Curling up with some holiday classics

by Carly I had no idea just how many holiday-themed books we had kicking around the house until I started rounding them up for this post.  It really comes as no surprise since our family is big on Christmas and the Little Man is no exception.  However, since our personal collection was full of books appropriate for the 0-5 year old set, I happily spent a couple of hours exploring some local bookstores and libraries  (online and in person) to rediscover some old favourites and some new stories too.

Favourite Stories for Babies and Toddlers

  • Merry Christmas Mouse by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond tells the story of "Mouse" as he counts his way through decorating the Christmas tree.
  • The Lights of Christmas by Joanne Barkan with pictures by France Brassard was an inexpensive book with a huge appeal - Jake loved hitting the button that caused lights on every page to flicker and dance.  The rhyming story of little bears dreaming of the North Pole was equally sweet.
  • After watching a Sesame Street video about different holiday traditions, the Little Man wanted to know more about them.  We found A Kwanzaa Celebration Pop Up Book by Nancy Williams and award-winning illustrator Robert Sabuda in our local library.  The vibrant colours and great pop-ups kept us busy for days.

Favourite Stories for Preschoolers

  • In our home you just can't go wrong with the stories of the precocious "David", written and illustrated by David Shannon.  It's Christmas, David! is no exception.  I must have some little boy in me too as my favourite page is the one where David runs up the street in his birthday suit.
  • Room for a Little One is beautifully illustrated by Jason Cockcroft and written by Martin Waddell.  Telling the story of the birth of Christ through the eyes of the peaceful animals who may have also sought shelter in the stable through simple prose and that stunning artwork.
  • A Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by Karen Hillard Good is Jake's pick this year.  When Donnor loses his way during a dry run prior to Christmas, some loving children take good care of him even without knowing who he is.
  • Finally, My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and illustrated by H.B. Lewis tells us what happens when Joe sends a very detailed letter to Santa regarding a certain arctic bird.  This story has resulted in a similar letter from Jacob . . . only his penguin is to be named "House".  Huh?

Favourites Stories for School-Aged Children

  • The Best Hannukah Ever was recommended by our favourite librarian when I asked about Jewish holiday traditions.  Barbara Goldin Diamond and Avi Katz tell the story of a family that gives one another humourous gifts after misunderstanding their Rabbi's advice.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss remains one of my all time favourites.  The illustrations perfectly match this classic story of materialism, greed and child-like giving.
  • Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick won the Benjamin Franklin Award and the International Reading Association Award.  Given to Jake when he was born, he's only recently starting to pick it up on his own and page through the beautiful photography.  I think he'll enjoy it even more as he gets older.
  • The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg with illustrations by James Bernardin tells of the mystery and miracle of Christmas, by highlighting the Christian symbolism found in the candy cane.

Favourite Books for Pre-Teens

  • My nephews always loved Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.  Not my personal favourite, but it the story held the attention of restless tween boys who didn't always like to read.
  • Dicken's A Christmas Carol has also been re-written under a number of different publishers for 9-12 year olds.  The classic story of Scrooge's late-night visit of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future is must read - especially if like me, you love The Muppet's version.
  • When her older brother dies in an accident, Darcy is left feeling responsible for his death . . . until she meets the boy who received his donated heart.  Searching for David's Heart: A Christmas Story by Cherie Bennett is heartwarming and touching.

Favourite Books for Teens

  • Love Santa: A Different Kind of Christmas Story by Sharon Glassman is a collection of children's actual letters to man in red himself.  In addition to the cool illustrations, Ms. Glassman also takes the time to encourage her teenage readers to become "undercover Santas".  Though she references the U.S. Postal Service, I loved the idea of turning things back on the reader with a challenge to reach out to younger children.
  • Based on a true story and taking place in 1918, The Golden Ring: A Christmas Story by John Snyder tells the story of a father and daughter who share some puzzling dreams about a golden ring.

No post on holiday reading would be complete without the classic The Night Before Christmas poem by Clement C. Moore.  There are so many beautiful versions to chose from, but our family's favourite is one illustrated by Alison Edgson with "lift-the-flap" options throughout.

What are your family's favourites?

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband and her 4 year old son, Jacob.  Probably in reverse order.   She also blogs.