Sharing a story with family can calm the holiday craziness. These books feature familiar authors, known characters, plus a few new titles to enjoy season after season.
In Deborah Underwood’s “The Christmas Quiet Book” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ages 4-7), soft illustrations capture many Christmas moods – from indoors (“searching for presents quiet” and “getting caught quiet”) to outdoors (“snow angel quiet” and “knocking with mittens quiet”). Whether festivity, foible or tradition, each small moment is beautifully expressed.
Two well-known authors tell of the first Christmas. Tomie de Paola’s “The Birds of Bethlehem” (Penguin, ages 3-5) has expansive page spreads, bold images and multicolored birds. The woodcuts and rhymes in Ashley Bryan’s “Who Built The Stable: A Nativity Poem” (Atheneum, ages 2-4) feature a little shepherd apprenticed as a carpenter.
Crackle finishes and cozy illustrations in Alison Jay’s “Christmastime” (Dial, ages 2-6) present symbols from mistletoe to the Christmas tree. Her pictures reveal the story of two young children journeying to the North Pole, and images hint at 16 familiar carols.
Sandra Boynton’s “Christmas Parade” (Little Simon, ages 2-4) begins as a pig with perked ears wonders, “What’s that noise filling the room?” Then comes a parade that introduces animals, instruments and fun.
Leslie Patricelli’s diaper-clad baby appears in “FaLaLa” (Candlewick, ages 1-3). Humor and holiday spirit abound as the toddler tries to be patient (and tries everyone’s patience) waiting for the magical day.
In Eric Litwin’s “Pete the Cat Saves Christmas” (Harper, ages 3-5), Pete subs for a sick Santa because “at Christmas we give, so I’ll give it my all.” Pete surmounts all troubles cheerfully with a repeatable refrain about giving.
Two sets of traditions are celebrated in Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s “How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?” and “How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?” (both from Scholastic, 2012, ages 3-6).
In “Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama” (Knopf, ages 4-6), by Selina Alko, a small child savors the mix of traditions as her family leaves latkes on the mantle with milk for Santa, stuffs the turkey with cranberry kugel dressing and blends a wealth of other traditions.
Rob Sander’s “Cowboy Christmas” (Golden Books, ages 4-6) finds the Western characters full of complaints – no stockings, presents or Santa. They lasso a cactus, bake charred sugar-molasses-bean cookies until, finally, Santa rescues them with a surprise visit.
Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw’s “Just Right for Christmas” (Candlewick, ages 4-7) begins as a King who sees cloth that “is so red and soft and Christmassy,” buys it and has the seamstress “snip and sew” to make his daughter a cloak. The seamstress leaves scraps where they’re found by a maid who “snips and sews” them into a jacket for her mother. The chain of giving continues until even small animals use bits of cloth for presents. The shrinking cloth shows the warmth of both presents and giving.