During the rush of holiday festivities, make sure you take a few minutes every day to enjoy some quiet time with your kids. In addition to being great gifts, books are a terrific way to share special moments and build seasonal traditions. Here are some great new books as well as some family favorites that offer a fabulous reason to snuggle under a cozy blanket with your little ones. Happy Holidays!!
New & Noteworthy
Duck & Goose: It’s Time for Christmas!
Written/Illustrated by Tad Hills; Schwartz & Wade, $6.99, ages 0-4
A charming holiday board book featuring the popular duo Duck and Goose. Duck is getting ready for Christmas, but Goose is outside in the snow making snow angels, sledding and throwing snowballs. While Duck reminds him that it’s not the time for playing, the surprise for Goose is that it’s really time for Christmas! This is a very sweet book that the 0-2 set will love hearing over and over again, and it reminds us of the many joys of the holiday season, which can include taking time to play in the snow.
Jeannette Claus Saves Christmas
By Douglas Rees, Illustrated by Olivier Latyk; McElderry Books, $16.99, ages 5-8
Who knew Santa had a daughter? Well, apparently he does and her name is Jeannette. When “dad” comes down with a terrible cold, she loads up the sleigh and takes the reigns, literally! However, the reindeer are harder to manage than they look and fly away from her. Jeannette comes up with a “dog-gone” good solution and delivers toys to all boys and girls in the nick of time. Lots of great laughs make this “non-traditional” holiday book fun to read for all ages.
Adapted by Kama Einhorn, Illustrated by Jared Osterhold; Simon Spotlight, $16.99, ages 3-6
Olivia, that precocious pig, is getting ready for Santa’s arrival when she realizes that she’s lost her beloved stuffed monkey, Mathilda. After an exhaustive search yields no Mathilda, Olivia wakes on Christmas morning with little enthusiasm for her presents. Her wish is that Santa would return Mathilda and everyone’s lost things. It turns out that the family dog stole Mathilda, among other missing items, and all is right once again. While much of the holidays are about presents and new things, it’s nice to read a children’s book that’s about appreciating what you already have. Plus, this is a nice story whether or not you are a fan of Olivia, the TV show or DVDs.
The Christmas Sweater
By Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe and Jason Wright, Illustrated by Brandon Dorman; Aladdin, $17.99, ages 4-7
Adapted from the adult bestseller, this picture book tells the heartwarming tale of a young boy who realizes the true meaning of Christmas. Young Eddie dreams of a shiny new bike, but his grandfather, who looks a lot like Santa Claus, breaks the news that he won’t be getting one. Much to Eddie’s chagrin, Grandpa tells him about a special hand-made “Christmas sweater” that he will receive instead. While Grandpa explains that gifts hand made with love are magical, Eddie drifts off into a fantasy in which he’s wearing the sweater. He imagines that he’s sledding with his father, making a fancy gingerbread house with his mother, and soaring on a sleigh pulled by reindeer with Grandpa. When he snaps out of it, he realizes that he was dreaming. He runs downstairs on Christmas morning and finds a bike under the tree, but declares what he really wants is the sweater. Though Glenn Beck is a controversial personality, his story is one that makes everyone pause for a moment to think. And, the illustrations and twist with Grandpa at the end are reminiscent of the magic of The Polar Express.
The Twelve Days of Christmas in South Carolina
By Melinda Long, Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss; Sterling, $12.95, ages 5 & up
This is a book in a fun series that wraps the traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” song around local traditions in each U.S. state. Young Laura goes to visit her cousin in South Carolina for the holiday break. Through their outings, we learn about regional highlights from food to landmarks and odd holiday traditions — people actually wear Christmas lights! It’s fun to sing these silly verses to the traditional melody while learning about how Americans celebrate in other parts of the country. This one would make a fun gift and we look forward to reading about other states too.
From the Bookshelf
K is for Kwanzaa: A Kwanzaa Alphabet Book
By Juwanda G. Ford, Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max; Cartwheel Books, $5.99, ages 4-8
Kwanzaa is a secular holiday that’s only been celebrated for about 45 years, but it offers a rich lesson about African culture and customs. In very easy-to-understand text, we learn the individual meanings of the seven days of Kwanzaa. Through an A to Z format and colorful illustrations, kids find out about traditions, symbols, food, games and other elements of the celebration and African heritage. The phonetic spellings next to each Swahili word makes the vocabulary fun and easy to say aloud together. Kwanzaa is a dynamic celebration and kids love to learn about other cultures. They may even want to make their own shakere (shaker instrument) or put on a lapa (wrap-skirt) and dashiki (loose fitting shirt) for the celebratory karamu (feast).
Olive, the Other Reindeer
By J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh; Chronicle, $15.99, ages 4-8
In this modern holiday classic, Olive the dog believes that she’s a reindeer after hearing the song “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.” (You’ll see why if you sing the song to hear a fun play on words.) She heads to the North Pole to join Santa’s team and although he knows Olive is a dog, Santa decides to give her a chance. They run into quite a bit of trouble, but Olive helps to keep the team on track and get all the presents delivered. All ages will laugh when reading this book year after year.
The Three Bears’ Christmas
By Kathy Duval, Illustrated by Paul Meisel; Holiday House, $6.95, ages 4-8
Santa takes the place of Goldilocks in this version of the classic children’s tale. Mama, Papa and Baby Bear head out for an evening stroll after decorating the tree on Christmas Eve. Upon returning to the house, they notice the nibbled-on gingerbread cookies, a broken chair, someone’s red hat, boots and coat, among other telltale signs that a visitor was in the house. When hearing sleigh bells ring, the bears run downstairs to see what’s happening and find presents under the tree and Santa flying away into the night. This book is a sweet, quick read and one that kids even younger than the publisher’s recommended age would enjoy.