I want to share with you my favorite Christmas books. I love books, and I love reading to children. After a gazillion years, these are the ‘tried and true’, stories that children love. Me, too!
Grab tissues, laughter, and wonder, and some history. Some books you will recognize. Others might seem new, but they’re not— they’re just better.
The first time I read The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg was was in 1985, when the book was published. I was at a huge family Christmas gathering. Someone put the book in my hand and asked me to read it to the crowd. This was a new book for me, and as I read the words I was on that train ride. The ending was hard to read aloud with my heart in my throat. The movie is good, but the book is superior.
On Christmas Eve, by Peter Collington is a captivating wordless book, in the style of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It is based in England, with fairies and Santa Claus traditions. It is fascinating to follow the fairies helping Santa!
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry is a delightfully predictable tale of a tree that is too tall. Each time the top is snipped off, it goes to someone else who has the same problem, and so on. The mouse gets the very last tree top. The story is done in rhyme, always a delight to the ears of children.
Morris’s Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells is the story of Morris, the youngest in the family, who is too little to play with his sibling’s gifts. He discovers one last present under the tree, a disappearing bag. I wonder if J.K. Rowling read this book- perhaps it was the inspiration to create Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
Carl’s Christmas, by Alexandra Day is one of the Carl book series. It is beautifully done with full color illustrations. Of course Carl is a dog who is often left to look after the baby. That beginning alone is a story grabber. Best of all, it is a wordless book, leaving much to speculate and talk about.
Santa Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins is the newest book on this list. Bruce is a grumpy old bear, and is again the victim of mistaken identity. He is not the real Santa, yet all the animals are convinced that he is. The book is absolutely hilarious.
If I had to pick only one out of the pile of books, it would be Apple Tree Christmas, by Trinka Hakes Noble. The story takes place in New Hampshire in the 1800’s. A blizzard, a farm, a tree, and a child who loves to draw. It is thrilling from beginning to end… grab the tissues, it’s a true story.
My almost number one book is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, by Gloria Houston. The story takes place in rural Appalachia, close to my roots. It is a story of rural traditions, WWI, a train, and what a mother does on Christmas Eve. And, it’s a true story. Recommended for kindergarten and above.
Merry Christmas, Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola is a favorite. Everyone loves Strega Nona and Big Anthony. This book incorporates the culture of Italy and Christmas, and the lessons of life.
Night Tree, by Eve Bunting is a modern tale that tells the story of a family and their tree in the woods. Every Christmas Eve the family bundles up and heads from their house to the woods. They find “their tree”, the one they have decorated every year for the animals. It is a well written story, weaving adventure and giving, and family being together.
Dr. Seuss has always been one of the best. He outdid himself with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The message of the true meaning of Christmas shines through in this book. Please skip the movie, it doesn’t hold a candle to the book.
Every adult should read these books. Period. They are that good. Then, spread the joy and learning by reading aloud these books to children, young and old. They will love the stories. You will, too.