Books are always a big part of Christmas in our family. We give them, we get them, we are excited to bring out our box of Christmas books that gets stored away each year. While I always give the girls books for Christmas, they are very rarely Christmas books. Sometimes they’ll get one or two during Advent and we’ve been gifted several by others, so they have a decent collection. These are ones we own so we’re missing some obvious titles, such as The Grinch. I’ve divided them by “Religious” and “Non-Religious” since the Biblical story of Jesus’ birth is at the centre of how our family celebrates Christmas. We also try to include relevant chapters from the girls’ children’s Bible at this time of year.
Little Blue Truck Christmas – Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Although I’m the one who bought it for them, this is definitely more of a little kid favourite than one of mine. Primarily because of this final page where Little Blue Truck’s Christmas tree lights up. It’s a short, rhyming read and fun to read over and over again (which I have).
The Crayons’ Christmas – Drew Daywalt, pictures by Oliver Jeffers (Penguin Books)
While this one definitely goes along with Daywalt’s and Jeffers’ two previous Crayon books, it can work on its own too (We’ve read but don’t own the other books.) It’s especially fun because it has envelopes to open, games to play, and ornaments to hang. Probably best for ages 4 (basing this on the enthusiastically ripped open envelopes from my toddler last Christmas) but another big hit in our house.
The Jolly Postman’s Christmas – Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Not pictured because this one is stashed away as a gift for Pearl and Rose. (Shhh..don’t tell them!) Based on their love of opening the letters in The Crayon’s Christmas and their increasing enjoyment of fairytales, I think they’ll really love this book which is a favourite from my own childhood.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland – Tim Hopgood (Henry Holt, 2016)
I think I’ve shared about my love of Tim Hopgood’s songbooks before. We have all 4, in which he takes a classic song and illustrates it in his distinct style.
Christmas is Coming: An Advent Book – Katie Hickey
I really like to make Advent special with my kids and this book was a great addition to our Advent traditions last year and now again this season. Each day has an activity or a story and the girls really like opening the flaps on the front cover.
Nativity – Cynthia Rylant (Beach Lane Books, 2017)
The text is entirely taken from the Bible, a mixture of the Christmas story in Luke and then a transition into the Beatitudes from Matthew. I like that transition into the work and teachings of Jesus rather than just focusing on His birth. The illustrations are simple and whimsical, almost reminding me of finger paintings.
A Christmas Story – Brian Wildsmith (Oxford University Press, 1989)
Wildsmith’s art style is so distinctive with its gold foil colours and elaborate illustrations. I like finding the details that aren’t immediate obvious (like when Rebecca stops at the palace and through the window you can spot King Herod and the Wise Men). The story is centred around the birth of Jesus but through the eyes of the made up character of a little girl named Rebecca.
The Little Drummer Boy – Ezra Jack Keats (Viking, 2007)
Another simple book version of an illustrated song. Keats’ illustrations are soft and pastoral and we like to sing this one both quietly and with very loud “rum pum pum pums”!
Spot any of your own Christmas favourites? Any I’m missing or that you’d recommend for young children? I know this is a collection that will continue to grow over the years to come and I look forward to that.
8 thoughts on “Reading with Pearl & Rose: Favourite Christmas Books”
What do you think about books being more interactive, with envelopes and games, etc? Do you feel like it takes away from the reading part, or makes reading more engaging? I will say that when I was in grad school we read loads of stuff that was hybrid.
That’s an interesting question…as far as my own kids go, I would say it’s different from our regular reading but I don’t think it takes away from the amount of reading we do together. Because my kids can’t read on their own yet, they’re often more drawn to interactive books because they can look at them on their own in a more exciting way. I think that probably applies to older kids who can read but either struggle to do so or are less motivated. Kind of like how graphic novels can capture the attention of someone who might not read a traditional novel. There’s a popular book series by a Canadian author that is made up of letters like this but for adults. I’ve read the first couple (it’s called Griffin & Sabine) and it’s interesting but not the same as reading a full on novel so it wouldn’t be a replacement for me personally but people do love that series.
My husband argues that anything that gets books into kids hands is a step in the right direction, so your kids holding books that they can’t read yet, according to him, is a positive step on a long journey to life-long readers. 🙂
I would agree! I think it’s really important to make books and reading a positive experience for kids and that can sometimes mean letting them enjoy just being around books. My girls have “book looking” time in bed each night and both have books they will say they can “read”, even if it’s just memorization.
I love the Jolly Postman’s Christmas! What a classic. I remember reviewing the Christmas Advent Calendar book with the little flaps a few years ago and my kids and I did it together. I’ve since given it away to another family, but it was such a fun idea.
The Jolly Postman is a classic! I got the advent book for the girls last year and didn’t expect them to be so into it again this year but they are. Pearl in particular loves routine and tradition so we have to re-open all the flaps!