By Anaita Vazifdar-Davar
Christmas is my family’s favorite time of year. For us bookworms, the best way to bring on the holiday cheer is curling up with a book…or two, or three. We’ve gone through plenty of wonderful reads, but these are the ones we turn to time and again.
William’s Winter Wish, by Gillian Shields
Little mouse William longs for snow. Looking through his beloved grandfather’s childhood photos, he too wants to make a snowmouse and skate across the frozen pond. Grandpa suggests he wish on his beautiful snow globe, so William does so. But then he gets a little impatient and, oops, drops the snow globe. How can William show Grandpa he’s sorry? And will his wish come true? Even though we’ve read it enough times to relate the story by heart, I don’t think my children and I will ever tire of this book.
Snowy the Christmas Snowman, by Maureen Spurgeon
Simon and Julie are thrilled when they wake one morning to see it has snowed. They want to build a snowman, but there isn’t enough snow. With as much as they can gather, they make a tiny one and christen him Snowy. Poor Snowy begins to shrink in the winter sun and the children worry he’ll melt away. On the night before Christmas, when everyone is snug in their homes and magic is in the air, a visitor arrives. Will he be able to keep Snowy alive?
My Christmas Counting Book
I found this at a sale of pre-owned books (what gems one can unearth there!) just as our middle child was learning numbers. From one Santa Claus dressed in red, who climbs out of bed, to ten children singing a Christmas song and playing all day long, these little rhymes help youngsters remember their numbers with ease.
That’s Not My Santa…, by Fiona Watt
Billed as a “touchy-feely book” that helps develop sensory and language awareness, this doesn’t really have a story but nevertheless delights our youngest (especially now that he can read it himself) with its different textures that help identify Santa’s accoutrements—feeling a little like Goldilocks, we find a sack that’s too rough, gloves that are too fuzzy, boots that are too squashy…and, finally, the real Santa with his oh-so-fluffy beard!
Santa’s Underwear, by Marty Rhodes Figley
It’s Christmas Eve and Santa’s getting ready to fly across the world. After a healthy dinner that includes whole-wheat toast and combing his beard so it’s smooth and shiny, he wants to get dressed but can’t find his red woolly undies. He looks everywhere, but all he comes up with is a single sock, a dusty toy and two sticky candy canes. The clock is ticking and there’s no time to lose. Will Santa have to leave without his underwear?
Christmas Delicious, by Lyn Loates
Christmas is best when it’s shared, learn Raisin and Rice, two little mice, who live in a deli filled with scrumptious treats. Apart from the sweet rhyming story, my daughter and I marveled at the illustrations, she for the food and I for the animals. There’s even a recipe for Raisin and Rice’s Christmas Treats, which I’m sure my kids will want me to make…I’d better hurry, Christmas is nearly here!
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
This has been on Christmas lists for ages, but it’s only this year that I finally read it. It’s the tale of a trip to the North Pole, but also the story of what we gain from truly believing and how the spirit of Christmas can last forever, no matter how old one becomes. On Christmas Eve, the young narrator of our story finds a giant train, “wrapped in an apron of steam” outside his house. Climbing aboard, he joins other children, all in their night suits, having a spectacular time. They sing carols and drink hot cocoa “as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars” as the train zips through the night. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens at their destination.
Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner
You’ve made your snowman and he looks great. You retire for the night, but what about your snowman? What does he get up to while you’re sleeping? This fun book puts snowmen in a new light—they gather to drink cocoa (ice-cold, mind you; they’re made of snow, after all) and play snow games…there’s baseball, ice-skating, sledding, races and, of course, a snowball fight. Kids will love to see the antics of these creatures, brought to life through beautiful illustrations and rhyming text.
Llama Llama Holiday Drama, by Anna Dewdney
My children claim I love the Llama Llama books more than they do. It’s true. Who can resist this furry friend, who, through verse, faces all the emotions children do…and grown-ups sometimes too! And his wise Mama, who dispenses advice and hugs, and shows Llama Llama how to make things right. In this book, Llama Llama can’t wait for Christmas. He is excited by the sales, baking, wish lists, decorations. Then, as the big day approaches, he feels quite overwhelmed by it all. “Too much music, too much fluff! Too much making, too much stuff!” Sounds familiar? That’s when Mama gently reminds him that the true gift of Christmas is having one another.
The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Don’t we love receiving Christmas cards? The cheerful mailman here goes around town delivering not just cards but other surprises to characters from our favorite nursery rhymes. There’s something for Mr. H. Dumpty at the hospital, one for Miss R. Hood, another for The Gingerbread Boy, and even one for The Wolf (don’t worry, “all’s well and all’s merry; The Wolf’s just wolfing pies and sherry”). Finally, there’s even a card for the postman himself (a beautiful cut-out, concertina one), delivered by someone very special. With pull-out gifts for readers, this is a book to treasure.
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger, by Karma Wilson
Mortimer Mouse wants to move out of his cold, cramped, creepy mousehole. When he spies a Nativity scene, he thinks he’s found the perfect house! He lugs and tugs and pushes out the miniature people and animals and then lies down in bed. Ah, bliss! But then Mortimer hears the story of Christmas. Oh dear! These aren’t just any statues, this isn’t just any bed. He brings them all in again and lays the baby Jesus in the manger. They are back where they belong, but what about poor Mortimer? Will he have a home?
The Nutcracker Ballet, retold by Deborah Hautzig
This was one of my daughter’s favorites. Over and again, we read about Marie, waiting excitedly for the Christmas party to start. Before she could decipher words, my daughter would narrate how Marie’s godfather, one eye covered with a black patch, gifted Marie a wooden nutcracker shaped like a little man. Although the legs were too short and the head was too big, he was special and Marie treasured him. When magical things begin to happen, we realize the nutcracker is not what he seems. And when he spirits Marie away to Christmas Wood, we enter a fantasy world, full of snow fairies and surprises on every page.
Anaita Vazifdar-Davar is a mum of three from Mumbai, India. She never leaves the house without a book (or two) and her favorite part of the day is bedtime story-time, which often extends way longer than it should. Her friends think she is a relic of the 1800s as she spends her afternoons painting, is intimidated by tech and does not exist on social media.
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