There’s no topping the sense of excitement that comes with the countdown to Christmas. And there’s no better way to celebrate the season than snuggling up with a holiday story. Surprise the little reader in your life with one of the delightful books featured below, and let the countdown begin!
SANTA AT THE FARM
Duck and the rest of the barnyard rascals get caught in a Christmas jam in Doreen Cronin’s hilarious Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!. Spruced up for Christmas Eve with a sprig of holly in his hat, Farmer Brown is hanging stockings by the fire. All is merry, bright and quiet, until he hears noises on the roof. Must be Santa, right? Wrong! It’s Duck, stirring up Christmas mischief. He’s hoping to deliver a gift to Farmer Brown in the style of Saint Nick. But upon seeing Santa in the sky, Duck dives into the chimney and gets stuck. Sheep, goats, cat and cows come to the rescue, but they get trapped, too. Luckily, Santa’s on hand to set them free, and soon they’re making merry around Farmer Brown’s tree. Betsy Lewin brings the Christmas revelry to life in spirited watercolor illustrations. As usual, Duck and friends deliver big fun.
REUNITED FOR THE HOLIDAYS
With Over the River & Through the Wood, Linda Ashman offers an inspired update of Lydia Maria Child’s beloved 1844 poem. In this contemporary take on the classic, a group of widespread relatives—all very different—reunite for a seasonal celebration. Summoned by Grandma and Grandpa (“Come to our house for the holidays—and bring your favorite pie!”), the family members make the journey from various corners of the country by train, car, plane and ferry. When unexpected obstacles delay the travelers, a surprise sleigh ride saves the day. Brimming with holiday cheer, Ashman’s festive tale pays tribute to the modern family in all its varied configurations, and Kim Smith’s dynamic digital illustrations make this a holiday journey worth taking.
GIFT-GIVING AT ITS BEST
In David Biedrzycki’s Me and My Dragon: Christmas Spirit, the boy-and-beast team are preparing for the holidays. Lacking the funds to buy Christmas gifts, they take on odd (very, very odd) jobs for cash. Dragon’s fire-breathing abilities prove lucrative: He broils up menu items at the Burger Barn and toasts marshmallows, which his enterprising little partner sells for 50 cents. But when it’s time to go shopping, the boy has a change of heart, and he donates his money to a worthy cause. As for Dragon, he contributes homemade cookies (although his baking skills are questionable). Biedrzycki’s clever digital illustrations are crammed with Christmas goodness—snowy sidewalks, costumed carolers and two happy friends.
Filled with holiday witticisms, The Knights Before Christmas is a clever send-up of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Joan Holub’s playful adaptation features three bumbling noblemen—Brave Knight, Silent Knight and Polite Knight—who are guarding the king’s castle on Christmas Eve. Peace reigns, but not for long: A clatter on the drawbridge signals the arrival of Santa. Mistaking the jolly old elf for an invader, the knights set out to repel him, swords drawn and flourished. But Santa has gifts that he’s determined to deliver, and he launches a special attack on the castle—with sugarplums and chewing gum. Packed with Christmas wisecracks and colorful digital illustrations by Scott Magoon, this is a very merry olde Yuletide tale.
“Sesame Street” alum Sonia Manzano tells a big-city Christmas story in Miracle on 133rd Street. In their cramped apartment, José and his parents celebrate the holidays, although they pine for their native Puerto Rico. When Mami discovers the stove’s too small for her roast, José has a solution: cook the roast at the neighborhood pizzeria. As José and Papi embark on this tasty mission, they encounter cranky grownups and quarreling kids, none of whom seem happy about the holidays. But on their return trip, a bit of Christmas enchantment occurs, and the tempting aroma of the cooked roast works like magic. Marjorie Priceman’s whimsical illustrations, with swirling eddies of color, are perfect for this tale that will make readers believe in the power of Christmas.
CLASSIC COME TO LIFE
No Christmas would be complete without a few rounds of “Jingle Bells,” the timeless sleigh-ride tune composed by James Lord Pierpont in 1857. In Jingle Bells: A Magical Cut-Paper Edition, artist Niroot Putta-pipat brings the holiday gem to vivid life through precise cut- paper montages. A pair of sweethearts—shown in dramatic, dark silhouette against a snow-filled backdrop—takes off on a sleigh ride through a 19th-century winter wonderland. Song lyrics run along the bottom of each spread, and at the end of the ride, there’s a pop-up surprise the little ones will love. A sing-along is definitely in order!