Can you believe how time flies? As December approaches, you’ve probably started thinking of how your family will be spending the holiday season. No matter what holiday you and your family celebrate, there is nothing more special than cuddling up with your children and enjoying a book. When it comes to holiday books, there are countless classics. Some have been around since 1957, while some are newer and embrace celebrations outside of Christmas. Whether your children are old enough to read by themselves or prefer having you read to them, these six classic stories are perfect for a nighttime read.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss)
A Christmas classic by Dr. Seuss, featuring the Grinch and the residents of Who-ville. It is a story easily recognized by those who have read it and is even familiar to those who haven’t. With the Grinch steadfastly against the idea of Christmas, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll join the Whos in celebrating the holiday. However, with the help of Cindy-Lou, maybe he’ll find a little Christmas spirit too.
“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot … but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!”
Legend of the Poinsettia (Tomie dePaolo)
In Mexico, the poinsettia is referred to as the flower of the Holy Night, or the flor de la Nochebuenao. In Legend of the Poinsettia, a little girl brings the story of the pointsettia to life through a gift to the Christ Child. Retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaolo, the legend receives a new burst of life through dePaolo’s paintings which capture Mexico and the hope of Lucida beautifully.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Written by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman)
Christmas isn’t the only celebration held in December. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday observed for eight days and nights and is known as the Festival Lights and the Feast of Dedication. Those who observe the holiday will light a candelabrum with nine branches (the Hanukkah menorah) every night until each candle is lit on the final night of the holiday. In Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Hershel of Ostropol enters a village and finds no candle lit. He soon realizes a band of goblins have taken over the town’s synagogue, preventing the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins may be a tad ridiculous, but it is a wonderful story to share around the holidays.
Tree of Cranes (Allen Say)
Christmas has become more than just the day of Jesus Christ’s birth. It is the time of year where people come together to share memories they have had throughout the year and show how grateful they are. Tree of Cranes tells a story of family, giving, and the hope for peace. In it, a young boy in Japan experiences Christmas with his mother for the first time. She ties their two cultures together by decorating the tree with paper cranes, a symbol of happiness and good fortune in Japan.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Clement Clarke Moore)
No Christmas is complete without sharing the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. First published in 1823, the poem has become a favourite around the world and throughout generations. It is a story that paints an example of what Christmas is like for many, capturing the quiet serenity of a home before the arrival of Santa Claus. In the poem, the father bears witness to Saint Nicholas and his reindeer as he fills the stockings hung up by the chimney. It is a timeless piece that leaves children curious and adults nostalgic.
The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats)
If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, The Snowy Day is perfect for you. Featuring a young boy named Peter, The Snowy Day captures the magic of the first snowfall brilliantly. As the weather clears, but the snow remains untouched, Peter sets out to explore his neighborhood which leaves him in awe. The use of colour in the book complements the wonder Peter has, and makes readers want to keep that innocent wonder alive.
Many cultures celebrate the holiday season in different ways, which makes us curious about what stories there are to be told. If you have a story which wasn’t featured that you read with your children, please let us know!