One of my favorite things about unpacking the Christmas box each year is gathering the holiday picture books and enjoying them again. I grew up listening to the same Christmas books read aloud each year, savoring the illustrations and well-remembered words.
The Little Golden Book Christmas Story. The Night Before Christmas. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Claus. How The Grinch Stole Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Littlest Angel. A Christmas Carol.
Just seeing the titles in print brings to mind perfect images of the covers and pages. These books were essential to my family’s Christmas traditions. Now that I’m married, Sam and I have our own tiny collection of holiday books, which grows by a book or two a year (guess who’s fault that is?). I saw a great pin on Pinterest the other day–wrapping 24 picture books, and opening one a night as a book-themed advent calendar. Now, how cool is that? Right now there are 12 books in our collection… only 12 to go by the time we have children. I think I can handle that!
Here are the books in our current collection:
(Last year, I wrote about most of those books in my Christmas Reading post. If I’ve blogged about the book before, I’ll link the title to that post.)
- The Christmas Magic, written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jon J. Muth
- Santa Calls, written and illustrated by William Joyce
- What-a-Mess and the Cat-Next-Door, written by Frank Muir and illustrated by Joseph Wright
- Christmas in July, written by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by Richard Egielski
- Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner?, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
- A Family Christmas, selected by Caroline Kennedy
- Big Susan, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones
- The Jolly Christmas Postman, written and illustrated by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
- The Friendly Beasts, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
- The Christmas Cat, written by Efner Tudor Holmes and illustrated by Tasha Tudor
- A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor, written by Truman Capote
- The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, written by Madeleine L’Engle and illustrated by Carl Cassler
This year, I’d like to highlight the new additions:
Christmas in July, written by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by Richard Egielski
I found this book in quite a round-about way: when Emily commented on my NPBM Space post with a great picture book about space (Company’s Coming, written by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by David Small), I looked it up on Paperbackswap.com to see if I could get a copy; it wasn’t available, but a few clicks later I found this book by the same author, and with Christmas coming up it wasn’t hard to convince me to order it! The story is really cute and clever–Santa’s pants get mixed up with another’s at the dry cleaner, and during his search for his pants, Santa gets thrown in jail for causing a public disturbance! Christmas is ruined, or course, until Santa is reunited with his pants… in July! Silly and fun, with boisterous illustrations.
Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner?, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Every family is full of dysfunctional fun, including Santa’s! Everyone is invited over–including the complaining kids, arguing brothers, operatic aunt, and more! Family dynamics at their best, with dePaola’s signature illustrations. Another find through Paperbackswap.com!
Big Susan, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Sam gave me this book for Christmas last year, which definitely fulfills all of my qualifications for a satisfying nostalgic read. Dolls that come to life on Christmas Eve, interacting with kindly creator Big Susan, and Christmas morning surprises. Plus beautiful drawn illustrations.
The Jolly Christmas Postman, written and illustrated by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Another gift from Sam last year (he knows what I like!). I have the well-worn original Jolly Postman in my regular children’s book collection, and I was delighted with this new version! The same great storybook characters, with new letters and cards and games to explore in the envelopes on each page.
The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, written by Madeleine L’Engle and illustrated by Carl Cassler
Another PBS find. I’ve been on quite a L’Engle kick lately, and I jumped on this as soon as I found it! I wish it was the hardback edition, and I like it enough that I might re-buy it in a few years. This story is a prequel to the Austin Chronicles, with Vicky, only seven years old, as the narrator. The Austin family does a special Christmas activity each of the twenty-four days leading up to the 25th, but this year is different because Mother is expecting a baby to come at any time. Really sweet, and such a realistic depiction of family life, like always–conflicting emotions, interesting characters, parents who don’t talk down to their children or coddle them. Love L’engle, always!
What books are in your Christmas collection?