Bookanista Recommendation: THE ELF ON A SHELF

I’m changing it up a little with today’s Bookanista Recommendation:

From Goodreads: How does Santa really know who is naughty or nice? The answer is finally revealed in… The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. The Elf on the Shelf is a book and activity the entire family will enjoy. Based on the tradition Carol Aebersold began with her family in the 1970s, this cleverly rhymed children’s book explains that Santa knows who is naughty or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. During the holiday season, the elf watches children by day and reports to Santa each night. When children awake, the elf has returned from the North Pole and can be found hiding in a different location. 

Though my daughter and I read dozens of picture books each month, it’s not often that I take the time to formally recommend the exceptional ones. Still, as a former educator and current mama, I’m a big fan of books that teach a concept or lesson in a clever, nearly invisible manner, and The Elf on a Shelf does just that. While it’s admittedly a little commercial, I’m willing to overlook that because the story and tradition are so much fun. Good behavior, thoughtful deeds, a generous spirit… Fantastic messages to instill this time of year.

The actual The Elf on a Shelf book is adorable. It rhymes, a format that, in my opinion, is always more appealing for read-alouds, and the illustrations are whimsical and colorful. The book explains all of the “rules” of the tradition in a way that’s clear to little ones, and it’s a quick read (yay for quick reads! If you’re a parent, you’ll understand :)). The Elf on a Shelf easily held my daughter’s attention even before I officially introduced the elf.

Ahh, the elf. I bought the optional skirt to make ours a girl (because minus my husband, we’re a house chock full of females), and my daughter decided to name her Alice. Alice is all registered with the North Pole, and every night she flies there to report to Santa on whether my girlie has been naughty or nice (she’s *almost* always nice ♥). When Alice returns each morning, she’s in a new spot, sometimes hidden and sometimes just doing fun or funny things. FYI, I’ve heard of some families who allow their elves to make “mischief” during the night, but that sort of undermines the whole naughty-or-nice aspect of the tradition, so Alice is pretty well-behaved. Anywho, here are a few of the ways my daughter has found her thus far:

Dropping in from the North Pole…

Taking tea with the Beast

Alice is a big reader…

Delivering a special note from Santa Claus…

This one might have been pushing the limits of taste, but my daughter cracked up when she saw Alice’s antics…

Surprise! New Christmas jammies from Alice!

Gosh… I wonder who’s having more fun with this tradition: My girlie or me? 🙂

The Elf on a Shelf — book AND tradition! — get a big RECOMMEND from me.

Does your family have an elf? Tell me about your  Christmas traditions in the comments!

Check out what other Bookanistas are up to today:

Elana Johnson roars for FURY
Shannon Whitney Messenger  marvels at A MILLION SUNS with a preorder giveaway!
Carolina Valdez Miller is all about HERE with giveaway!
Gretchen McNeil twirls for AUDITION
Stasia Ward Kehoe is wild for DON’T BREATHE A WORD
Katy Upperman gets in the spirit with ELF ON A SHELF
Nikki Katz dishes on WHY WE BROKE UP


16 thoughts on “Bookanista Recommendation: THE ELF ON A SHELF

  1. Sophia Richardson says:

    Such a cute tradition! I can see why you’d both love it. My holiday traditions have gradually disappeared as I’ve gotten older, but in my romantic heart of hearts, I’d love to start a whole bunch if/when I have a family of my own. Probably not surprising since I also like the idea of date and game nights.

    • katyupperman says:

      Yeah, I had a strange period in my early twenties where I wasn’t really carrying on the traditions I grew up with, but I didn’t have a kiddo, so I didn’t care much about beginning my own traditions yet either. I think the holidays are a whole lot more fun when you have a child (or children, I guess :)) to celebrate with. Either way, I hope your holidays are fantastic, Sophia!

  2. Alison Miller says:

    I have been so tempted to buy this and because my daughter is 12 and on the cusp with Santa, I haven’t – but ugh – this makes me want to run out and buy it RIGHT NOW. My seven year old would enjoy it. Okay, I would enjoy it. 🙂

    Great review, Katy!

    • katyupperman says:

      I bet your seven year old would enjoy it, and you could even let your twelve year old in on the secret and let her help you with the hiding/posing. I’m pretty sure I’m having just as much fun with our elf as my daughter is!

  3. Jennifer Pickrell says:

    Thank you for explaining what this book is – I’ve heard several of my parent friends talking about it and kept meaning to look it up, but never got around to it. I LOVE the Tea with Beast pic!

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. Glad I could enlighten you. 🙂 I didn’t know what the ELF was until this year either, but it’s definitely a fun tradition I’ll carry on as long as my daughter buys into it!

  4. Tracey Neithercott says:

    I love the idea of hiding the elf all over. One year for Christmas my mom’s aunt got her this hideous leprechaun Santa. (Seriously creepy.) As a joke, the rest of the year we hid it everywhere–in the back seat of someone’s car, in the shower, under the covers. They even sent it to me in a care package, but I hid it in their suitcase when they visited next. Your Elf on a Shelf tradition reminds me of the leprechaun Santa joke we play. Only yours is more to amuse while ours is more about the creep factor. 🙂

    Lucky little girl for having such a fun mom!

    • katyupperman says:

      Uh, yeah, the leprechaun Santa definitely sounds creepy, but lots of fun too! Whatever tradition works for bringing out the holiday cheer within your family, I say GO WITH IT. 🙂

  5. Carolina Valdez Miller says:

    Oh my word, that is just so freaking cute. I always thought it was a little creepy, every time I saw it in the store, but you make it seem adorable. I love that it’s a sweet elf. Not like a stalker elf. Ha! I didn’t realize a book came with it either. Shows you what I know.

    I love seeing picture book recommendations. We don’t give enough attention to them. I’m going to have to pick this up. I can just see my Little Bean scouting out the elf’s location every morning.

    • katyupperman says:

      I bet she’d love it! I actually found the whole ELF idea a little creepy last year, but the more I looked into it and heard about it this year, the more I liked it. We’re definitely having lots of fun with Alice, and I think we’ll carry on with this tradition as long as my daughter believes. Her face positively lights up every morning when she finds Alice.

      Let me know what your daughter thinks if you decide to “adopt” an elf, Carol!

  6. Jessica Love says:

    I have a couple of friends doing this with their little ones this year, and they have been posting their elves on fb. They have been all over the place! It’s pretty cute even for me to see where the elves end up.

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