Get your shamrocks and shillelaghs ready, because it’s March and St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! As each holiday approaches, I’m quick to jump on the local library website and place holds on a bunch of children’s books about the holiday. Since Zoey and Eleanor are still so young, they don’t really understand what most holidays are about yet, and books are a great tool for explaining.
I requested the following books for St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks ago and, after endlessly reading and re-reading them to the girls, I have my reviews ready for you. I hope you find this helpful. Erin Go Bragh!
This was by far my favorite of the bunch. It tells of two towns that compete each year for the best St. Patrick’s Day decorations. One city wins every year, while the other is always the loser. This year, the losing city has a plan that is sure to finally win them the trophy. When an intriguing stranger comes seeking help from the two towns (spoiler alert: he appears to be….a leprechaun!) only one of the two towns has it’s priorities straight. In the end, each town is rewarded in exactly the way it should be and we are left with the idea of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day simply for the joy of it, rather than for a competition. My favorite part of the book: the character who comes up with the best ideas and who helps remind everyone about the importance of helping others is a young girl. This book is especially awesome when read aloud with a terrible Irish accent, which is exactly how I read it to my kids.
St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting.
One of the things that first caught my eye about this book is that it is illustrated by Jan Brett. This book tells the story of an Irish boy who wakes up before everyone else on St. Patrick’s Day. He is considered too young to partake in the holiday traditions that his older brother’s will enjoy, in particular the parade walk up to the top of a large hill. So the small boy sets out to the top of the hill on his own, with several encounters along the way. It is whimsical and sweet, with fun Irish dialogue (break out that accent again!). My favorite part: In the end, the boy is satisfied with proving his abilities just to himself.
St. Patrick’s Day by Anne Rockwell
This book was the best of the bunch for explaining a bit of the St. Patrick’s Day traditions observed here in the U.S., and a bit of the history of the holiday. Many of the children’s books about this holiday seemed geared for older children when describing the origins of St. Patrick’s Day. How do you explain to a preschooler – who is being raised without religion – about the shamrock representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? This book glosses over all the religious affiliations of the holiday, as well as St. Patrick’s kidnapping, escape and Catholic conversion. Instead it offers a child-friendly snapshot of St. Patrick “teaching people to be nice to each other” and scaring all the snakes out of Ireland. A good book for introducing your child to some basics of the holiday without getting into all the religious details.
Jeremy Bean’s St. Patrick’s Day by Alice Schertle
This book actually has very little to do with St. Patrick’s Day, other than the tradition of wearing green clothes. It is about a school-age boy (Jeremy Bean) who is a little bit afraid of the school principal. When Jeremy forgets to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day, he learns that the intimidating principal is actually a kind ally. A good lesson, overall, even if the book is lacking in holiday relevance.
Little Bear Marches in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade by Janice
First off, why do the author and illustrator only have first names? I find this confusing. Secondly, this is another book with very little to do with St. Patrick’s Day. Thirdly, my kids absolutely loved this book. I think we read this one twice as many times as all the others. Little Bear and his friend mouse have a magic umbrella that stops the rain whenever it is opened. When the March weather is horrid, they are called on to save the day for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There is a small lesson about keeping your promises (and you can extrapolate a message on forgiveness), but mostly it is just a silly, charming tale.
There you have it folks. An assortment of St. Patrick’s Day books for the 2-6 age range. Go pour yourself a green beer and get reading!