Friday, September 22nd, 2017

The Best Children’s Books For, and About, Christmas

The holidays are a time of abundance, and the children’s publishing world is no exception. Every year, hundreds of new holiday-themed books are published, each with the hope of securing a place on the “classic holiday favorites” shelves in libraries, bookstores and homes. With so many choices, parents and caregivers are often overwhelmed, and narrowing the selection to just a few favorites is a near impossible task.  Here are my recommendations for the best in holiday reading for families of all ages:

CLASSICS

  • Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore – There are so many versions of this timeless classic! Choose one illustrated by Jan Brett, Mary Engelbreit, or my personal favorite, Gennady Spirin, whose lush paintings feature an 18th century European Christmas with a Santa straight from central casting.
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs – The award-winning, wordless picture book, in which a boy makes friends with a snowman for one magical, unforgettable night.
  • A Christmas CarolIn addition to reading Dicken’s original, a fun holiday activity is to read a stage version of A Christmas Carol aloud as a family, with each person reading a different role. You can find adaptations of varying lengths and cast sizes for download online, or ask your library to recommend a version. There is also a good picture book adaptation by Dean Morrissey for younger readers.
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – The beautifully illustrated picture book by . See the film to enrich the reading experience!

PICTURE BOOKS

  • Olive the Other Reindeer, by Vivian Walsh, illustrated by J. otto Seibold –  Olive the dog misinterprets a lyric from “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” and sets off for the North Pole to find her true calling. Hilarious, unusual and endearing.
  • Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury – Jan Brett may just be the ultimate authority on Christmas. This glorious collection includes seven of her wintery classics, including The Mitten, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, and The Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • Santa Claus, by Rod Green. A lavish gift book in the same spirit as the ones about Fairies and Dragons, with flaps to lift, envelopes to open and other surprises, revealing the history, mystery, and magic of Santa Claus.
  • The Secret of St. Nicholas, by Ellen Nibali. The real story of the original Saint Nicholas, and how he came to bring gifts secretly at night.
  • The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving, by Dandi Daley Mackall. Another look at the real legend of Saint Nick, this time through the eyes of a contemporary child.
  • How Santa Got His Job, by Stephen Krensky. A hilarious peek at how Santa acquired the skill set that made him the man he is today.

CHAPTER BOOKS

  • The Adventures of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan. A magical fantasy novel about Santa Claus’s daughter.
  • The True Gift by Patricia McLachlan (award-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall.) Young Lily and her brother Liam experience a different kind of Christmas, and learn the meaning of a true gift, thanks to one white cow alone in a meadow.

‘SERIES’ BOOKS with HOLIDAY THEMES

Many, if not most, of the popular children’s book series feature a holiday editions, some more than one. Here are a few of my favorites:

Comments

3 Responses to “The Best Children’s Books For, and About, Christmas”
  1. Beth says:

    I have a Christmas tradition, nurtured over the years since the 1970s when this book came out, of reading the wonderful Canadian picture book, A Northern Nativity by William Kurelek, every Christmas Eve. It re-sets the familiar Christmas story in many different Canadian locations, in the 1930s. I find it a powerfully moving book. From the page before the title pagee — “If it happened here as it happened there… If it happened now as it happened then… Who would have seen the miracle? Who would have brought gifts? Who would have taken them in?”

    http://www.amazon.ca/Northern-Nativity-William-Kurelek/dp/0887760996/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292587283&sr=8-1 (Sorry, I don’t know how to hide the link behind a clickable title.)

  2. Angela says:

    One of the very best picture books that I have ever read is also a Christmas book. It is called “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”. The story is charming, about a grumpy woodworker who creates a custom manger scene for a young widow and her son. The little boy insists on watching Mr. Toomey carve the figures and critiquing his work. Mr. Toomey grows to love both the boy and his mother, who bring joy into his life. The illustrations are beautiful, detailed, almost Norman Rockwell-ish and they add dramatically to the story.

  3. Beth says:

    I just remembered another fantastic Canadian Christmas picture book, The House of the Wooden Santas http://www.amazon.ca/House-Wooden-Santas-Kevin-Major/dp/0889951667/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292634603&sr=8-1

    Here’s a review of it. There are incredible illustrations of the wooden Santas, and a wonderful text. (I need a thesaurus, my adjectives are a little tired.) http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol4/no14/houseofsantas.html

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