My littlest and I went to the library yesterday to gather kids holiday books to read like squirrels and their acorns. At least that’s how I felt. During the holidays it’s important to sit down with kids and read to them so they can understand why we celebrate. The root of all of these holidays is a celebration of life, our family and friends, and extending kindness to others. Here are some books to read that remind us of that.
20 Heartwarming Kids Holiday Books to Read
The Animals’ Santa
by Jan Brett
When Big Snowshoe tells Little Snow that the animals’ Santa is coming with presents for everyone, Little Snow wants to know who he is. The animals say they have never seen him. Maybe he’s a badger, a moose, a polar bear, or a wolf, they tell him. But this spunky little rabbit thinks they are just fooling him.
On Christmas Eve, Big Snowshoe finds a way to see the animals’ Santa when a Snowy Owl in a red cap swoops down with a pack full of presents. Never again will an excited Little Snow doubt that there is an animals’ Santa.
Christmas In The Country
by Cynthia Rylant
Cynthia Rylant returns to her Appalachian roots in this story of a young girl who lives with her grandparents in the country. As in her very first book, WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS (for which illustrator Diane Goode received a Caldecott Honor), Rylant evokes the warmth of the joyful Christmas season and celebrates the greatest gift of all–the love of family. Diane Goode’s cheerful watercolors capture the festivities of the season, from Christmas trees loaded with homemade ornaments to the snow-covered countryside. A warm, evocative portrait of a loving family and a favorite season.
The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg
Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.
The Christmas Wish
by Lori Evert
In the tradition of The Snowman, The Polar Express, and the many books of Jan Brett this cozy Nordic tale filled with extraordinary photographs will have readers of all ages believing in the magic of Christmas. This is one to pull out every year and savor.
Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. A generous trim-size, matte cover, and foiled title make this a special book for the holiday season.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
by Gloria Houston
The Armistice has been declared, but still there is no sign of Ruthie’s father in their little Appalachian town. So, in accordance with the traditions of Pine Grove, it falls to Ruthie and her mother to bring home the perfect Christmas tree to donate to the town. Ruthie had accompanied her father to the rocky cliff where he marked a tree in the spring, so she and her mother set out to find it again, and haul it home. Their trip becomes the basis overnight of a new town legend; Ruthie, chosen for the role of the heavenly angel in the the church Christmas play, finds herself outfitted in a made over wedding dress of the finest silk another “miracle” wrought by her hardworking mother. An accomplished, fluid telling garnishes this simple story, as do Cooney’s moonlit paintings of wintry evenings and the welcoming glow of fire and lanterns. Ruthie is more or less an observer; her mother is the real heroine. But the way they work together to keep their family’s duty is rendered in a harmonious blending of text and pictures. Ages 4-8.
One by one, woodland animals find it and crawl in; first, a curious mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last. Finally, a big brown bear is followed in by a tiny brown mouse and what happens next makes for a wonderfully funny climax.
As the story of the animals in the mitten unfolds, the reader can see Nicki in the borders of each page, walking through the woods unaware of what is going on.
In her distinctive style, Jan Brett brings the animals to life with warmth and humor, and her illustrations are full of visual delights and details faithful to the Ukrainian tradition from which the story comes.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books)
by Karma Wilson
Bear’s friends are determined to keep Bear awake for Christmas! So they wake Bear up and have him help them find a Christmas tree, bake cakes, hang up stockings, and sing Christmas songs. Bear stays up—by discovering that giving is one of the best Christmas presents of all!
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! In his dream he imagines a snowstorm covering him and his animals—named One, Two, Three, Four and Five—in a snowy blanket. But when the farmer awakens, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something! Putting on his red suit, he goes outside and places gifts under the tree for his animals, bringing holiday cheer to all.
Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree
by Lori Nichols
Lori Nichols’s delightful book celebrates the bond of two nature-loving sisters, and their ability to find fantastic kid-powered solutions to any problem—and it will give allergy sufferers an extra reason to celebrate.
Maple and Willow love trees—and now they are getting their first real Christmas tree. It is going to be the best Christmas ever! After a snowy expedition to pick out the perfect tree, it’s time to decorate. But whenever Maple gets near the tree, she starts sniffling and sneezing. Could she really be allergic to the perfect Christmas tree? And if so, how will the girls find a way to make this the best Christmas after all?
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
by Anna Dewdney
How long till that special date?
Llama Llama has to wait.
If there’s one thing Llama Llama doesn’t like, it’s waiting. He and Mama Llama rush around, shopping for presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree . . . but how long is it until Christmas? Will it ever come? Finally, Llama Llama just can’t wait any more! It takes a cuddle from Mama Llama to remind him that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
by James Dean
In this rockin’ spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do. This updated edition of Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, a New York Times bestseller by James Dean and Eric Litwin, features a foil jacket and includes a free sticker sheet!
‘Twas the day before
Christmas and Santa was ill.
In the cold winter wind he
had caught a bad chill.
Will Christmas be canceled?
Will it come to that?
“Never!” cried Santa.
“Let’s call Pete the Cat!”
The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes
by Linda Glaser
It’s the last night of Hanukkah, and more relatives are coming than originally planned. Rachel decides to borrow potatoes from Mrs. Greenberg. She asks Mrs. Greenberg, who is all alone, to come for Hanukkah. But Mrs. Greenberg is very stubborn!
Seven Candles for Kwanzaa
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
For more than 25 years, African-American families have celebrated Kwanzaa–a holiday, inspired by their ancestors, that celebrates the harvest season. With a rich, informative text and stunning four-color illustrations, this book will help young children to begin their own Kwanzaa celebration.
From a letter written by her grandmother, Rebecca learns that winter began on June 21, while she was cooling off under the hose. The northern half of the Earth began to grow cold, and the days grew shorter. The birds began to fly to the sunny underside of the Earth, and the groundhogs and bears went to sleep. But on December 22, summer will begin. Before long, Rebecca will take off her shoes and jump over bluebells.
It’s Ramadan, Curious George
by H. A. Rey and Hena Khan
It’s the first day of Ramadan, and George is celebrating with his friend Kareem and his family. George helps Kareem with his first fast and joins in the evening celebration of tasting treats and enjoying a special meal. Then, George helps make gift baskets to donate to the needy, and watches for the crescent moon with the man in the yellow hat. Finally George joins in the Eid festivities to mark the end of his very first Ramadan.
You Are My Merry
by Marianne Richmond
Perfect for sharing a cozy moment with a special child, You Are My Merry reminds us of the magical gift of spending Christmastime with the ones you love. Marianne Richmond’s sweet illustrations and heartfelt prose offer a way to celebrate the best connections of the season.
You’re my love and my joy,
a gift I’ll always carry.
Through Christmas and forever,
you are my merry.
Merry Christmas, Stinky Face
by Lisa McCourt
Fans of I Love You, Stinky Face, will love this Christmas story! Stinky Face loves Christmastime…but he still has plenty of questions. What if a big, wintry wind blows his Christmas tree away? What if one of the reindeer gets his antlers stuck in the branches that hang over the roof? Luckily, his imaginative Mama knows how to reassure him that Christmas will be magical!
A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree
by Colleen Monroe
This charming tale of an overgrown pine always being passed by for Christmas, and what his woodland friends do to help him, is sure to become a Christmas classic. With delightful illustrations by wildlife artist Michael Monroe and enchanting text from Colleen Monroe, the birds, deer and squirrel of this story help make their special friend’s wish come true.
How to Catch Santa
by Jean Reagan
From Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish, creators of the bestselling HOW TO… series, comes a delightful new offering, written again in a hilarious instructional style. Two sibling narrators give clever tips for “catching” Santa (be crafty! be clever! be gentle!) on Christmas Eve. Filled with humor and holiday warmth, this is a jolly read-aloud for the whole family to enjoy!
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
by Susan Wojciechowski
“Christmas is pish-posh,” grumbles Jonathan Toomey, the best wood carver in the valley. He’s a Scroogelike recluse; but he’s a gentle grouch, it turns out, and he hides a sad secret. He’s transformed, not by Dickensian ghosts, but by an eager seven-year-old boy and his widowed mother who ask him to make them a Christmas creche. The story verges on the sentimental, but it’s told with feeling and lyricism (he “traveled till his tears stopped” ). Lynch’s sweeping illustrations, in shades of wood grain, are both realistic and gloriously romantic, focusing on faces and hands at work before the fire and in the lamplight. In a beautiful, elemental scene, the angry wood carver stands on the threshold of his home, disturbed by the gentle widow and her son who want his help and will transform his life. Hazel Rochman –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Snowmen at Christmas
by Caralyn Buehner
One of the more charming new books of the holiday season, this reintroduces the jolly snowmen (and women) from Snowmen at Night (2002). This time they are enjoying the Christmas season, venturing out during the moonlit night (while children sleep) to gather in the town square. It’s not what happens here (primarily a visit from a snow Santa and some carols ’round a tree) but the rich art that makes this special. As in the previous book, Buehner does magical things with light in his paintings. From the cover, where snow people frolic in the moody blues of evening to the scene of a city street where holiday lights cast a mellow glow to the quiet picture of a lightening morning sky, children will be enchanted by the hues of the acrylic artwork. The text is sprightly with a to-the-point rhyme scheme that only occasionally verges on singsong. Little ones, especially, will enjoy the celebration as the snow people relish their special night.