I’ve been pleased to find that the public library that services our new island has an ample selection of Christmas books for children, so on our last two visits, I’ve scoured the shelves, looking for titles both new and well-loved. In fact, last Friday, baby-girl had to peel me off the floor in front of the Christmas books when she deemed it necessary for me to “stop looking for Christmas books and start helping me find more princess books.”
At any rate, the last library visit inspired me to compile a list of my favorites. Without further ado then, here it is, my list of some of my favorite children’s Christmas books, in no particular order.
Pearl S. Buck, author & Mark Buehner, illustrator
Pearl Buck’s classic tale of love between a father and son is beautifully illustrated, with exquisite pictures of nighttime on a farm. Also noteworthy is a message from the illustrator describing the impact the story had on some of his children one Christmas years ago.
Laura Numeroff, author & Felicia Bond, illustrator
Honestly, I’m not even sure I get this one. But far be it from me to argue with science. And the science (involving close observations of three small people whose identities shall go unmentioned) tells me that kids love this book. It’s just goofy in a pointless and yet circular sort of way that makes kids laugh when they read it. Plus, it’s also available in paperback, so if you are like me and like kids to have free reign of most of their books (My theory: If you treat books more like toys and less like Grandmother’s expensive china, in most cases, they’ll be used with the corresponding frequency), you can still sleep at night knowing this one might be wedged between a Power Ranger and a Strawberry Shortcake picnic table at the bottom of a toy box somewhere.
Lisa Ann Marsoli, author & The Disney Storybook Artists, illustrators
I’ve included this princess book for those of you who are going through “The Princess Years” with your small children. I bought this for my daughter last December, and her eyes stayed wide for a full minute after receiving it. It includes four stories, each one about one of the Disney Princesses, that all center around Christmas traditions where the princesses act decidedly down-to-earth, sharing small traditions and humble treats with the ones they love.
Robert Barry, author and illustrator
A tree that’s magnificent but too large to fit in Mr. Willowby’s house ultimately becomes the Christmas tree for several other homes as well. In the end of this light-hearted tale, the tree comes full circle in its journey.
Margaret Wise Brown, author & Nancy Edwards Calder, illustrator
If you fancy yourself a good oral reader, much of this story, I believe, is in the reading aloud of it. It is a tale of three sleepless siblings who sneak downstairs on Christmas Eve, intending merely to “touch the tree and make a wish before we go to sleep,” but finding more than they expected when they do. The finely-detailed illustrations take readers back in time to the Christmases of years past.
Chris Van Allsburg, author and illustrator
This story has basically achieved classic status, with some help from the movie version. My kids like discussing how the liberties taken with the movie affect the theme and the storyline, not a bad starting activity for the types of literary analysis they’ll do in school as they get older.
George MacDonald, author & Linda Hill Griffith, illustrator
This one is a personal favorite, one my dad read to us every year at Christmas time. It includes three stories and four poems. One story tells the tale of a man born on Christmas day who finds his purpose in life the day he stumbles on a little orphan girl sweeping the city streets. Another story tells of a family whose love for one another is reborn amid the tragic death of their baby boy. Unfortunately, this book is out of print, although there are still copies floating around out there if you’re committed. While it is the three stories that I love most about the book, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful as well.
What about you? What are some of your favorite children’s Christmas stories? I’m due for another library trip this weekend, and would love to hear what you and/or your kids like.