For many young students winter break starts this week. Which means extra time at home with our kids. Plus, if you are in a city, either currently on lockdown due to COVID-19 or buried under a few feet of snow, you’re probably not looking to go anywhere. But being stuck inside, in this week leading up to Christmas, ain’t all bad! Put down the phone, turn off the news, snuggle up next to a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa (or Irish coffee, I won’t tell), and read an amazing holiday book with your favorite little ones. Books don’t have to be just for bedtime. And sitting down to read in the middle of the day can be really rewarding for parent and child. My son loves the book, I love the opportunity to slow down during a busy and stressful time of year (any year, but this year in particular), and we both love having that special time together. You may just find you all enjoy your best winter break yet.
Now I must admit, before I started this blog, I didn’t know a lot of Christmas or holiday kid books beyond The Polar Express (a great book if for some reason you’ve never heard of it) or a personal favorite, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. However, I’ve dug in and found some awesome books I am excited to share. You can either pick these up at the library (hopefully via curbside pick-up if your library is closed), on Amazon, Bookshop.org, or you can download them instantly on Kindle. In some cases the books even come in audiobook form, so you can listen with you kids in the car, while baking, or even wrapping presents. A fun alternative to the same Christmas songs played over and over again. There are so many ways you can enjoy these books with your kids today, and fill their winter break with meaningful moments together with you. Here are 10 holiday books to enjoy with your kids for your best winter break yet:
by A. E. Ali, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
I was really excited when I found out we were the first people to check this new picture book out at the library. Our Favorite Day of the Year, tells the story of four classmates who become best friends over the course of a school year. They become close by celebrating their favorite holidays together for show-and-tell at school. In the book we specifically learn about Eid Mubarak, Rosh Hashanah, celebrating Las Posadas for Christmas, and even how a science-loving family celebrates Pi Day. The adorable illustrations perfectly capture the joy these kids have in sharing theirs, and celebrating their friends, favorite days of the year. In our family we love any reason to celebrate and this book is full of a years worth of learning, friendship, and celebration.
The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains
by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Paola Zakimi
The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains, tells the story of a pine tree, on a farm, who grew closest to the train tracks. Consequently, this tree loves trains and the rumble and zoom of the train when it chugs by. But one day a boy, who though he saw the tree smiling of joy from the passing train, decided it was the perfect tree to take home for his family’s Christmas tree. The simple story of this cute little pine tree taken from the trains he loved, surprisingly took me for a wave of emotions, but ultimately left this overly emotional mom happy for the Christmas tree who loved trains. It is a sweet story for any child who loves the magic of the holidays and of course trains.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft
In Room for a Little One, the reader witnesses the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the animals resting near the manger that night. In this story of compassion, four barnyard animals all put aside their differences to huddle close for warmth in a stable, and eventually also invite in the tired donkey carrying Mary and Joseph. If your child loves animals like mine, they will love this version of the Christmas story, and if gorgeous illustrations are a prerequisite for Christmas books, Room for a Little One, does not disappoint. I am personally saving this one for a perfect Christmas Eve bedtime read.
by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
In Great Joy, Frances loves listening to the organ grinder and his monkey that play music across the street from her apartment. But after realizing they have no where to go at night, Frances invites them to her Christmas play at church. This picture book, with stunning artwork takes you back to Christmases before my time and feels like a Christmas book my mom would have loved to read to me. However, for a book that came out this century it does feel a little old fashion, but my son loved the monkey and searching for it on nearly every page.
by Sherri Duskey, illustrated by Jake Parker
If you’re looking for a little Christmas fun, look no further than, The 12 Sleighs of Christmas. In this laugh-out-loud rhyming romp, Santa’s Elves discover his sleigh is damaged. Panicked with two weeks before Christmas, they set out, competition style, to build Santa a better, different sleigh. They build a dragster sleigh, a big rig sleigh, even a blimp sleigh, but when it comes to decide which will be used on Santa’s big ride, it is the smallest elf, Tim, who knows just what to do. This colorful, comical tale will definitely be an annual favorite for you and your kids.
by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Charles Santore
Reading this with my parents was never part of my youth, but when I saw the art in this version, I just had to pick it up. I am waiting until Christmas Eve to share this with my son, and I am eagerly awaiting it. Classics are classics for a reason. This Christmas poem about Santa’s Christmas Eve visit to one family, mixed with nostalgia inducing artwork, will certainly please all Christmas audiences.
by Naomi Kleinberg, illustrated by Christopher Moroney
The last night of Hanukkah may have been last week, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t still enjoy a game of Dreidel! I can never turn down a little healthy competition, especially one that involves chocolate. This book, a personal favorite of my son’s, follows Elmo as he learns about Hanukkah and playing Dreidel, with his friends, Gil, Susie, and their family. Elmo’s Little Dreidel is a perfect holiday book for all Elmo, Sesame Street, and chocolate gelt fans.
by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould
These early reader books perfect for third to seventh graders, take you to the fictional world of Elfhelm. A Boy Called Christmas, tells the origin story of Santa Claus. The Girl Who Saved Christmas, tells the story of the girl who received the first Christmas present. Fair warning, these stories are not all sugar plums and candy canes and are full of real emotion. However, you and your older children will certainly be left in the Christmas spirit following the stories of these brave kids. A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas, often said as reminiscent of a Roald Dahl novel, are certainly as entertaining for the adults as for your children. Got to love that!
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
by Angels Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Daniel Minter
Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that began in America and is celebrated by people of African descent all over the world. The seven candles (one black, three red, and three green) lit during Kwanzaa stand for the Nguzo Saba or seven principals. These principals are all part of the story of Seven Spools of Thread. This ancient tale is about seven sons in Ghana who are challenged by their deceased father to turn seven spools of thread into gold. Plus, there is a fun activity guide for weaving your own belt in the back of the book. Not of African descent, we do not celebrate Kwanzaa in our house, but the lessons in this book are universal and I find learning about different holidays and cultures invaluable knowledge for me and my son.
Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas
by Gail Piernas-Davenport, illustrated by Marion Eldridge
In this fun rhyming picture book, Shante’s grandma forgot the black-eyed peas for their traditional New Years celebration. So, she sends Shante to the neighbors to borrow some peas. However, Shante soon finds out not everyone on new years eats lucky peas. Neighbor after neighbor in search of peas, Shante learns about many different cultural new years celebrations and invites them to share in hers. As 2020 comes to a close, we undoubtedly will be celebrating the closure of a year unlike any other. This book, cherished time with my husband and son, and maybe some lucky peas, will certainly be part of our party (at home of course).
The memories your kids have of reading with you, will not go forgotten. I know, because I still remember all the special times of my parents reading to me. So, I hope you feel inspired to get cozy with the kids in your life and read some great books this winter break. Plus, its not too late for one of these books to find their way into a stocking or under the tree. Finally, I hope you and your family enjoy your winter break, and please what ever, where ever, or how ever you celebrate this holiday season I hope it is safe, healthy, warm, and very merry.
For more information on how to check out books and utilize your library during the Covid-19 pandemic check out my post, The Best ‘Covid-Fatigue’ Solution for Parents: Your Local Library, and please comment if you have any great holiday book finds, you’d like to share.