For those who celebrate Christmas, this is a special time filled with traditions old and new. Whether those festivities are traditional or quirky, there are children’s picture books out there to get young readers into the holiday spirit.
Christmas Is Joy, opens a new window by Emma Dodd
A young reindeer learns the importance of the simple things at Christmas time: spending time together, laughing, feeling the love of those around you. This rhyming book’s simple message combines with metallic details in some of the illustrations to give this book a magical feel.
Bulldozer's Christmas Dig, opens a new window by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
It’s Christmas Eve, and the trucks are busy carrying, lifting, and moving, getting things ready for Christmas. But while everyone else is working, Bulldozer is worrying. He doesn’t have any presents for his friends. He decides to look around the construction site and see what kind of treasures he can find in what’s right around him.
Jan Brett's The Nutcracker, opens a new window by Jan Brett
Jan Brett takes the classic story of young Marie, the Nutcracker, and the Mouse King, and puts it into picture book form. The wintry Russian landscape, along with beautiful, detailed illustrations of characters in elegant and ornate costumes and settings, conveys the Christmas mood.
Magical Christmas Store, opens a new window by Maudie Powell-Tuck, illustrated by Hoang Giang
Benji’s grandma has told him about the magic of Christmas, but this year he is doubtful. His family doesn’t have any money, and, as a whole, his family is feeling sad. He longs to be able to buy them each a present that will make them smile again. When he stumbles upon a store that is glittering and sparkling and staffed by talking animals, he starts to think maybe there is magic to be had at Christmas.
Santa in the City, opens a new window by Tiffany D. Jackson, illustrated by Reggie Brown
Deja has some real concerns about Santa being able to reach her apartment in the city, especially after dubious classmates question how Santa will get to her home when it doesn’t have a chimney and there’s no place to park his sleigh because there is no free parking downtown. Deja poses all these questions to her family, who have logical answers, but Deja still makes plans to stay up and see Santa.
A Simple Christmas on the Farm, opens a new window by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Lisa Hunt
A little girl is very skeptical when her parents decide to have a “simple” Christmas this year on the farm. They will make presents instead of buying them and make their own decorations. The little girl finally gets into the spirit when her family agrees to her idea to have Christmas in their little red barn and invite their friends and neighbors. Everyone contributes something, and they end up having a wonderful day sharing a feast and spending time together playing games and being outside in the snow.
Super Santa, opens a new window by Bruce Hale, illustrated by Guy Francis
Santa’s elves give mathematical explanations for what happens behind the scenes in Santa’s workshop. The number of presents “could stretch three times around the Earth” and Santa’s sleigh will travel about “20 million miles” to deliver them all (“like flying to the moon and back five times”). How does Santa get it all done in one night? “By flying from east to west across the international date line.” Children often have questions about Santa, and this book gives some scientific explanations.
What the Dinosaurs Did the Night Before Christmas, opens a new window by Refe & Susan Tuma
In this mashed-up version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” dinosaurs are pretending to be Santa and his reindeer, but instead of quietly dropping off presents, they are making a huge mess of everything.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.