Monday, December 10, 2012

20 Children's Book for Christmas!

There are countless Christmas books out there, 
here are my current favorites, as my gift to you:

Great Joy  
By Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Great Joy is my new favorite children's book for Christmas.  Really, with the team of DiCamillo and Ibatoulline, it would be hard not to create something special.  On my first reading, I literally felt my chest swell with joy and had to shake my head to keep the tears away.  One brilliant page turn left me filled with the joy of triumph, good news and grace.  

By Barbara Robinson; illustrated by Laura Cornell
When we were kids, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever " was one of my little sister's favorite movies.  When I saw the picture book last week, I had to pick it up, because I was already smiling at the memory of the hilarious Herdman family.  Barbara Robinson refashioned her original story into picture book format in the best possible way.  I feels fresh and real, well-written and funny.   It pulls at the heart strings, while telling the real story of Christmas.  I think this one's worth a purchase.

By Olivier Dunrea
Bear Noel was a surprise, one of those hidden gems you secretly hope to find when you sift through a pile of seasonal library books taller than your Christmas tree.  Anticipation builds as each animal announces the coming of Bear Noel, first Hare, followed by Wolf, Fox, Boar, Hedgehog, Possum and Owl.  Each spread I got chills as I read, "He is coming," whispered Hare.  Perhaps I'm feeling overly allegorical these days, but I couldn't help but parallel all of creation rejoicing in eager anticipation, waiting for the arrival of the king.

By Macky Pamintuan 
My four-year-old loved this interactive, seek-and-find-style, modernization of the twelve days of Christmas.  Nolan giggled, searched and counted his way through the whole book.  As a bonus, it was an effortless way to introduce my little guy to a classic Christmas song.

By Lauren Thompson; Pictures by Jon J Muth
If you followed my 31 Days of Children's Book Crushes, you know that I have a crush on the watercolor artwork of Jon J Muth.  I love the quiet simplicity of this Santa story paired with Muth's gorgeous, hushed art.  There is a bit of magic in the pages.

By Anne Margaret Lewis; illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
I met the author two years ago at the Traverse City Book Festival and took home a signed copy of Santa Goes Green for my boys.   A little boy named Finn doesn't want any toys this year.  Instead he wants only one thing for Christmas: to save his adopted polar bear, Leopold.  It's the universally inspiring story of "one boy, in one town, who can make a difference".  Even though we aren't big Santa or environmental people (don't hate us), Finn's story is irresistible.    Lewis writes excellent read-aloud dialogue and Chavarri's artwork made me love Finn and Leopold even more.  

By Elizabeth Cody Kimmel; illustrated H. B. Lewis
Historically Santa messes up Joe's Christmas gifts, so this year Joe was very specific about what he wanted.   A real live penguin pet --not a stuffed one-- with the name Osbert.  This year, Joe was gifted with his exact request -- and learns that sometimes it's best not to receive the thing we think we want most.  After reading Mr. Popper's Penguins this year, my boys love penguins. Or maybe they already loved penguins, so we read about Mr. Popper.  Regardless of the chicken or the egg, any outrageous story about kids having a penguin pet is an instant hit around here.  

By Helen Ward; illustrated by Wayne Anderson.
This pair has a history of creating picture books that are simultaneously eery and transcendently hopeful (The Tin Forest and The Dragon Machine ).  I like that Finding Christmas is consistent with their former work.  A little girl searches the streets for a special gift on Christmas Eve.  Along the way she is met with wonder, frustration and the perfect provision.

By Eve Bunting; illustrated by Timothy Bush
We just finished reading The Cricket In Times Square , so this little tale of a lost and lonely cricket finding significance at Christmas was spot on.   I love the idea that a cricket song is the like the voice of the angels praising, singing Joy to the World the Lord is Come.  It reminds me of Luke 19:40: "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." And other verses like Psalm 19:1-4, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the earth."  The little cricket is praising, even when we are too distracted to hear him.

David Milgrim
Nicholas Duck is excited to be Santa's helper this year - until his younger siblings tag along and keep messing things up.  They get over-zealous and over-promise on Christmas gifts to every one they meet, which had everyone in our family laughing.  In the end, as is so often true in real life, his brothers and sister are the best tool to help him grow in patience and generosity.

Night Tree
By Eve Bunting; illustrated by Ted Rand
My seven-year-old added this one to my list.  He came home from school this week and told me all about it because he loved it so much.  He even remembered the title.  It's the story of one family's Christmas eve tradition.  They set out to find a tree - but they don't cut it down as the reader might originally assume.  They do something much more interesting.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger
By Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman (Bear Snores On) team up again to create this sweet story.  Little Mortimer just wants a comfy place to rest and finds the manger in the family nativity set is the perfect bed for a mouse.  Until one night when he hears the family read the Christmas story and learns about the baby who truly belongs there.

Uncles and Antlers
By Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by Brian Floca
A hilarious book about Octavia reindeer and her seven crazy uncles, who each have a special talent (like impersonating Elvis) and happen to pull Santa's sleigh. Lisa Wheeler always cracks me up.  Floca's loose illustrations add another layer of humor.

By Chris VanAllsburg
The quintessential Christmas book.  Most years the boys request it all year long, but this year we're pulling it out just in December.  One year, after hearing about a friend's fun evening, we put Polar Express-inspired train tickets on the boys' pillows and took them for a wintry drive to see all the Christmas lights.  Popcorn, pjs and a road trip = special memories.

By Laura Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond
My kids love all of Laura Numeroff's If You Give books.  For some reason this one is my seven-year-old's favorite.  Check out the Christmas edition for its extras, a fun seek-and-find Christmas tree with mouse and all her ornaments, and some Christmas recipes.

By Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman
You've gotta have a Bear book on your list.  Enough said.

By Lisa McCourt; illustrated by Cyd Moore
Same goes for Merry Christmas, Stinky Face .  Though I don't love it like I love the original, we still get it out of the library every year and celebrate a little bit of Christmas with our pal, Stinky Face.

By Gennady Spririn
There is something special about this book that draws me into its world.  I usually hate books that reprint song lyrics as text, but this one is transcendent.  Reading the words of We Three Kings, one of my favorite Christmas songs, juxtaposed with Spirin's opulent artwork really exalts Jesus as the king of kings.  "Born a King on Bethlehem's plain; Gold I bring to crown Him again, King forever, ceasing never, Over us all to reign."  I love that this book was created by a Russian-born artist.  Russians understand kingship in a way that we, as Americans, never can.  If you go through Advent with your kids, this book would be a beautiful addition to your tradition.

By Kate Klise; illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
When his loving mama knits this bunny the perfect hat for Christmas, he is inspired to make a hat for each of his friends.  Each hat is elaborate and unique, perfectly designed for its intended recipient.  I love that the child character draws and designs each one so thoughtfully, then works hard with his mother to craft them.  At first his friends are less than happy with their quirky hats, until a big storm hits... 

Truth in the Tinsel
By Amanda White
This advent ebook was written by Amanda White, who blogs at OhAmanda and ImpressYourKids.  You can learn more about the book and/or purchase it {here}.  Amanda is always a blessing.  She has a beautiful heart for children and impressing them with the word of God.

Since book recommendations are my favorite gifts, please, please tell me your Christmas favorites!


  1. I enjoyed reading your list! Two of our favorite Christmas books are The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell. Thanks for giving us some recommendations on other great books!

    1. Thanks for sharing your favorites! We own Room for a Little One - my boys loved it when they were younger. =) I'll have to check out The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree...I don't know that one...yet.

  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome! Thanks for encouraging me to pull it together. I've been swamped with a book deadline and wouldn't have found the time if you hadn't asked. But now, I'm so glad I did it. =)


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