While I've come to rely more and more on the library for books for the kids most of the year--it keeps up with their changing interests much better--for holiday books, it's pretty useless. Everyone else always wants the same books all at the same time.
So, year by year, I add a book or two, and we're finally starting to build up a little Christmas library of our own. Here are some of our favorites!
For the Kids:
Our Christmas Tree. While we are quickly growing out of the age of board books, this one is still a frequent request from Little Miss. The book has "touch and feel" elements--a rough christmas tree, a shiny star--and the words are meant to go with the tune "Oh Christmas Tree".
Frosty the Snowman. The kids love the Rankin and Bass "Frosty", but, I'll confess, I get a little tired of him by the time the holidays are getting on a bit. Illustrated with a more classic, generic Frosty, this book (which is also a board book) is a nice break.
Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker. Little Miss loves the "Ella Bella" series, which tells the stories of classic ballets through the eyes of a small ballet student named Ella. While we have a more traditional version of "The Nutcracker" as well, this beautifully illustrated version is always the one we reach for.
An Otis Christmas. The "Otis the Tractor" books are another series we really like, with its endearing "putt puff puttedy chuffs". And the "Otis" Christmas story involves a trek through the snow and a magical midnight birth--who can pass that up?
How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? I got this one this year as a continuation of our "Dinovember" festivities. It amuses me (and the kids), because--unlike our dinosaurs--the dinos in the book are adorably sweet and helpful.
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. OK, so there is sort of an annoying song in this one, but the rest of it is, in "Pete" parlance, "totally groovy". Spoiler: When Santa gets sick, Pete saves Christmas in a Volkswagon bus.
The Polar Express. I know, everyone knows about this one, but I can't leave it off. If you can read the opening words, "On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed...." without having a magical hush go over you and yours....I just don't know.
The Christmas Story. This is the "Little Golden Book" version of the Christmas story. It's simple and straightforward and has beautiful illustrations.
The Mitten. While the Jan Brett version of "The Mitten" is more well known, I like this more sparsely illustrated version. It feels very vintage, and the story itself is more about cooperation and generosity than the Jan Brett version is.
Holly and Ivy. This story about a girl and her Christmas doll was one of my favorites as a child. It's very wordy for younger kids, though. The Kid can sit through it, but I have to do lots of skim reading with Little Miss. Still, they both love it.
The Tomten. This is another one that's hard for me to describe with any other word but "magical". "Here is a lonely old farm where everyone is sleeping. All but one...." the little Tomten, who goes from creature to creature, looking over the farm and ensuring that all is well.
The Night Before Christmas. Despite my comments about "The Mitten" above, we do have the Jan Brett version of "The Night Before Christmas" and, in this instance, I think that her rich illustrations fit the poem perfectly.
The Lump of Coal and The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming. These are two of the three Lemony Snicket Christmas books. (The other "Baby in the Manger" is almost impossible to find.) They're hilarious, but they both wrap up with a warm Christmas message that feels all the more poignant for the chuckles you have while you're getting to it.
For the Grown-ups:
The Return of the Light. This is a series of folktales from around the world about the solstice. I re-read it every year, and I particularly love the version of La Befana at the very end.
Christmas with Anne. This is a collected volume of short Christmas stories by L.M. Montgomery. A few of them will be familiar if you've read the "Anne" books (the chapter where Matthew gets Anne the Christmas dress with puffed sleeves makes an appearance), but most of it is new and in the cheerful flavor of "Anne".
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. I shouldn't be recommending this one, because I haven't read it yet. I found it at an old bookshop, and decided it would be my addition to our Christmas library for me. I'll have to report on it properly next year, but for now I'll say that it looks like it will be charming.
Do you have any beloved books that didn't make my list? Let me know in the comments!