Growing up my mom (who happens to be a teacher) instilled a love for books in my sister and I from a very early age. Every occasion warranted a new book– birthdays, holidays….coming of age (hello, Our Bodies, Ourselves) and of course Christmas. When I was grown and living in New York City and our family dog passed away a copy of Dog Heaven showed up at my door (I still can’t read this book with out crying). Books were always part of gifts for family members and friends — these books always told important lessons and had beautiful illustrations. I’m so grateful my mom passed this love on to me and taught me how impactful reading can be. Now, to be able to share the world of books with Piper has been nothing short of joyous for me. Our holiday book collection is growing (about half way to my goal of 25 right now) and today I’ve compiled a big list of holiday books I think are worth reading to the children in your lives. They share different traditions, religions and races. They teach lessons and leave a smile on your face. I’ve spoke with friends, educators and found some titles myself. I hope you’ll consider expanding your collection of holiday books to include a few of these. I’ve been checking out books at the library (go NOW to find holiday books) and ordering used copies on Amazon for literally pennies! Enjoy!
**Disclaimer, please don’t hate me. I’ve spent many hours writing this post and wanted to get it up before the holidays so in an effort of time I’ve used edited book descriptions from Amazon with my personal notes.
1. The Legend Of The Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola: In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuenao flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside. This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. *I’m a big fan of Tomie dePaola and can’t wait to pass my childhood collection on to Piper!
2. The Dreidlel That Wouldn’t Spin by Martha Seif Simpson: In this beautiful holiday story, the happiness and joy of the Hanukkah miracle will warm the heart of young and old alike with its simple message: wonders still occur for those who are ready for them.
3. The Nutcracker with illustrations by Maurice Sendak: A classic! *I grew up with this version of the Nutcracker.
4. Christmas In The Manger by Nola Buck: The gentle beauty of the story of the first Christmas is now available as a board book. With a simple, lyrical text and radiant artwork, this book is perfect for the youngest child to be a part of the wonder of the Nativity.
5. Wombat Divine by Mem Fox :Wombat loves everything about Christmas–especially the Nativity play. He’s wanted to be in it for as long as he can remember. At last he’s old enough to try out. But at the auditions, the first part goes to someone else. So does the next. And the next . . . Will there be a part left for Wombat? *Piper really likes listening to this one right now and loves the other two Mem Fox books we have.
6. The Night Before Christmas: There are so many wonderful versions of this book. I collected it as a child and last year started a collection for Piper of her own.
7. Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Palacco: When a leak ruins the sacristy wall in his father’s church, Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks Christmas Eve service will be ruined. Luckily he and his father find a beautiful tapestry, perfect for covering the damaged wall and giving the church a festive look! But then, an old Jewish woman recognizes the beautiful cloth. Her discovery leads to a real miracle on Christmas Eve.
8. The Trees Of The Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco: Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family’s preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. **I ordered this book recently and love the story so much.
9. Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer: Everyone’s favorite piglet helps to make the holiday season brighter than ever in this board book edition of an Olivia favorite. *If your child likes Olivia books they will love this holiday tale!
10. Daddy Christmas, Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko : The perfect holiday book for a child of mixed religions.
11. Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson: A holiday offering from part of the popular Bear book series.
12. Dream Snow by Eric Carle : It’s December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter’s nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow!
13. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: A holiday classic that deserves a spot on every bookshelf.
14. My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz : A simple way for young readers to get acquainted with Kwanzaa
15. The Christmas Truck by J.B. Blakenship & Cassandre Bolan: When celebrating a special Christmas tradition things go awry. Papa, Dad, their amazing kid, and one fabulous grandmother work together and implement a plan to save Christmas for a child they have never met.
16. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett: Little Teeka thought she had to be firm with the reindeer to get them ready for Santa’s important flight, but when her bossy yelling only got their antlers tangled up, she knew she had to try something different. *The illustrations in Jan Brett’s books are so beautiful.
17. Brining In The New Year by Grace Lin: This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. *I listened to a podcast with Grace and became obsessed with her work shortly after!
18. Silver Spurs by Robert Knigge: Don’t have a fireplace and looking for an explanation on how Santa gets into your house? Meet Silver Spurs, Santa’s smallest, brightest elf. *This out of print book has recently gone up in price in the Amazon used marketplace so keep your eye on it during the off season.
19. The Boy Of The Bells by Carly Simon: Carly Simon’s delightful bedtime story about a young boy named Ben and his little sister, Miranda, who has been unable to speak for more than a year. Ben climbs the village bell tower and strikes midnight early to summon Santa’s special assistance
20. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss : The ultimate Dr.Seuss Christmas classic *Somehow we don’t have this in our collection, yet!
And there you have it! What am I missing? What would you add? Let me know at @TheMamaNotes on Instagram.
Images by Anna Reynal
Get Piper’s PJs here