The nights are getting longer, and the weather is getting colder as we approach the end of the year. Fortunately, there’s plenty to celebrate during this chilly season. It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up with your children and ready stories about the history and traditions behind the holidays we celebrate each year. Take a break from all of the stress of family planning and holiday shopping with 10 children’s books to read this December. Enjoy!
P.S. This post contains affiliate links. I have provided a purchase link in each book title so that you can find it for your family easily and affordably. If you buy something through this link I might get a small commission, but I would be recommending these books no matter what! 🙂
Grab the hot cocoa mugs with extra marshmallows and cozy up for a whole evening celebrating one of the most beloved holiday classics. This 1985 book by Chris Van Allsburg has been warming children’s hearts (and adult’s!) for decades. All aboard this celebration of winter and the spirit of Christmas that sends a message of hope and belief in something bigger than ourselves. You can extend this story into a movie night with the 2004 adaptation, or grab your favorite holiday pajamas and snag some tickets to one of the real life polar express adventures that are taking over train stations all over the country. Either way, don’t you dare forget the hot chocolate ;).
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Everyone knows this traditional Christmas story. Most of us can recite it with our eyes closed to our children before bed. Maintain that tradition by passing along Clement C. Moore’s story with Cheryl Harness’s beautiful illustrations and keep the tradition going. Read this one on Christmas Eve, with your kids all tucked in bed and waiting for Santa to arrive.
The passing of Anna Dewdney was a recent tragedy that hit our family hard, as Mia adores the Llama Llama books with their clever rhymes and cute characters. Patience is always a lesson to be learned by Llama Llama, who is anxious for Christmas to arrive so she can open lots of presents. Mama Llama has to teach her little girl that the best gift of all that we can receive is the one of sharing love with those we care about most.
The Christian Christmas traditions are so mainstream in our culture, that sometimes we neglect to take the time to recognize and appreciate the other cultural and spiritual celebrations that take place in December. It’s so incredibly important to teach our children to understand and respect what is important to everyone, so try growing your collection of stories that celebrate all of the holidays that are recognized. Karen Katz tells the story of Kwanzaa and how it’s celebration over a seven day period, with an easy to understand story and vibrant visuals.
Hanukkah is such a sacred and important holiday to so many people in this world, and it’s one I know much too little about. I’m trying to remedy that by helping both my stepdaughter and myself learn about the traditions and celebrations of this Jewish holiday. Eric A/ Kimmel brings us Hanukkah Bear, a story about a bear and a local woman who come together to enjoy the holiday (and the latkes) together.
The Fancy Nancy series is for all of those kids who think everyone in life could use an extra little bit of sparkle. Glasser’s illustrations in these books are simply stunning, a spectacle of celebratory detail and fun. Fancy Nancy takes on Christmas in this story, where she hits a bit of a hiccup with her grand plans to decorate an elaborate Christmas tree. This books has also been adapted into an on stage musical that toured from 2015-2016.
4. Dream Snow
Chances are your child has no shortage of Eric Carle books on their shelves. With his signature artwork and character-focused stories, you can usually recognize his books without even reading the name on the cover. This seasonal story of a farmer who dreams that snow has fallen on his land and realizes Christmas has come. For everyone who looks for snow as that signature reminder that the holidays are here, this one is for you!
The Grinch really needs no introduction, and neither does the story’s titular author. Dr. Seuss’s tale of redemption and explanation of the true meaning of Christmas as a time of joy and love is one that bears repeating in every home, every year. My family and I kicked off our seasonal celebrations with this story, and it never ceases to be a favorite. So crack open the spine and be reminded how the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes, and how yours can too :).
Author Vivian Walsh based this story on her own Jack Russell Terrier in the sweet book about a dog undergoing an identity crisis all because she mishears one line in a legendary Christmas song. Determined to fulfill her destiny as one of Santa’s reindeer, she heads off to the North Pole. Olive, the Other Reindeer also has an animated adaptation you can easily find online to accompany your storytime, and it gets bonus points for being voiced by the fabulous Drew Barrymore
So many current holiday traditions derived from the much older celebrations of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Your Christmas tree? Chances are you never thought too much about where that idea comes from, but it was originally used in solstice celebrations as part of the symbolism of transitions: sustaining the animals through the winter and setting intentions for the new year as the days begin to get longer again. Learn more about the winter solstice along with your little ones with this book.
Thanks so much for taking the time to explore this list of children’s books to read with your family this December! What are your favorite books to read with your children during the holidays? Let me know in the comments! Also, check out some grown-up book recommendations here and here so you can treat yourself when the holidays are over.