We have a book obsession in our house. I might complain that there are too many movies or board games or crayons or doll pieces, but I never say there are too many books. When the girls helped me decorate this year, I lost my elves the moment I unpacked all the Christmas books. Next thing I knew Annabelle was spelling out the big words in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and asking how to say them, while Madelynne had curled up on her bed with a stack of illustrated classics. So here’s a top 10 list of our favorites, hopefully maybe it will inspire you to read something new this season.
1. To Whom the Angel Spoke by Terry Kay
This retelling of the coming of the Christ child is vivid and striking, but like all of Kay’s works, reminds us of how special the simple truly is. To whom did the angel speak? To shepherds, the most unlikely accompaniments to a holy birth, but who were these men, really?
2. The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn
I love history, especially when it is as easy to read as a well-loved novel. Guinn gives the best of both fact and fiction in this recounting of how humble Nicholas became Santa Claus. There are 24 chapters you can read together as a family in the days leading up to Christmas, or if your children are still as young as mine, you can just curl up with a snowman mug of hot chocolate and enjoy a break from all the bustle.
3. Christmas on Jane Street by Billy Romp
My cousin bought this for me and had it autographed by Billy Romp himself when she lived in NYC several years ago. This sweet story has become a favorite of mine when I need to slow the season down and remember what’s most important. Now as my daughters age, I can identify even more with Romp’s feeling that he is losing his little girl to a life that’s different than the one he’s always given her. Actually, I think I’m going to read this aloud with the girls next week.
4. Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Dick Schneider
One of our favorite picture books, this traditional story explains why I’m always turning the Christmas tree to hide the inevitable hole on one side, though after reading it again tonight, I think I might need to remember instead that, like my six year old says, “No one but Jesus is perfect.”
5. You Are My Miracle by Maryann K. Cusimano
I bought this at a clearance book sale for Madelynne one Christmas, but I didn’t realize until I read it to her just how beautiful the story really is. “I am your quiet place, you are my wild…I am your decorate, you are my tangled lights.”
6. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
This is another story I didn’t truly appreciate until I read it aloud with my girls last year. Madelynne loves it, I think because in the story, the mama bear takes her oldest child on an adventure to find God, leaving the babies behind with Papa. She explains to her little one that while they can’t find Santa, they can find God all over their little world.
7. The Night Before Christmas: A Pop-up by Robert Sabuda
Clement Moore’s wonderful narrative poem gets a fresh look with this pop up origami book. If you children like stories that come to life, they will love this book. The reindeer fly out, Santa slides down the chimney, and of course, there’s the sleigh flying out of sight.
8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Christmas never feels complete without this story (and its cartoon). We saw the cutest stage version the other night at the local community center. The girls were the opening act with their dance class, but they were followed by one sweet Cindy Lou.
9. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Confession: I didn’t love the film. Somehow the innocence and wonder that I have always found in this story and its illustrations seemed lost. So instead, we return to the book every year to bring a little magic to Christmas Eve bedtime.
10. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
If the last time you read this story was 9th grade English Lit, you need to read it again. It’s theme of sacrificial love has never grown old. I’ve always wanted to give Joshua a gift as thoughtful as the one Della gave Jim, but I don’t think that’s a lesson I’ve learned quite yet.
What Christmas stories would make your list?