I’ve spent the past month reading picture books about Christmas. There’s no shortage of them, that’s for sure. Some will make you laugh, while others pull on your heartstrings. Choosing just a few to share with you wasn’t easy, but these favorites present the timeless quality of Christmas traditions. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to start a new tradition or to revive an old one. Enjoy the season!
“Bear Stays Up for Christmas” written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman (Copyright 2004, Margaret K. McElderry Books division of Simon & Schuster) is one of several books by this talented duo that feature Bear and his friends. On Christmas Eve, Bear is awakened by his friends, who have all gathered to help him stay up until Christmas. Together with Bear, they find a tree, bake, decorate, sing, and hang stockings. When Bear is finally wide awake, his friends nod off to sleep. He busily prepares for Christmas morning, staying awake to share his surprise with them. Told in rhyming verse and complemented by expressive acrylic paint illustrations, this is a fun holiday read-aloud story to share with little ones.
“Winter’s Gift” written and illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan (Copyright 2004, Sleeping Bear Press division of Thomson Gale) is the story of an elderly farmer facing his first Christmas without his wife, who had died that spring. On a snowy Christmas Eve, he finds himself remembering Christmas traditions that the two of them had shared and considers the hope he once found in those traditions, such as the star on top of the tree, to be lost. That evening, he discovers a collapsed mare in the snow. Leading her to his barn, he falls asleep while watching over her during the night. Waking up on Christmas morning, he discovers that the mare has given birth to a foal with a white star in the center of its forehead–reminding him of the Christmas star that he and his wife had always placed on top of their Christmas tree. Exquisite illustrations give readers a front row seat into this precious story.
“Mousekin’s Christmas Eve” written and illustrated by Edna Miller (Copyright 1965, Simon and Schuster) is the vintage story of a mouse who finds himself alone in an empty house on Christmas Eve and decides to find a new home. As he makes his way through the snow and danger that surround him outside, he is drawn to a house by the sounds of laughter and music and the colorful Christmas tree lights that shine out the window and into the snow. Waiting until the family goes to bed for the night, he finds an opening into the house. After exploring the Christmas tree, he settles in to safely sleep among the peace and quiet of the nativity set. If you’ve never read any of Edna Miller’s beautifully illustrated “Mousekin” books, I encourage you to enjoy them while they can still be found.
“The Night Before the Night Before Christmas” written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Mike Lester (Copyright 2002, Grosset & Dunlap division of Penguin Young Readers) is one of many in “The Night Before” series of picture books. Rhyming text pairs perfectly with comedic illustrations to present a funny look at how one busy family’s Christmas traditions turn to chaos when Mom has the flu. In the family’s rush to get everything done, they finally come to realize that “…things are just stuff. Christmas is about love, and we have quite enough.”