Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Favorite Christmas Books

I am a little picky about Christmas books so we don't have much more than a dozen. (Please leave me some suggestions!)

My favorite are the classic ones from my childhood, and the Nativity books with beautiful pictures.
I think the books we grow up with are so impressionable-they form the images in our mind of what Santa looks like, and Jesus in the manger, and elves, and the wisemen.  Does it seem overly-thoughtful that I want to "choose" these images for my children?  I think it might, but I still choose carefully.
The Night Before Christmas -The one illustrated by Leaonard Weisgard on the right is my favorite.
Frosty the Snowman- I am working on getting my hands on the vintage Golden Book version of this story, but this one with vintagey-illustrations will do.



I have a Golden Book collection and a few more (like the Frosty one) on my wishlist.

My mom bought this years ago (she is the best book picker-outer) for my kids and they love this story.  Beautiful illustrated and just the right amount of words in this version of the classic fairy tale.


I love this book because it is tells the traditional story, with beautiful illustrations.  

Another beautifully illustrated book.  Mothers will love this book because Mary tells the story.

We love I Spy books.  They hurt my eyes but they are also so addicting.  Once I start a page I have to finish all the searching.

And of course, my all time favorite:
(It is out of print, so if you want one for yourself, you'll have to search a little.)

59 comments:

  1. Santa Mouse is my favorite, too!!

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  2. A Gift From St. Nicholas by Cristine Bolley, The Animals' Merry Christmas by Richard Scarry, and J is for Jesus by Crystal Bowman are some of my favorites. I love vintage golden books too!

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  3. The Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Christmas Oranges, The Legend of the Candy Cane, Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear, Snowmen at Night.

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  4. I literally just placed my Amazon order five minutes ago for a few more Christmas books for my toddlers and laughed when I saw your post :) Lots of childhood favorites for me here, but I would add Jan Brett's 12 Days of Christmas and The Wild Christmas Reindeer.

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  5. Oh how I love good Children's Christmas books.
    I can't wait to look up Santa Mouse. I'm sure you've read "Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl S Buck. That's one of my very favorites. And a new one I read just a couple nights ago my kids were so into was Snowmen at Christmas. There are fun hidden pictures in each illustration and cute storyline. The Golden Books remind me of the bookshelf my grandmother had at her house. Rows and rows. Do you remember the "The Country Mouse and The City Mouse" ? I loved that one. :)

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  6. I grew up with Santa Mouse and bought a copy second hand last year for my kids.
    Have you read The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree? I feel sure you would love it. It's my absolute favorite.

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  7. We had so many of those growing up! One of my favorites is the Christmas story from the point of the animals. My brain is mommy-fried right now so we'll just call it The Animal's First Christmas. It is a beautiful story, and we always read it right before we read the real thing in the Bible on Christmas Eve.

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  8. Christmas Day in the morning is my favorite by far! (Illustrated by Mark Buehner.) I cry every year when I read it to my five children and the crying has become as much a part of the tradition as reading it!

    Mark Buehner and his wife Caralyn also wrote/illustrated "Fanny's Dream" which is another of my all-time favorite (not Christmas) picture books.

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  9. I was going to suggest The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey but somebody else already has! But, I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful story and I'm sure you will love it, my older ones (18, 16 and 15) still sneak a listen when I am reading to our 5 year old.

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  10. I like many mentioned here! Christmas Day in the Morning was the one I added to our collection this year--tears!! One I like is Who Was Born this Special Day? It's very simple yet beautiful; I've used it twice for preschool Christmas plays.

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  11. I remember Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree from childhood. All of Jan Brett's books have absolutely gorgeous illustrations - they are usually more winter-themed than Christmas-themed, but we did love Tikka and the Christmas Reindeer.

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  12. I would second the Jan Brett suggestion for her beautiful illustrations. I also love the author Kate DiCamillo and she has a wonderful book called, Great Joy, that I read to my primary students this time of year and highly recommend. (link to book: http://www.amazon.com/Great-Joy-Kate-DiCamillo/dp/B005IUT3MS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355139518&sr=8-1&keywords=great+joy)

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  13. I love little Christmas Books - thank you for sharing yours.

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  14. Have you ever seen 'Jesus' Christmas Party', by Nicholas Allen? That's a lovely one told by the grumpy innkeeper, who is just trying to get a good nights sleep, but can't because of shepherds and wise men knocking on his door, and crowds of angels singing. But when he goes over to the stable to complain he instantly falls in love with the baby, and goes and wakes everyone in the inn up to come and see.

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  15. We love Santa mouse, but a close second is A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree.

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  16. Try this one :

    http://www.jeanettewinterson.com/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=521

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  17. Mortimer's Christmas Manger....a must!

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  18. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumor Godden and illustrated by the fabulous Barbara Cooney (I hope you ave some of her amazing books on your shelf...they are a must!) is a beautiful story. It is long, but all 4 of my children (from 12-4) love it. Christmas Day in the Morning is lovely, as is Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant. Hmm, that is all that comes to mind right now. :).

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  19. Here's a few newer ones - The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda - we keep it on a shelf so we can carefully look at it and not rip the special pages, The Gingerbread Friends and The Gingerbread Baby - we read them when we make gingerbread cookies, Mrs. Claus Explains It All by Elsbeth Claus, and The Polar Expressby Chris Van Allsburg...give you kids a big bell when you read this one!

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  20. I feel the exact same way about Christmas books from my childhood. This is why we "read" Peter Spier's Christmas. Making up our own words as we go. Love listening to my tinies add their own narratives. Great suggestions as always. Thanks for sharing, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  21. I just had to go and look at all of my Christmas books. I like The Animals' Merry Christmas-21 stories by Kathryn Jackson, illustrated by Richard Scarry, a big Golden Book. Also A Small Miracle by Peter Collingwood - no words. Another no words book is Peter Spiers Christmas. I wish I'd bought it in hardback because his paperbacks come apart after a few years, we look at them so much. Baby's Christmas by Eloise Wilkins is very sweet.
    For grown-ups, Little Christmas, by Agnes Sligh Turnbull is wonderful. The edition with pictures by James Lewicki is beautiful. I have special hopes for this book this year. It portrays a young wife considering a promotion instead of having children, and how her mother shows her what Christmas really is. I found this online, secondhand. Nearly all my books are secondhand. The Christmas in my Heart series by Joe Wheeler are marvelous!

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  22. I understand what you mean about wanting to choose the images for your children. To this day, my vision of the North Pole is a mixture of the Rakin-Bass Christmas specials. Also I was born in 1966 and my vision of Santa is very old school. A few weeks ago while shopping I came across a wall hanging with Santas image that was "my" Santa. I took a picture and sent it to my Mom and said here is my Santa. She immediately said "Oh yes it certainly is!"

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  23. Two of our favorites are "winters gift" by Jane Monroe Donovan and "great Joy" by Kate dicamillo:)

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  24. We have both Santa Mouse books and they are both excellent! I also like The Littlest Christmas Tree by Janie Jasin and Christmas Magic by Michael Garland. We have so many. This year I wrapped each book (or 2 together if they are short) and put them in a cute wire basket by the fireplace. Although my youngest is 10 she LOVES unwrapping one every time we sit down to read a book and it's such a fun surprise!

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  25. One I am loving right now for its unusual and beautiful pictures and its simple rhyme is "This is the Stable" by Cynthia Cotten

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  26. We got a new Christmas book last year that I love - The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup. Perfect for your little boys.

    We also love Christmas I Spy, and there's a new one out this year - Can You See What I See? The Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick. SO gorgeous. It'd be perfect to keep everyone busy on Christmas day while waiting for dinner to cook :).

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  27. Santa Mouse is my favorite too!!! I still have my original one from childhood, but years ago I was able to pick up Santa Mouse and the sequel at Barnes and Noble I believe.

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  28. We have some of the same books, but you've also given me some ideas.

    I LOVE An Orange for Frankie (Patricia Polacco)...I cry every time I read it to my family.

    We also really enjoy Angela and the Baby Jesus (Frank McCourt)...touching and so funny.

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  29. We love The Polar Express. My sister is deployed with the Army but last Christmas she sent a very special surprise for our daughter at Christmas. She sent us a Christmas book called "The Soldiers' Night Before Christmas". It is not a traditional Christmas book but it has become a favorite in our house this time of year. It's a great book for anyone with family attached to the military.

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  30. The snowman books by Caralyn Buehner are darling and on each page there are 5 hidden images. My kids love them and the stories are very cute.

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  31. The snowman books by Caralyn Buehner are darling and on each page there are 5 hidden images. My kids love them and the stories are very cute.

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  32. The snowman books by Caralyn Buehner are darling and on each page there are 5 hidden images. My kids love them and the stories are very cute.

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  33. One of our favorites is "Stranger in the Woods" by Carl Sams. While I'm not sure it is truely a Christmas book we always seemed to read it a lot at Christmas time. The photographs are beautiful of animals in the woods, my boys loved it when they were young.

    Here it is on Goodreads:
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14335.Stranger_in_the_Woods

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  34. I love traditional, classic Christmas books! Check out this list (and on the sidebar)...

    http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2012/12/this-years-advent-christmas-book.html.

    I am in love with this list. It is so good! So far, I have gotten the St. Nicholas books and Angela and the baby Jesus. But there are so many more that I want to get!

    Karina

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  35. The Gift of the Traveler by Wendy Matthews is one of our favorites good for the inbetween ages. I ordered it through the schools book order. It's about christmas eve in the mountains of Romania and a mysterious traveler who leaves a special gift. Beautiful illustrations.

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  36. Our family loves Who Is Coming To Our House? by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff. They are the author and illustrator of the Miss Bindergarten series. It tells the story of the animals preparing the stable for Baby Jesus. It is a small board book with a lot of repetition so my 5 year old loves to read it to her little brother. I think Janey would enjoy it!

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  37. The Christmas Donkey is great and Little Golden books has a version of it!

    Also Tomie De Paola has some great Christmas books!!

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  38. We have all that you mentioned and then some. I hit our local thrift stores and buy them out every year - that's how we got "Santa Mouse", for example, and a very, very adorable vintage Golden Book copy of "Jingle Bells". We wrap them all up and then our youngest kids unwrap 2 every night until Christmas.

    "Merry Christmas Big, Hungry Bear" and "Bear Wakes Up for Christmas are cute. We also have "Twelve Days of Christmas" by Hillary Knight - the illustrations are so sweet. My kindergartener adores this book.

    By far, two of our favorites (as in even our big (14/12/10 year old) kids love listening are: "Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert" by Marla Frazee and "How Santa Got His Job" by Stephen Krensky.

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  39. I grew up with half of those Christmas books - thank you for posting such wonderful pictures of wonderful memories! Now I want nothing but to travel to my childhood home to read them all (because, just like me, I am certain my mother has them out on her coffee table for all of us big "kids" to read again).

    One of our 'newer' ones that she bought when I was in late middle or early high school is "The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree." (http://www.amazon.com/Year-Perfect-Christmas-Tree-Appalachian/dp/0140558772/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355165864&sr=1-5&keywords=Christmas+tree) Incredible illustrations, which is also a must for me.

    Happy reading!

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  40. I am a total sucker for a well-illustrated children's book. A few years ago I realize we had so many for Christmas that we could make it our Advent calendar. Thanksgiving weekend we wrap up all 24 books and then open one each night statting December 31st.

    There are two that I simply can't get through without sobbing. You would love them.

    Room for a Little One
    written by Martin Waddell
    and
    The Little Drummer Boy
    illustrated by Kristina Rodanas.

    I totally agree that we are curating images and memories for our little ones - I want them to think back to childhood and remember these! I also plan on keeping a set in a special place for my someday grandbabies. Stories are such a part of the fabric of my childhood, but my mother wasn't a saver, and oh how I wish I knew the titles and authors of more of my old favorites!

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  41. egads, horrified by my typing mistakes! December 1st is when we start opening books - it wouldn't make much sense to count down to Valentine's Day, lol!

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  42. We have Santa Mouse! It was mine when I was a child. My Aunt and Uncle wrote inside of it and it is dated 1982. So special to me and now to my kids! We have a tradition in our house where at the end of November I wrap up 25 Christmas books. My children get to pick and unwrap 1 book each night leading up to Christmas. Every Christmas Eve we read The Night Before Christmas and whomever is with us that evening signs the book and we date it! So fun to look back over the years!

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  43. Another vote for Jonathan Toomey. If you are picky about images, these are beautiful images! And a sweet story.

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  44. I would also vote for anything by Jan Brett. I love that you can use them to teach your kids about predicting because each page gives you a clue about the next page (those these aren't necessarily Christmas - just winter). I also love Bear Stays Up for Christmas. It is a nice repeater book so my 2 year old loves that he knows the pattern. The illustrations to all the books in this series are beautiful too.

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  45. I just looked at amazon.com and Jesus' Christmas Party is $55 over there! I am posting from England and it only £1.50 over here... I wish I could send you a copy... :-(

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  46. There is a wonderful story book about a girl and her doll called "The Story of Holly and Ivy."
    I was fixated with it as a girl :)

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  47. I just bought a copy of "Mortimer's Christmas Manger" for the kids this year and love the story and illustrations. I'll have to check out Santa Mouse:) Love your blog...thanks for all of your honesty, opinions and suggestions...and for all the work you do to make it possible!

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  48. You will LOVE this book:

    The Light of Christmas
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0689834683/ref=oh_details_o02_s01_i00
    GORGEOUS Illustrations - beautiful message!!
    Go to Shower of Roses blog - you will be over whelmed with beautiful book choices!!

    http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2011/11/preparing-for-advent-book-baskets.html

    One more:
    Humphrey's First Christmas
    - it is funny, beautiful pics, and HOLY - all in one book!
    http://www.amazon.com/Humphreys-Christmas-Religion-Beliefs-General/dp/0824956168/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355197050&sr=1-1&keywords=humphrey%27s+first+christmas

    One more but I have a thing for Russian culture:
    The Miraculous Child a Christmas folktale from old Russia
    Very orthodox and beautiful message

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1888212209/ref=oh_details_o01_s01_i00

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  49. The donkeys dream
    http://www.amazon.com/Donkeys-Dream-Barbara-Helen-Berger/dp/0399212337

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  50. I love children's Christmas books. When my kids were little their favorites were The Animal's Christmas Eve and Noel both of which are Little Golden Books. Another favorite was Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff. And they especially love "The Christmas Story" advent calendar/board books/ornaments.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Story-Christmas-Mary-Packard/dp/0761152504/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1355329711&sr=8-3&keywords=advent+calendar%2Fornament

    I'll being buying that one for their children once they start having them.

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  51. Santa Mouse was one of my childhood favorites, too. Other books I would recommend:
    Take Joy, the Tasha Tudor Christmas book
    The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry
    The Nativity by Francesca Crespi
    The Christmas Book, s Golden Shape Book
    Little Drummer Boy, Ezra Jack Keats
    Sleepy Jesus (board book)
    the Story of Holly and Ivy

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  52. I didn't read all of the comments, but there is one more I'd like to add, "The Last Straw" by Thury.

    http://www.amazon.com/Last-Straw-Fredrick-H-Thury/dp/0881063606/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355359551&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+straw

    Beautiful story about humility, but also my favorite to have my husband read to the kids. He does a great cranky camel voice.

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  53. oh I could've used this a week or so ago because I was picking out books to send to my nieces. They have just about every electronic toy in the world and I wanted to get them a "simple book" to off set all the electronic noise. It's the reader in me coming out whenever I get them a gift, I swear by that.

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  54. I totally forgot all about "Peef - the Christmas Bear" by Tom Hegg. My daughter was horrified that I left if off the list. She's 17 and I still have to take it out from the library every year so that she can now read it to the dayhome kids. I really need to order her her very own copy!

    http://www.amazon.com/Peef-Christmas-Bear/dp/0931674263/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355430814&sr=1-1&keywords=peef+the+christmas+bear

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  55. For the past few years I give my close friends a favorite family Christmas book- I always start with "A Christmas Dress for Ellen", I believe it's based on a true story, beautiful illustrations. Now- I love to give "The Mansion" by Henry Van Dyke- the 100th anniversary edition is a must- unabridged and abridged version in it for families and again beautiful illustrations. Merry Christmas!

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  56. I seem to be always trying to balance my kids from the worldly views of Christmas with the real reason. So I have become so picky on which books I want to have available. My all time favorite is The Tale of the Three Trees, by Angela E. Hunt. It also doubles as an Easter book.
    I also love Santa's Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas, by Hisako Aoki.

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  57. We just read Toot and Puddle's I'll Be Home For Christmas today by Hollie Hobbie...so cute!

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  58. we love the new Mr. willowby's christmas tree book too. i wrote about our advent book tradition with some of our family's favorites here: http://abowlfullofsimple.com/our-top-10-childrens-holiday-books/

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  59. Found Frosty the Snowman golden book at Goodwill for $1 and read it to the children for the 1st time last night...wishing you the same good fortune!

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