the real Saint Nicholas and all the legends surrounding him. Therefore, it has references to the fact that Saint Nicholas was tortured at times due to his faith, it has a reference to the legend of the three children cut up during a time of famine and essentially pickled and how Saint Nicholas brought them back to life, and how Sinter Klaas changed into “Santa Claus”. The book is lovely, the illustrations are magnificent, and I think your older children will really enjoy it.
For my Christian readers, I recommend this book:
It mainly focuses on the story of Saint Nicholas and the legend of the three girls – in this version, the three girls need money for a dowry in order to get married. This is a wonderful book, and ties into themes of living in Christ, generosity of spirit and helping others.
I really love this series of books by Ethel Pochocki and have many of her books, but I have to be honest and say that the St. Nicholas tale in this book bothered me: (and I like the other tales a lot, so I would still have this on my bookshelf but go to other sources for Saint Nicholas tales!!)
My being bothered really starts with the “modernisms” in the story: “….he gave presents to children that weren’t really needed but which made their eyes crinkle with joy….silk scarves and calico kittens and Tootsie Rolls.” “He would ride through town in the night, his cloak flying in the wind, a silk mask over his eyes” (uh, like a superhero? St. Nicholas, to me, certainly was wonderful, but not a superhero like Batman or Spiderman. He was a holy man of God!). So I think the very modern references woven into this story brings us right into a modern consciousness when we read this book, and then when we get to the latter part of the story that really focuses on the story of Saint Nicholas saving the three children who were cut up and placed in brine during the famine, it just seems jarring and difficult to deal with. This is partly because of the modern references in the beginning, but also because this part of the tale is told in such a personal way to make us identify with the man who commits this atrocity. It was difficult for me, and could be difficult for some children. The way this is handled in the Saint Nicholas book by Demi seems less startling and more in keeping with an other-worldly person in an other-worldly time.
I mentioned Christine Natale’s wonderful tales above, but please don’t forget the other wonderful stories at the St. Nicholas Center. Here is one from the Winter Wynstones book: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/a-st-nicholas-story/
Annette did a great St. Nicholas Day round up here: http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/advent/st-nicholas-day-round-up/ …Do go check it out! I love her Advent e-book as well: http://www.naturalfamily.50megs.com/custom2_1.html. And here is Annette’s post regarding the first week of Advent: http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/advent/a-little-advent-planning-week-one/. She has some great ideas for Saint Frances Xavier!!
I notice that Little Acorn Learning has an Advent/St. Nicholas e-book out as well: http://littleacornlearning.com/adventstnickfestivalbook.html I have not seen it yet, but if any of you are using it, please comment below.
Please have fun today preparing for Saint Nicholas Day! We are planning on making these and delivering them to neighbors tomorrow: http://pinchofyum.com/gingerbread-loaves-with-lemon-glaze. Please share your favorite books, tales, and preparations for Saint Nicholas Day in the comment box!