Christmas Tips & Fun

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The Best 16 Christmas Books for Children (and Adults)

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n trying to come up with a sort of definitive answer to this questions we discovered there isn’t any definitive answer, and not much consensus either. Opinions vary by generation, era and whether the compiler is connected to the publisher or retailer of many of the books on their list.

Given all that...

There’s the original, as told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, particularly in the familiar lyricism of the King James Version.

On a slightly more secular note, we’d start off with The Night Before Christmas, of course. There’s an enormous range of illustrators but our favorites are Jan Brett and Mary Engelbreit (and you could do worse than have both).

Depending on the age of the child or children to be read to, The Sweet Smell of Christmas would be a great choice for little ones because it’s not only a "scratch and sniff" book but it’s also a good story.

A nice way to start a tradition would be found in Michael Brown’s Santa Mouse.

Dream Snow by Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is another good one for little kids and the people who get to read to them.

Even though they may have seen either the animated or the "real" version, reading the book is still the best. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

Another book-turned-movie – and a good one at that – is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

Don’t read this one if the kids have fallen in love with Santa Mouse – but it is by Margaret Wise Brown, whose Goodnight Moon has put countless kiddos to sleep. A Pussycat’s Christmas is, obviously, told from a feline perspective.

If you want a moral or two, there’s always The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving.

Back to a combination of nostalgia and just plain old, there’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Created by adman Robert L. May just before WWII as a Christmas promotion from Montgomery Ward, the version with David Wenzel's illustrations harkens back to Hermie and the TV movie.

For everyone who wishes they actually lived in Busy Town and knew Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm personally, there’s Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Book Ever – and they’re in it.

Back to that wonderful illustrator and nice person Mary Engelbreit. She also has a Christmas book called Mary Engelbreit’s A Merry Little Christmas. We’re sure there’s a chair of bowlies in there somewhere.

For elephant fans everywhere, Babar and Father Christmas by Jean de Brunhoff should delight everyone.

Two more recent favorites for kids are Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer where she really tries to be helpful, really, and Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. This is a great recycling tale as Mr. W’s tree top ends up sort of like a set of Russian dolls in reverse. Trust us, that will make more sense when you read the book – and the kids you read it to will most likely be way ahead of you.

Finally, there are two grown-up classics by grown-up authors: A Christmas Memory from Truman Capote, and A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.

Written by Dianne Weller
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