When my boys were small, this was the time of year we curled up on the couch and read Christmas books together next to the fire. It brings back memories of warm little wiggly bodies encased in footie pajamas vying for a spot on my lap, smelling of soap from the bath and hot cocoa. We read together all year of course, but there was something magical about those books, the sparkling lights of the tree, and the anticipation in the days leading up to the holidays.
I miss those days, so I thought I’d share a list of some of the favorites on our shelves. Yes, they are still on our shelves even though my oldest is now in college, my middle son is a junior in high school, and my baby is in eighth grade and far too cool for this sort of thing. I keep them because I can’t bear to part with them. They are too precious, and the memories I have of them too dear. Get them for your own children. Buy them as gifts for others. Share the love and make some memories of your own.
- AUNTIE CLAUS (Elise Primavera) – Sophie has a lot of questions about her sophisticated aunt and why she goes away on business trips every year at Christmas time. Is she just another eccentric New Yorker, or is she something else altogether? This is a gorgeous book with beautiful illustrations and a great story.
- OLIVE THE OTHER REINDEER (Vivian Walsh) – Olive is a sweet little dog who hears the verse in the Rudolph song “all of the other reindeer” and thinks the song is about her. She rushes to the North Pole to help Santa, and ends up saving Christmas.
- HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Dr. Seuss) – Come on. It’s a classic. If you don’t have it on your shelf, you need to buy it. I guarantee your heart will grow three sizes that day.
- BEAR STAYS UP FOR CHRISTMAS (Karma Wilson/Jane Chapman) – A sweet book about a sleepy bear who needs to hibernate, but wants to spend Christmas with his woodland friends. Beautiful story and illustrations.
- THE LAST STRAW (Fredrick Thury/Vlasta Van Kampen) – I’m really sorry to say this book is not available on Amazon, but I’ll share the link below in case you can find it at a library. It’s an incredible book, and the toy camel that we bought to accompany it is also adorable. This is a family favorite, and I hope it goes back into print again soon.
- SNOWMEN AT CHRISTMAS (Caralyn Buehner) – All of the Snowmen books by Caralyn Buehner are fantastic, but this one is really special. Besides a wonderful story, there are hidden pictures on each and every page. Absolutely glorious.
- THE POLAR EXPRESS (Chris Allsburg) – Another classic about a train that takes children to meet Santa at the North Pole. Every year we tried to replicate the hot chocolate the children drank on the train, but never really succeeded.
- THE SNOWMAN (Raymond Briggs) – And yet another classic! This book is so gorgeous and wonderful, and we really enjoyed the film as well. There are no words in the movie – just the beautiful illustrations from the book and incredible music.
- THE MITTEN (Jan Brett) – What my children loved about this book, besides the absolutely intricate and perfect illustrations and great story, was the fact that there is a hint on each page about what is to come on the next page. Wonderful!
- THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (Robert Sabuda) – Who doesn’t love a pop up book? And this one is amazing. I still like to flip through it now. We have several of Robert Sabuda’s books, and they never ever disappoint.
These are just ten of our favorites, but there are many, many more out there. I’m curious about the new books coming out this year. I may have to go to the book store, pull up one of those little chairs in the children’s section, and get lost in a few of them. Maybe I can even convince one of my big, far-too-cool-for-picture-books teenagers to come with me. Now that would be a memory!
What are your family favorites?