Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, neither, or both, there’s no better gift for kids than the gift of reading. If you don’t need a fourth copy of the Velveteen Rabbit to make you cry on your toddler’s footy pajamas, try one of these awesomely cool holiday books which get my whole-hearted thumbs up. – Delilah
1. A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates
If your family is as wacky as mine, you want more YARR than the calm and old-fashioned versions of the classic holiday poem can provide. This book’s got laughs, clever rhymes, and adorable illustrations for a rollicking and piratical good time.
2. Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
The modishly cool illustrations by J. Otto Seibold have become a TV special, CD, and Valentine’s book, but this is the story that started them all. Follow a spunky dog all the way to the North Pole, where she saves Christmas.
3. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
Much like a preschooler on my list, Llama Llama doesn’t want to wait for the holidays. Luckily, his mama is there with hugs, kisses, and fun rhymes. I’m a big fan of llamas, and I love the expressive paintings.
4. Yes, Virginia: There Is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal
A little girl wrote a letter in 1897 asking if Santa Claus really existed. The answer, beginning with, “Yes, Virginia,” has become part of holiday lore and popular culture. Find out why as you enjoy hip, Etsy-type artwork that brings the past to life.
5. Maccabee! The Story of Hanukkah by Tilda Balsey
If you want to get through to little boys, try this comic-book style, action-packed retelling of Hanukkah. Probably best for ages 4-8.
6. My Two Holidays: A Hanukkah and Christmas Story by Danielle Novack
This story of a boy with a Christian father and Jewish mother is a nice choice for interfaith families. Written by a child psychologist, it has received great reviews.
7. Silent Night by Julie Groom, illustrated by Tim Warnes
A mother bear and her cub explore the natural beauty of the winter world through lush illustrations and verse. This one got a starred review from Kirkus, but the paintings are what sold me.
8. The Night Before Christmas by Peter, Paul, and Mary
The classic poem by Clement C. Moore gets colorful new illustrations by renowned painter Eric Puybaret, plus a 3-track CD with narration and musical performances. The gorgeous illustration on the cover includes spiffy top hats and bowlers on the reindeer, which makes me ridiculously happy.
9. It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon
Little ones struggle to be good at Christmas. Compared to David’s shenanigans, your kids will feel like angels. David is truly naughty, and this book can give your kids new ideas for troublemaking. I guess it depends whether your family considers writing your name in the snow with pee to be vulgar, or a great show of literacy and creativity.
10. Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Book Ever! by Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry is at it again, bringing stories, songs, and games to yet another generation of kids with his well-loved characters and bright, cheerful illustrations. The guy’s sold over 200 million books, so he’s definitely onto something special.
11. I Spy a Christmas Tree by Jean Marzollo
Much like cold hot dogs, the I Spy books don’t do much for me, but my kids go crazy for them. Little ones will enjoy hunting through sparkling holiday photos in relative quiet. Right?
12. Duck & Goose, It’s Time for Christmas by Tad Hills
I’m a fan of Duck & Goose, thanks to the bright and simple paintings by author/illustrator Tad Hills. This one has their usual playful bickering, not to mention glitter on the cover of a highly chewable board book. Time to introduce my baby to some family favorites!
All these holiday books for kids are available from our affiliate, Amazon.
We’d love to hear your favorite books, too!