December 1st begins the 25 days of Christmas in our house. It began in earnest when my spouse was training, and then deployed, and it provided a countdown of sorts, something to look forward to each day during the holidays. When we added children to our family, we began reading Christmas books every night in December. Over the years, our collection has grown through gifts from others and purchases over time. Initially, we borrowed books from the library- but had to find or request them early as many other families are reading popular books then too. We have honed some of our favorites through the years. Check them out on Amazon, look at your local book store, and check your library for some of these reads this year.
Day One – Christmas In America by Callista Gingrich
Callista Gingrich tells the story of Ellis the Elephant as he travels through America experiencing Christmas. There are a whole series of books of Ellis if you enjoy a historical perspective from a child’s point of view. And the book is less than $6 at the time of this writing on Amazon. We found the book when we were visiting the Barnes and Noble that was once in the marketplace in Williamsburg just outside Colonial Williamsburg, and it happened that Mrs. Gingrich and her husband were there visiting and signing books. Ellis the Elephant was there too which was a big hit with the kiddo!
Day Two – The Ninjabread Man by C.J. Leigh
This book was a present from kiddo’s kindergarten teacher and has been a hit ever since. It is a funny twist of the Gingerbread man power, and tale of the Ninjabread and his friends as they go on an adventure. It’s definitely worth the find and read for a fun story. We have gifted this book several times through the years and it is always a hit, even with the most adverse of readers.
Day Three – A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker
A mouse teaches a bear all about celebrating Christmas. The artwork is engaging and the story is sweet. The library always had the hardback, but we scored a paperback version from a school book fair several years ago.
Day Four – Fisher Price Christmas Time Is Here Flap Book
We might only have another year left on this one being part of the rotation since the kiddos are getting older, but it definitely appeals to younger children with it’s bright colors and flaps to find holiday items throughout the story. This one has been a joy to read because even when the kiddos were babies, they could participate by pulling on the sturdy tabs. Bonus that it gets the kiddos counting without them even thinking about it.
Day Five – The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
You probably know the film The Polar Express, but the movie was idealized from the beautiful story and vibrant artwork in this story. I can recall reading this book, or being read this book, back in elementary school. It was immersive hearing and seeing the story play out, and it is worthy of being added to any bookshelf. Bonus, at the time of writing the hardback book is cheaper than the paperback one! The hardback book has lay flat pages so you can see every inch of the beautiful art.
Day Six – Find It: Christmas
The activity book is a fun way to engage and play together. The one we have I think we were gifted, or maybe found at a thrift store. It is over $30 on Amazon so I linked another activity book – Christmas Movie word search. The activity book is engaging for several ages, and gets them reading in a different way.
Day Seven: Little Golden Books Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa’s Toy Shop
These Golden Books are of classic stories. We would pair reading them with watching the claymation of Rudolph as well. The Little Golden Books are affordable at under $5 and are sturdy.
Day Eight: Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman
It isn’t Christmas without Charlie Brown. The music and the story. The book tells the same story of the television movie. The imagery is engaging. Same goes for Frosty the Snowman. The cartoon show is on our watch list every year, and the rule is we have to read the book before we can watch the film.
Day Nine: Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean and Eric Litwin
A Pete the Cat Christmas classic. Pete the Cat books are colorful, and their vibrant stories are great for young readers.
Day Ten: Nativity by Cynthia Rylant and The Story Orchestra The Nutcracker illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
These were gifts from a librarian friend of ours, and were a beautiful surprise. Nativity follows the story of Jesus’ birth using the King James Bible with beautiful paintings to illustrate the story.
The Story Orchestra The Nutcracker is beautifully illustrated AND has push buttons cueing music from the scene and story it is depicting. If I could chose any book to get from this list, it is probably this one. It is well-loved and listened to often. The music isn’t at the level of those sometimes annoying musical toys. Now that the girls are performing in The Nutcracker, I think it is even more meaningful. If seeing The Nutcracker is a family tradition you have, this is one you can see no matter where you live and no matter what is going on in the world.
Day Eleven: A Christmas Carol and Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a classic holiday tale of caution to keep Christmas spirit close. While the traditional Dickens story is what we have begun to read this year, in small increments, we began with this children’s version from our local library. We read the illustrated Muppets Christmas Carol before watching it. There are definitely darker versions of the tale to watch too, but that isn’t our area of interest. I personally think the Muppets do a fantastic job telling the story and the illustrated version does a good job sharing the tale without being overly scary for younger readers.
Any Llama Llama book is enjoyed in our house, so the holiday one was a must read. It follows along all the holiday drama, true to life for both llama and human I guess!
Day Twelve: The Brave Little Puppy and Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Shertle
The Brave Little Puppy is visually appealing. The imagery is photographs of Anja, a sweet puppy, who meets animal friends along the way.
The Little Blue Truck is a favorite here. From his first story, to this holiday tale, he is there to spread cheer. Bonus that the book lights up!
Day Thirteen: Christmas In Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgreen and Ilon Wikland
This was a gift from a friend one season and is now a favorite. It is true that the holidays are noisy, full of brightly colored papers and busy schedules, but I love it. And this village is just as busy. It is a fun read.
Day Fourteen: Christmas In Big Woods by Laura Ingall’s Wilder and Renee Graef
For Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, the setting will be familiar. In the woods of Wisconsin, Laura and her family prepare to celebrate Christmas. It was a great introduction prior to beginning the journey of the Little House books during the pandemic with the oldest.
Day Fifteen: 12 Days of Christmas Board Book and Pete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of Christmas by James Dean and Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat is a favorite in our house, and when we had a toddler and school aged kiddo, I paired these together because the paper pages of the hardback book were too enticing to be torn by the toddler. The board book with wide tabs was perfect for toddler manipulation. We still read both and the kids love that Pete the Cat has his own version of the 12 days of Christmas.
Day Sixteen: Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor
For Fancy Nancy fans, this a fun read. Creative Nancy learns a lesson on what celebrating the holidays is all about in splendiferous fashion. I’m pretty sure the silvery cover was what first drew in the toddler when we found this at the library.
Day Seventeen: The Tomten by Astrid Lindgreen
This is a story I was introduced to as an adult when a friend gifted the book to my children. It is a sweet story and has grown to be a favorite. Tomten is a winter troll who shares the promise of winter’s ending and spring’s renewal. The paintings transport us to a wintry world, even when we live at the beach.
Day Eighteen: Mount Vernon’s Magnificent Menagerie and the Very Mysterious Guest by Linda Burgess
We picked up this book on a visit to George Washington’s home of Mount Vernon in Virginia. It follows the story of Vulcan, George Washington’s foxhound, as he investigates the mysterious guest who is rumored to be coming to Mount Vernon. It is colorfully illustrated by Maggie Dunlap.
It is listed on Amazon, but would highly recommend purchasing from the Mount Vernon gift shop if you want it, there is even a gift set with a stuffed camel, Aladdin – the camel that visits the home every holiday as a nod to the camel that George Washington brought to the grounds for his holiday guests.
Day Nineteen: Santa Post by Emma Yarlett
Santa gets a letter from a little girl, but he can’t figure out what she wants…and even the ending has an element of surprise. The upper elementary school age kid still enjoys this story and laughs every time we read it.
Day Twenty: How the Grinch Stole Christmas and I’m The Grinch
The Grinch story is read ever season. A few years back I got the I’m the Grinch book at a Scholastic Wholesaler and although it lists as being over $5 on the Amazon image, if you click the link it lists the price as $1.75.
Day Twenty-One: There was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell
There are a whole series of “There Was An Old Lady Books” from swallowing a bat to snow to turkey to a spoon! The rhyming and predictable story pattern helps build sentence structure skills and phonic skills. It’s silly, and is a favorite. Although I do remember repeating constantly to the toddler, “you don’t really put ANY of these things in your mouth.”
Day Twenty-Two: The Twelve Days of Christmas in California (or your state!)
There are 50 different versions this book – for each state. We have several from family members living in different states and it is fun to read about the history and traditions of our families state. We have collected a couple for each time we move too, as a catalog of sorts of the places we have lived over the holidays. These books were a couple dollars cheaper at Costco years ago, but I can’t say that I have seen them in the big-box store this year.
Day Twenty-Three: Elf In the House by Ammi-Joan Paquette
This is the holiday version of the rhyming book Ghost In the House, follows a girl searching her house after she hears a noise. The rhyming engages language and diction development in young children, and is just fun to read.
Day Twenty-Four: The Night Before Christmas
It’s a classic about December 24th, so it is the obvious choice. There are many different versions on Amazon, I found one for under $3. Ours is a thrift store find which I want to say was $3.
Day Twenty-FIve: Itsy Bitsy Christmas by Max Lucado
The bright colors of this story and pictures share the story of the birth of Jesus from the perspective of two mice living in a barn. It is a sweet re-imagination of the Nativity story while maintaining that no one individual is too small to make a difference.
Admittedly, reading is something we enjoy and do often. Books are probably aour heaviest item moved around the world whenever the military gives orders to my spouse. I keep the books in a bin specifically for the holidays and it comes out every year to sit by the tree. The books are enjoyed during the day or nightly, depending on our activities. It is a constant, a tradition we can continue no matter where the military sends us.
What books do you read during the holidays?
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