A Day for Skating by Sarah Sullivan

A Day for Skating

Written in simple rhyming couplets with no more than two lines to a page, Sarah Sullivan’s A Day for Skating is perfect to share with children who are just learning to read. Every couplet is combined with a full-page illustration by Madeline Valentine whose soft, muted style adds to the poetic words penned by Sullivan. Give it a read before or after a trip to Oglebay Park’s indoor rink!

Recommended reading level: 4-7 years old

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Snow by Cynthia Rylant

Snow

“And the snow, while it is here, reminds of this: that nothing lasts forever except memories.”

No review of West Virginia children’s books would be complete without a book or two by Cynthia Rylant, and her offerings for Christmastime do not disappoint. The most recent winter-themed book from Rylant is a sweet and lyrical look at snow, in which Rylant enumerates varieties of snowfall and the feeling each evokes. Full-page illustrations by Lauren Stringer will help young readers become truly immersed in the story and will leave older readers with a renewed appreciation of snow’s true beauty.

Recommended reading level: 4-7 years old

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Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the Country

A perfect pick for bedtime, Rylant’s Christmas in the Country is a charming retelling of holidays spent in the mountains. The simple joys of the season range from decorating a fresh-cut tree with family, to attending church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Illustrator Diane Goode’s style perfectly complements Rylant’s story and adds to the feeling of a warm and cozy Christmas. For more of Rylant and Goode, check out When I Was Young in the Mountains, Rylant’s debut picture book.

Recommended reading level: 4-8 years old

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Santa Is Coming to West Virginia by Steve Smallman

Santa is Coming to WV

Come with Santa and his reindeer as they take flight over the Mountain State in Santa is Coming to West Virginia! A blizzard nearly sends Santa off-track, but the church bells of the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Charleston guide him and his team to safety. Below the storm, Santa delivers presents from Charleston to Clarksburg, Weirton to Wheeling, and everywhere in-between. Keep your eyes peeled for familiar landmarks from the State Capitol to the Capitol Music Hall.

Recommended reading level: 4-8 years old

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Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant

Silver Packages

Based on the true story of the “Santa Train” that has rolled through Appalachia since 1943, Silver Packages is a fictionalized account of young Frankie, one of the many recipients of the train’s “silver packages.” Every year Frankie hopes and prays that his silver package will contain a doctor’s kit, but it never comes. Instead, he is given toys, games, socks, and mittens. The book flashes forward and shows Frankie as an adult, reflecting on the Santa Train and realizing that although he did not get his wished-for gift, he was given much-needed clothing items and games he enjoyed all year long. Frankie returns home to watch a new generation of children enjoy the Santa Train and bandages up a skinned knee with supplies from his doctor’s kit.

Recommended reading level: 5-8 years old

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Mountain Christmas by Marc Harshman

Mountain Christmas

An homage to the holiday season in West Virginia, Mountain Christmas follows Santa as he travels across the state. The book includes familiar landmarks like the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, the State Capitol, and the Green Bank Observatory. The book also highlights the wildlife and industry of West Virginia as both human and animal observers hear the tell-tale sound of sleigh bells. Illustrated by Cecy Rose, a Kentucky native who has spent over 40 years in West Virginia, Mountain Christmas highlights the state’s natural beauty. The typeset is OpenDyslexic, a font created specifically to increase readability for those with dyslexia.

Recommended reading level: 5-8 years old

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Snow Company by Marc Harshman

Snow Company

Written by West Virginia’s own poet laureate, Snow Company draws upon Harshman’s youth in rural Indiana. The story centers around young Teddy and his family as their region is hit with one of the biggest snowstorms in twenty years. Neighbors caught in snowdrifts are welcomed into Teddy’s home and spend the evening visiting and swapping stories. Like A Little Excitement, Harshman weaves a tale of community and hospitality that truly highlights the benefits of rural life.

Recommended reading level: 7-9

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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

A beautiful tale of community and sacrifice, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is based upon a custom observed in an Appalachian town. Every year a different family is called upon to provide a Christmas tree for the community and the families give what they can. For Ruthie’s family, they have chosen a lovely balsam that is to be chopped down by Ruthie’s father before Christmas. Ruthie’s father is called to serve in the Great War, however, and it is up to Ruthie and her mother to keep their homestead thriving—and chop down the community’s Christmas tree. Beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney, this story is a heartwarming one that will remind readers that love and community are at the heart of the Christmas season.

Recommended reading level: 8-10 years old

• Raised in Wellsburg, West Virginia, Anna Cipoletti is a proud alumna of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, West Liberty University and Kent State University. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from West Liberty in 2014 and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Kent State in 2017. Anna has made a career out of a lifelong love of books and works full-time at Bethany College as a librarian and parttime as a bookseller and book reviewer. She resides in Beech Bottom with her sister and two Siamese cats. A nature enthusiast, Anna often spends her free time visiting one of West Virginia’s many beautiful parks or kayaking along Buffalo Creek.

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