Picture Perfect Holiday Books Children

by on August 27th, 2010
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Christmas is a time to celebrate love and goodwill, and to hopefully have some fun in the process. Here are some of my favorite picture books about Christmas and the holiday season. These picture perfect books offer several different perspectives on the season, and the spirit it might inspire. Some I revisit every year; some are new discoveries for me as my children get older and get even more curious. If you have a favorite that I missed her, please share it with us in the comments since there is no way to list all of the great related titles here.

Feliz Navidad: Two Stories Celebrating Christmas by Jose Feliciano is a beautifully illustrated bi-lingual version of the popular Christmas song. The book offers a look at Christmas traditions in two different cultures, offering details of a Christmas in Puerto Rico to compliment the Spanish lyrics and American-style celebration with family to match the English lyrics. The book does a great job of bringing students from the two cultures together and fostering understanding.

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers is a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells an abridged version of the classic tale. This version stays true to the original, but shortens it enough to make the story the right length to read aloud in a single sitting. The watercolor illustrations of ballerinas tell the story of Marie Stahlbaum, who breaks the spell on placed her toy nutcracker and is able to watch him change back into a handsome prince. This is a perfect choice for introducing the story to younger children, particularly in preparation for performing or attending the ballet.

A Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco is a touching tale about the holiday season and joyful reunion. Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks that Christmas Eve will be ruined when a leak ruins that wall of the sacristy at his father’s church. However, Jonathan and his father discover a lovely tapestry to cover the hole in the wall. It also gives the church an extra festive look. The tapestry leads to a real holiday miracle when an elderly Jewish woman visiting the church recognizes it. Her recognition brings about a reunion of holocaust survivors that is truly joyful. I have trouble reading this book aloud, mainly because it is hard to read while fighting back tears, or crying outright.

December by Eve Bunting is another tear jerker. This tale is about a boy and his mother that only have a cardboard house they built themselves to call home. As Christmas approaches they decorate their home with a tiny tree and an angel painted on a wall. Christmas Eve arrives, and though they do not have anything to spare, they help an elderly woman by letting her spend the evening with they and give her a space to sleep that is warmer than the street. In the morning their guest is gone, instead they see the angel from the painting hovering over the cardboard home. This is a perfect story for starting discussions about homelessness, generosity, and helping others.

The Christmas Magic written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jon J. Muth tells the story of Santa and his preparations for Christmas. In the far north, Santa gets ready for his night of giving by gathering his reindeer, getting his sled ready, and choosing the perfect toy for each girl and boy. Christmas magic and one generous heart spreads joy and cheer throughout the world. The beautiful watercolor illustrations perfectly match the text and have readers of all ages watching the skies on Christmas Eve.

Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation by Linas Alsenas is about just what the title suggests. Mrs. Claus hitches up the reindeer and takes a trip around the world right before Christmas. She leaves Santa and the rest of the reindeer behind to fend for themselves for the first time in a long while. Great illustrations portray the Clauses as they each miss the other and have their own kind of adventure.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is a year round read in my house, along with The Lorax and Thidwick. In this Christmas classic, the Grinch is a cold-hearted and rotten creature. He is set to stop the Whoville’s Christmas Whobilation. He dresses like Santa Claus, with his poor dog Max dressed like a reindeer, and goes to each and every home. But, instead of leaving presents, he takes presents, food, decorations, trees and treats. When the town celebrates anyway perhaps the Grinch will learn something about the real meaning behind the holiday.

Other picture book suggestions include; The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean, The True Gift: A Christmas Story by Patricia MacLachlan and Brian Floca, The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton, A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe and Michael G. Monroe, Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne, Jim Griffin and James Griffin, The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher by Robert Kraus, Vip and Virgil Partch, and A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates and Sebastia Serra.

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