Hanukkah is underway, but for kids celebrating Christmas the agony of waiting three more weeks may be making them antsy. Solution? Beautiful, fun, children's books to read in anticipation of the holiday.
I have a giant stack of Christmas-themed children's books I've been setting aside in preparation for this post, but I made some tough cuts and narrowed it down to twelve favorites (à la the 12 Days of Christmas). The last one is actually a Hanukkah book that tells some of the history and traditions of the holiday through a silly story about a family of latkes. It's fun, and even though the Festival of Lights has started, I just had to include it in this list...
Fans of Sherri Duskey Rinker's Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site will love her new holiday themed picture book. Each of the construction vehicles contributes to a big Christmas surprise, and finds a surprise of their own as they head off to bed. The construction obsessed may want to read this one for the next 20+ days. Ages 3-7
Older kids may not believe in Santa Claus anymore, but that doesn't mean they've given up the stories. Author Matt Haig has written two earlier Christmas novels that are clever, irreverent, and also kind (A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas). In his latest, Father Christmas and Me, the Easter Bunny is out to ruin Christmas and must be stopped. Funny and heartwarming. Ages 8-12
The classic Christmas carol is re-imagined with gorgeous mixed media illustrations. Nine ladies dancing becomes nine glorious butterflies and the five golden rings are accompanied by rather sophisticated looking frogs. There are many versions of this title out there, but Anna Wright's artistic style made this one stand out from the crowd. Ages 4-up
A fun holiday themed addition to Higgins' books starring the grumpy bear Mother Bruce. In this picture book, Bruce is somehow mistaken for Santa and his goslings think he's perfect for the job. Sure to elicit smiles and giggles, Santa Bruce also gets across the importance of giving and friendship. Ages 4-7
A Christmas story that really gets to what matters this time of year--community and caring for one another. A leftover tree and a homeless boy bring happiness to each other in this story of hope and sharing that I will read to my daughter from this year on, and then I'll just read it myself. Ages 5-8
Aniother fun one from Elise Parsley who always makes me laugh. In this holiday themed picture book a little girl mistakes a pirate for Santa, decides the pirate should meet Santa, and what happens next (hint: pirates are always on the naughty list...). Ages 4-7
A little girl is excited about all the sights and sounds of Christmas, and when she encounters a person in need instead of turning away, she looks for how she can help. I like that this picture book faces a difficult reality of the season head-on, and shows a young person being compassionate and giving. Ages 3-6
A sweet adventure story that has Christmas wishes, Santa Claus, and a dinosaur! Santa's found a dinosaur egg and after hatching it, accidentally gives it to a boy who thinks his Christmas wish has come true. But someone else wants to get their hands on that Christmas dinosaur... This would make a great holiday read for the whole family. Ages 8-12
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