Here are some great holiday books to share with children you love. CLICK HERE for a Kids in Service Book List printable that you can take with you to the library or local bookstore.
For the Kids
Every now and again a picture book will surprise me and blow me away. In 2018 my kids and I were doing an author study of Kate DiCamillo and were loving all of her humorous books. This beautiful book was a big surprise and did bring “GREAT JOY”. This is the sweet Christmas story of a little girl and her caring heart for the man who lives on her street corner. This story of kindness and hope is perfect for EVERYONE ages 5 and up.
Every year I find a new holiday book that touches my heart and for 2019, it was Gracie’s Night. This is so much more than a book about Hanukkah. This is a book about kindness, love, giving and thinking of others. I LOVED this book and feel EVERY child (person for that matter) should hear it. I recommend it for ages 4 and up. From the Publisher: “THERE’S LOTS OF LOVE in Gracie’s and Papa’s lives, but not much money. Gracie finds a resourceful way to buy Papa some well-deserved Hanukkah gifts, but an encounter on a bitterly cold night opens her eyes and alters her plans. When we are brave enough to reach out instead of looking away, each of us can bring someone a miracle.”
This picture book is a simpler version of the New York Times best seller, the Invisible Thread. Both are the true story of a woman named Laura who builds a friendship with a boy named Maurice who she met on a NYC street while asking for money. I LOVED the adult book and was so excited when I found this book last year for my children. It is a heartwarming tale about their first Christmas together and the start of their life-long friendship. I recommend it for ages 5+ and highly recommend the adult book as well.
From the publisher: “A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world. This is a heartwarming, timeless picture book.”
This is my FAVORITE Berenstain Bears book and it is a wonderful lesson for children about the importance of giving and serving others in their community. I recommend this for children ages 4+. From the Publisher: “Brother and Sister Bear can’t wait for Christmas and all the presents they’ll open. But during the Christmas Eve pageant, something special happens! The Bear cubs learn a very valuable lesson about the joy of giving to others.”
If this book does not make you smile, I do not know what will? The illustrations are so vivid and expressive. This beautiful story about giving will be come a family favorite for kids 3 and over. From the Publisher: “We’ve all heard the story of the three wise men who brought their gifts to Baby Jesus. But what about the camels who carried them? Here is the story of Humphrey the camel and his long, cold journey to Bethlehem.”
This is a great book to teach the story of Hanukkah and why it is celebrated. Children as young as 4 can hear this story and learn about the miracle long ago that is celebrated during Hanukkah. From the Publisher: “Hanukkah is a wonderful time filled with games, food, family, and fun. It’s also the celebration of an ancient miracle, and retelling and remembering the story of that miracle is an essential part of the holiday, for young and old. The story of the courageous Maccabees is retold in simple yet dramatic text, accompanied by vibrant paintings of the battle, the Temple of Jerusalem, and the oil which miraculously burned for eight long nights.”
From the Publisher: “A family of adorable pigs decides that this year they will make their gifts to each other for Christmas rather than buy gifts. Each family member is excited to try. Momma makes breakfast, Dad makes a blanket, and sister Rosie sings a song. But the littlest pig struggles to come up with an idea. What can he make?”
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden and illustrated by Barbara Cooney is a beautiful picture book to share with children ages 5 and up. Please don’t let the length of the book scare you away, treat it more like a chapter book and read over a couple of days. From the publisher: “Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney’s luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.”
From the Publisher: “Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.”
This favorite book has become part of a Winter Solstice tradition in our family. You can read more about that HERE. From the Publisher: “By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods.”
From the Publisher: “Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle. The moving, lyrical tale, gloriously illustrated by P.J. Lynch, has been widely hailed as a true Christmas classic.”
This is our FAVORITE Hanukkah story but it can be a bit frightening for young children. This is a story about a traveler who comes upon a small village where they are not celebrating Hanukkah because goblins have taken over the synagogue. The traveler sets out to defeat the goblins using his wit. A wonderful story about staying strong, being brave and standing up for what you believe in. I think this book is wonderful for children ages 6 and up. Maybe younger if your child is okay with the ideas of monsters.
This short and sweet book brought tears to my eyes. The illustrations are bold and fun and the story is simple and so sweet. This story is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit and is great for ages 3+! From the Publisher: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish–for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.”
From the Publisher: “The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history.”
From the Publisher: “Li’l Rabbit is not having a very good Kwanzaa. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so his family won’t celebrate his favorite part of Kwanzaa this year: a big feast called Karamu. Li’l Rabbit knows what to do! He’ll find Granna Rabbit a special treat for Karamu so she can celebrate anyway. Inspired by Brer Rabbit, a trickster character from the African-American folklore tradition, the story of Li’l Rabbit captures the true meaning of Kwanzaa—coming together to help others.”
From the Publisher: “Armand, an old Parisian living on the streets of Paris, relished his solitary life. He begged and did odd jobs for money to keep himself warm and fed, and he liked his carefree life. Then one day just before Christmas, a struggling mother and her three children walked into his life. Though he tried to ignore their troubles, Armand soon found himself caring for the family and sharing his unusual home under the bridge with them. It did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.”
From the Publisher: “Sadie and her four little brothers are very poor and always hungry. On the first night of Chanukah, Sadie performs a generous act, and in turn receives a frying pan that cooks up sizzling hot, golden latkes on command. Sadie tells her brothers never to use the magic pan, but when she goes out one afternoon, the mischievous boys can’t resist. They remember the words to start the pan cooking . . . but what were the words to make it stop?”
This book is no longer in print but you may be able to get it at your local library. This is a sweet story of kindness is all about Imani learning about Kwanzaa and her family traditions from her grandmother. In this story it is the sixth night of Kwanzaa and time for the Karamu (the big feast of Kwanzaa) on New Year’s Eve. It is Imani’s turn to light the Kinara on this special night and she is nervous. What will the gift for Imani be?
From the Publisher: “Based on her bestseller Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp expands her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree with this beautiful keepsake. Each December, families can celebrate the coming of Jesus by opening the book to see a stunning 13-inch, three-dimensional Jesse Tree pop up from the page. At its foot are 25 doors, one for each day of Advent, which hide meaningful, beautifully detailed ornaments that are ready to be hung on the tree. Also inside is a simple devotional book with a reading for each ornament.”
From the Publisher: “Based on the overwhelming success of The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp has expanded her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree so families can celebrate together. Each day, families can read the provided Scripture passage (in connection with the original book), engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme. This special edition is beautifully illustrated.”
This is a nice alphabet book that helps to understand all of the Swahili words and customs associated with Kwanzaa. This is a great book for your family if you have never celebrated Kwanzaa before and would like to learn more about this festival of light and family. From the publisher: “A unique alphabet book for children and a wonderful introduction to Kwanzaa, the holiday that celebrates African American heritage.
For example:A is for Africa — Africa is the second largest continent. It has many countries. African Americans’ ancestors came from Africa. Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates the rich heritage of Africa.”
For the Adults
From the Publisher: “Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s profound reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ, so that come Christmas morning you find that the season hasn’t blurred past you but your heart’s fully unwrapped the greatest gift you’ve always yearned for. Sure to become a holiday staple in every Christian home, The Greatest Gift, a New York Times bestseller, is the perfect gift for the holidays and a timeless invitation into the richness of the true meaning of Christmas.”
This book started a new tradition in my family a few years ago. This is a heartwarming, fictional story about a family who saves their change all year long in a jar to pass on anonymously to someone in need at Christmas time. This story has gone on to create a whole movement of real life Christmas Jars. Thanks to this book, people are changing many lives and spreading hope and love with a jar of loose change.
This book is about a family who is grieving the loss of their husband/father at Christmas time. Anonymous gifts begin to appear daily on their door step and with each gift, they are given a little more hope and healing. This beautiful book inspired a friend and I to do something similar a few Christmas’ ago when another friend lost her husband. This is a wonderful tale to read at Christmas time to inspire you to spread some love and kindness to someone in need.
This story is on my reading list this month. From the Publisher: “Celebrate the season of miracles with this collection of short stories about the lives of ordinary people and the lessons they learn during an extraordinary time of year.
As Moore’s protagonists face adversity and sadness, they learn important lessons, gain hope, and experience powerful transformations.”
This is a fun book filled with joy, love, hope and holiday spirit! You will fall in love with Joy, Miranda and the characters they meet along the way on their road trip from Chicago to Phoenix. This is a light read that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit.
Richard Paul Evans is the king of short Christmas novels and The Christmas Box was his debut. I read this last Christmas and was touched by it’s important message. Here is what the publisher says: “So begins The Christmas Box, the touching story of a widow and the young family who moves in with her. Rick, Keri, and their 4-year-old daughter, Jenna, are hired as caretakers and are welcomed into the Victorian home of Mary Parkins, an elderly widow, just before the holiday season. As the relationship between Mary and the family develops we learn that Mary’s past sorrows are compelling her to share an important message with Richard. But will he understand her message in time? A heartwarming story of parental love, healing, and Christmas.