With kids in the mix, we try to go big with the holiday spirit. But the kiddos are so young that they know very little about the holidays. Reading books together is a fantastic way to introduce them to Santa, elves, and more. There’s nothing better than cuddling up in a warm blanket and reading about the magical adventures that take place during the holiday season. It’s a family tradition we love repeating year to year. In the midst of this holiday season, I’m reading the few holiday books we own for the umpteenth time (some good ones, several duds) and I decide we desperately need to expand our holiday collection. I found so many good books online that I wrote two posts (check the other one out here)!
Reading about all the wonderful holiday books got me thinking that a gift basket or crate full of holiday books could make a wonderful gift for parents of young children. Maybe top the crate off with a comfy throw, some cocoa mix and marshmallows, a set of pajamas and a goofy holiday hat? Sounds perfect to me. We’re still filling our basket over here so I have rather limited knowledge of the myriad holiday books that you can buy, but I’ll discuss some that we love and highlight some treasures that my research uncovered. Above, my sister stained a crate and filled it with Christmas books. (my mother knit the stockings!) Doesn’t it look lovely?
HOLIDAY CLASSICS AND ONES WE LOVE:
The Night Before Christmas: This classic tale has seemingly infinite variations – crochet shapes, legos, or pop-ups?! But the illustrations in this version are fantastic. Santa looks incredibly welcoming and jolly and my daughter can’t get enough of his cherry nose. Here’s another version that looks great. Or this one. Gosh, there are so many!
Bear Stays Awake for Christmas: Speaking of illustrations, this book gets tops for the homey, cozy atmosphere depicted in the pictures. There are so many cute details -Mouse riding on Bear’s back in front of the Christmas tree, Mouse’s tiny stocking, the adorable gifts!- that you see new things on each read. The book captures the holiday spirit and joy of giving perfectly.
Frosty the Snowman: We have this version. I’m not sold on the illustrations; it’s alright. But there are lots of other versions to choose. How about this one? Or this? My kids can’t seem to get enough of my awful rendition of Frosty.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: This is a classic. I love the message. The movie isn’t half bad.
Polar Express: Here’s another great one to add to a holiday collection.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey: This tale gets high marks on Goodreads. Recently, I was reminded of the mixed emotions the holidays bring to those who have lost loved ones. I haven’t read the tale but it delves into loss and seems to be a gentle reminder that the holidays might not be a joyous occasion for others.
The Jolly Christmas Postman: Each Peach Pear Plum is one of my childhood favorites. This story by the same author centers once again on a collection of classic fairy tale characters. This time it looks at their letters to the North Pole. Priceless!
Snowmen at Christmas: This is cute. The rhymes are clunky at times but the illustrations depicting snowmen celebrating Christmas capture the family spirit perfectly (snowpeople giving their littles piggyback rides, etc.).
MORE HOLIDAY BOOKS TO CONSIDER:
Letters from Father Christmas: Wow, I never knew this collection by J.R.R. Tolkien existed! It’s a collection of letters and illustrations from Father Christmas that he wrote to his children. My search uncovered another, Christmas Day in the Morning, written by Pearl S. Buck, that sounds equally charming.
The Christmas Tree Elf: Mrs. Claus wishes for a Christmas tree. This story highlights the importance of the elves in making Christmas so magical and special.
Peter Spier’s Christmas!: This is a wordless book that details the preparations and activities surrounding the holidays. The Snowman, another wordless book, is a popular tale about a charming snowman. Its message about friendship is sweet, but be forewarned the ending is sad. It has fuzzy, dreamy illustrations. We watched the movie and it was a bit slow.
Once There was a Christmas Tree: A Bear family share pieces of their extra-large Christmas tree with their neighbors. The cover features a tree that you can shake like a snow globe. (Sold!)
The Very Snowy Christmas: One snowy day a mouse imagines scary things in the shapes created by the snow, but he soon learns that snow makes for a magical Christmas.
Santa Mouse: Mouse realizes nobody gives Santa presents so he decides to leave him a present.
Christmas on West Seventh: This won’t be for everyone but Minnesotans might enjoy it. It’s written by Jerry Fielding, a cartoonist for the Pioneer Press.
Merry Christmas, Stinky Face: I took my eldest daughter to a production of I Love You, Stinky Face. It was my first introduction to the precocious girl and her questions. I imagine she has lots of questions surrounding Santa, and this book seems like a great way to broach some of the questions that I’m sure my daughter has in regards to the holiday.
So, I know I’ve neglected Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas biblical stories. I meant to do another list but haven’t finished. The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah looks good. Also, Together For Kwanzaa is popular.
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.