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What are Some Traditional Holiday Books for Children?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 23, 2024
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Traditional holiday books make great gifts for children of all ages. Children who are too young to read on their own will love having these great stories read to them. There are some excellent holiday books to choose from, including classic stories that parents will likely remember from their own childhoods. Do you remember any of these?

'Twas the night before Christmas is a classic poem that was written by Clement Clarke Moore. It was first published in a newspaper in the 1800’s, and later became one of the all time favorite holiday books to read on Christmas Eve. The updated version, titled The Night Before Christmas is a pop-up version written by Robert Sabuda that injects further humor into this charming tale.

Do you remember A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens? Who could forget Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future? Mr. Scrooge is offered a rather harsh look at life through his “Bah Humbug!” attitude and is shown the true spirit of Christmas. A Christmas Carol is one of the many holiday books that will touch the entire family.

Other charming holiday books to add to your collection include Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch goes out of his way to ruin Christmas but soon learns that gifts and treats are not what makes Christmas so special. The Whos down in Whoville show us how the spirit of Christmas can melt even the coldest of hearts.

Here’s a new take on an old story, written by Jimmy Hawkins, the man who once played Tommy in the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Another example of lovingly illustrated holiday books, this tale is the sequel to the traditional story. Look for it under the title It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids!

The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg is considered a modern classic in holiday books. This delightful adventure describes a boy’s enchanting journey by train to visit the North Pole on Christmas Eve. This story, like the others above, has also been made into a movie, although the book has its own unique magic.

If you celebrate a holiday other than Christmas, or perhaps you simply want to include other cultural celebrations in your festivities, you may also enjoy holiday books on Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Look for titles such as I Have a Little Dreidel by Maxie Baum, an adorable pop-up book based on the traditional song of the same name. Also, look for My First Kwanzaa, a picture book by Karen Katz.

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Discussion Comments

By lluviaporos — On May 10, 2012

@bythewell - I would argue that it's best to bring your kids to the library and let them pick their own books.

I mean, if you have some holiday favorites of your own, of course you should share them, but kids like to be given a choice in what they read and if books are always used as a prop for serious discussions that could make them less enthused about reading down the line.

There are so many different and lovely holiday books for kids and the library will almost certainly have them on display at the relevant time, so let your kids be drawn to what they want to read.

By bythewell — On May 10, 2012

One of the most beautiful and simple Christmas picture books I've ever read was This Is The Star which was illustrated by Gary Blythe.

He does these fantastic oil paintings for the books he illustrates.

I can't remember what the words were like, to be honest, although I know it's a recounting of the biblical Christmas story. I just remember the pictures were stunning.

I think that you have to be aware of all the other faiths at Christmas as well. Don't just give your kids Christian themed books to read, or at least let them read books that promote tolerance as well.

Kids holiday books tend to be fairly inclusive though. Remember if you aren't Christian that your kids are going to be exposed to a lot of Christian messages at that time of year, so picture books can be a good way to explain what's going on.

By indigomoth — On May 10, 2012

My favorite picture book for Christmas when I was a kid was the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer book.

The book was taken from a booklet that was published by a department store in the late 30's. Apparently they wanted to invent a character that they could use in coloring books that they published every year, so they hired an author to invent a Christmas themed book.

It was a big hit right away and they followed up with the famous Christmas carol about a decade later.

The original book was a purely commercial venture, but it's such a wonderful and timeless story. One that most people can relate to I think. And the re-released book that I had was really well illustrated as well.

I would definitely buy it for my kids.

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