Bookanista Rec: THE ELF ON THE SHELF

In celebration of the holidays, I thought I’d repost a Bookanista Recommendation from last year, one for the children’s book The Elf on the Shelf. This is our second year with our elf, Alice, and while my mom jokes that I have more fun with her than my daughter does, she’s become a fantastic family tradition. Here’s why:

From GoodreadsHow 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 teacher 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! :) ). The Elf on a Shelf easily held my daughter’s attention even before I officially introdued 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 from the North Pole (obviously), 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. I’ve heard some families 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 so far this year:

A substitute tree topper (with shades!).

With a little gift: Chocolate coins!

Out on a limb in the Christmas village.

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

Check out what a few of my Bookanista friends are up to today:

Jessica Love delights in THE DISENCHANTMENTS
Stasia Ward Kehoe fawns over two favorite book blogs

Does your family have an Elf on the Shelf? What are some of your Christmas traditions?


14 thoughts on “Bookanista Rec: THE ELF ON THE SHELF

  1. Meredith says:

    We’re doing the Elf for the first time this year, but I’m waiting until Dec. 1 to start (because Thanksgiving was way too early this year!) I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to have more fun with it than my daughter will too, but oh well!

  2. Jaime Morrow says:

    This is such a fun idea. 🙂 I hadn’t heard of ELF ON A SHELF until last year when someone blogged about it. It might have even been you. What a great way to encourage kids to choose ‘nice’ over ‘naughty’. 😀

  3. Crystal says:

    I had no clue what that elf was for! That’s a super-cute idea.

    I just wish they made the elf less creepy looking. I was telling my husband last night that I felt like the Elf on a Shelf looked like it would come alive in the middle of the night–now that I know that’s the whole point, I’m even more creeped out, lol.

    • katyupperman says:

      They do wear a creepy little smile on their faces! But yes, the whole point is to get kiddos to believe that the Elf is magical and all knowing. It’s a fun tradition!

  4. Temre Beltz says:

    Aw, I love the Elf on the Shelf! This is our second year too with “Sunshine” elf and the girls LOVE waking up in the morning to see what sort of clever spots he has found. I’m also totally with you in that I think I have at least as much fun with it as they do! Also, in response to Crystal above – I was laughing so hard, I can definitely see how the little elf is a teensy bit creepy (this year they came out with a soft cuddly version that is definitely less creepy, yay for that!) 🙂 Thanks for this, Katy! And congrats again on winning NaNo!!!!!!

    • katyupperman says:

      Sunshine is such a cute name! The first thing my girlie does when she comes downstairs in the morning is look for Alice. She loves the whole idea, and started asking when Alice would arrive the day after Halloween. 🙂

  5. Ghenet Myrthil says:

    I love this! I could totally see myself doing this when I have kiddos of my own. It’s such a sweet tradition. Your daughter is lucky to have a fun mom doing this for her!

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