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Christmas Books for Reading Aloud, Family Traditions & Gift Giving

Laowai in the Central Kingdom
The list author says: "Christmas is not only "a time of lavish spending & entertaining, but also brings with it a flood of images & customs that epitomize what happiness with family & friends should look like." Browse and compare some Christmas anthologies on this list with gorgeous illustrations, classic poetry and lore for the entire family. These list items are especially recommended for bedtime reading in the nights before the grand holiday, but selections of poetry would be great to read aloud before the big holiday meal. "It's the time of year when poetry is actually heard in public, thanks to the resolutely secular works of Clement Clarke Moore ("'Twas the night before Christmas" -included in every anthology plus I list 4 gorgeous picture books of the story here) & Dr. Seuss (The Grinch)." Explore the origins of this most sacred AND secular of holidays and discover traditions from around the world to both expand cultural awareness and also to get ideas for adding to your own family's traditions. These are books that capture the Christmas spirit and may become family favorites, year after year. Any of these books would make a great Christmas gift. Merry Christmas!"
'T was the Night Before Christmas and Other Seasonal Favorites (Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications)
'T was the Night Before Christmas and Other Seasonal Favorites (Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications)
"2003 Traditional Christmas verse brought to new life by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's vast collection. A medieval stained glass window, Arthur Rackham's familiar watercolors, Romare Bearden's collage, readings by Walter de la Mare, Eleanor Farjeon, Langston Hughes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, e.e. cummings, Edgar Allen Poe, & Clement C. Moore. Ages 9 - 12, 48 pages ISBN: 0810945924"
The Little Big Book of Christmas
The Little Big Book of Christmas
"2011 A definitive anthology that has been out of print, now updated & lavishly illustrated w. 19th- & 20th-century artwork —stuffed w. stories, carols, biblical verse, recipes, history & lore: · Shakespeare, Milton, Frost, Ogden Nash, W. H. Auden, L. Carroll. · L.M. Alcott, Hans Christian Andersen, Dickens, O. Henry, L. Hughes, N. V. Peale, L. Steffens, S. Lagerlof. ISBN: 1599621002"
The World Encyclopedia of Christmas
The World Encyclopedia of Christmas
"Meticulously researched & often funny with more than 1,000 entries on worldwide secular & religious Christmas practices blend the ancient & the modern. Songs, literature, events, film, & the arts.  Notable among the entries are Quotes about Christmas; a chronology of December 25 events; & entries giving the histories as well as the words of individual songs and carols. ISBN: 0771015356"
When Santa Was A Shaman: Ancient Origins of Santa Claus & the Christmas Tree
When Santa Was A Shaman: Ancient Origins of Santa Claus & the Christmas Tree
"Explores the origins of Santa Claus, going back to prehistoric times and man's earliest concepts of religion. It analyzes how ancient myths from countries as diverse as Britain, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain and Africa were adapted, sanitized and commercialized in modern times by America. ISBN: 156718765X"
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Christmas Collection
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Christmas Collection
"Stuffed like a Christmas goose with fun facts like where St. Nicholas’s fingers are on display (Antalya, Turkey). Tales of rampaging Santas, the myth of “No assembly required,” Christmas disasters, & lutefisk. Articles include Christmas World Records, Keeping Your Christmas Politically Correct, & Celebrity Christmas Present Wish List. ISBN: 1592234844"
Inventing Christmas: How Our Holiday Came to Be
Inventing Christmas: How Our Holiday Came to Be
"2002 A beautiful book with gorgeous colored photos tells the tale of how this most dual-sacred & secular-of human festivals came into being not only as a time of lavish spending & entertaining, but also bringing with it a flood of images & customs that epitomizes what happiness with family & friends should look like. ISBN: 0810934930"
Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book: Revised and Updated
Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book: Revised and Updated
"Vintage volume originally published in 1977, a bestselling holiday classic & family treasure for over 30 years. Has 85 images of children sleigh-riding, families caroling, & Santa preparing for his big night, 15 new images & 8 prints.  Christmas poems & stories from writers such as Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Hans Christian Andersen, & Lewis Carroll;  music & lyrics & recipes. ISBN: 0810982625"
Holidays Around The World: Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents, and Peace
Holidays Around The World: Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents, and Peace
"A historical & cultural resource for children presenting the global nature of the season of goodwill: Pere Noel in France, Santa Claus in America, La Befana in Italy, and the Three Kings of Hispanic cultures. With first-person narrative, informative back matter, & evocative photography (of course, it's a National Geographic book). Ages: 4 - 8 ISBN: 1426301227"
Christmas Around the World
Christmas Around the World
"2009 Ages 4 - 8 ISBN: 0758617577"
Christmas Around the World
Christmas Around the World
"Discusses the special ways 12 different cultures celebrates the holiday. Features an extensive bibliography, a small selection of craft activities & an interesting selection of Christmas superstitions. ISBN: 0688163238"
Celebrate Christmas Around the World
Celebrate Christmas Around the World
"2004 Expand cultural awareness with Christmas activities from more than 20 countries. Background information is provided along with activities, crafts, carols, legends, recipes, patterns, and more. ISBN: 155734485X"
Christmas Around the World Coloring Book (Dover Holiday Coloring Book)
Christmas Around the World Coloring Book (Dover Holiday Coloring Book)
"2003 Ages 4 - 8 30 pictures to color depicting how Christmas is celebrated around the world.  Carolers in Great Britain, Mexican children playing under a piñata, a Swedish girl wearing a traditional crown of candles, Greek children parading with drums and triangles, an Australian family picnicking on a beach, & more. ISBN: 0486426513"
The Tomten
The Tomten
"1997 Ages 4 - 8 Great Winter Solstice book to help kids feel safe & cozy & snug in their beds on a cold, dark winter's night.  Beautiful illustrations capture a crisp, cold, snowy atmosphere of a still winter's night as the Tomten, a small spirit & guardian of a humble farm homestead whispers encouragment to sleeping animals & children on his secret caretaker rounds. ISBN: 0698115910"
Lucia Morning in Sweden
Lucia Morning in Sweden
"Ages 5 - 10 The story of Sankta Lucia through the eyes of children in modern-day Sweden. Lucia Day, December 13th, one of Sweden's most beloved & celebrated traditions, signifies Christmas is getting close. Swedes celebrate the legacy of Lucia & the coming of the light with coffee, saffron buns, ginger snaps, & singing. Includes Lucia song, recipes & patterns for Lucia gowns. ISBN: 9163117304"
Lucia, Child of Light: The History and Traditions of Sweden's Lucia Celebration
Lucia, Child of Light: The History and Traditions of Sweden's Lucia Celebration
"1989 Traces the origin & legends of 'the maiden with candles in her hair', why Sweden has honored her for so long & the present Lucia Day's tie to pagan folklore. Includes the Lucia songs in English AND Swedish, recipes, & instructions on how to prepare your own Lucia celebration, a simple but charming opener to the Christmas season, with tips to make it fun & beautiful. ISBN: 0916871126"
Lucia and the Light
Lucia and the Light
"2006 Ages 4 - 8 A story from Nordic lore perfect for reading on St. Lucia Day. Not the story of Santa Lucia, though the parallels are obvious.  Luminous pastel paintings of life far up north in a cozy mountain cabin where one day someone steals the sun away. ISBN: 0763622966"
The Oxford Christmas Storybook
The Oxford Christmas Storybook
"1998, Ages 4 - 8 Stories about robins, trees, bells, cakes, puddings, presents, snowmen, goblins, carol-singers, the Wise Men, Father Christmas (& his dog) 19 stories - 15 of them appear for the 1st time here, span many times & many places, evoke the magic and joy of the holiday's celebrations, both religious and secular.  ISBN: 0192781367"
O Holy Night!: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry
O Holy Night!: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry
"1995 The time of year when poetry is actually heard in public, thanks to the resolutely secular works of Clement Clarke Moore ("'Twas the night before Christmas") & Dr. Seuss (The Grinch). Collection includes beautiful religious verse & poetry from Cynewulf to Richard Wilbur, including Virgil (translated), early churchmen, & non-English bards ranging from Dante to Pasternak.  ISBN: 0918477247"
The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Poems (Young Oxford books)
The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Poems (Young Oxford books)
"Gr. 5-8. For older children at Christmas,  features a wide range of mainly British poets, including William Blake, John Donne, Ted Hughes, Charles Causley, Sylvia Plath, & Seamus Heaney. Middle-grade students will need adult help with several of the more difficult poems. Good source for holiday sharing & reading aloud--at home, in the library, & in the classroom. ISBN: 0192763423"
The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book
The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book
"2011 Ages 4 - 8 A collection of Christmas tales & legends from around the world great for reading aloud.  Nativity stories, folk tales from long ago, stories of favorite Christmas figures, & the stories of how many Christmas traditions came about with fun illustrations.  ISBN: 074596916X"
Good King Wenceslas
Good King Wenceslas
"2005 Ages 4 - 8 This rhythmic tribute to the tenth-century Bohemian King Wenceslas & the popular Christmastime song bearing his name begins in a square in the city of Prague, in the Czech Republic, with a statue of the country's patron saint.  The good king looks out of his castle and sees a poor man gathering fuel.  ISBN: 0802852092"
We Three Kings
We Three Kings
"2007 Ages 4 - 8 Interpretation of the carol in an antique-like palette of lush,jewel-hued colors. Although younger ones will need help understanding some of the phrasing, they'll be happy to hum along or just gaze at the sumptuously outfitted parade of camels, elephants, horses and kings making their way to Bethlehem under an inky, starlit sky with singing & trumpeting angels. ISBN: 068982114X"
Humphrey's First Christmas
Humphrey's First Christmas
"2007 Ages 4 - 8 We have all heard the story of the three wise men, but what about the camels who carried them? Here is the imaginative story of Humphrey the camel & his long, cold journey to Bethlehem. In addition to an engaging text & gorgeous, whimsical artwork, this story reminds readers of the importance of Christmas & the true meaning of gift-giving. ISBN: 0824955595"
The Third Gift
The Third Gift
"Nov. 15, 2011 Ages 4 - 8 A fresh take on the three kings or three wise men story.  A simple, moving tale with a boy who is learning his father’s trade; a man who gathers resin from trees; a merchant in the marketplace; & three strangers in brightly colored robes who are shopping for a gift for a baby, ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event ISBN: 0547201958"
The Little Drummer Boy
The Little Drummer Boy
"2000 Ages 4 - 8 Fresh interpretation of Bethlehem depicted with richly hued colored-pencil & watercolor illustrations of the humble stable, & the range of emotion expressed in the face & demeanor of a young boy in a tattered robe carrying a doumbek (representative of drums in the Middle East). Bonus: musical score & lyrics to all three verses. ISBN: 0812430069"
Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House)
Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House)
"1997 Ages 4 - 8 From a series of picture books adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie.  A great introduction to Little House books for prereaders. After working hard to help make the little house ready for the cold, there was frost on the windows &snow on the ground, but Laura & her folks were warm & cozy in their snug little house in the Big Woods. ISBN: 0064434877"
The Polar Express
The Polar Express
"2009 Ages 4 - 8 An amazing book!  About a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve only to have Santa Claus sweep by and take him on a trip with other children to the North Pole in a magical train.  25th Anniversary Edition set includes a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson & a silvery keepsake "All Aboard" ornament. ISBN: 0395389496"
Santa's Reindeer
Santa's Reindeer
"2007 A wonderful & interactive book with fun hidden flaps & envelopes, creatively written with real information on reindeer & beautiful Christmas art.  People also rave about the Santa book by the same author. ISBN: 1416950702"
Santa Claus
Santa Claus
"Your behind the scenes tour of Saint Nick includes ilustrations that jump off the page, facts about the North Pole, artic animals, Santa's house, workshop, the elves, reindeer, etc. There is a page about the mail room, Santa's snowsuit, & a recipe for cookies from Mrs. Claus. Mixes enough plausible science into the magic to make Santa a little more believable for skeptic kids. ISBN: 1416927581"
The Night Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
"PreSchool-Grade 2 One of the many versions of the classic poem presented in a series of greeting-card-type paintings & full-page images of a classically styled Santa that seem suitable for framing.  The look is timeless, traditional, filled with warmth and sentiment: not a unique book, but it's exactly what everyone imagines Christmas should be.  ISBN: 1402754841"
The Night Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
"2005 Yet another rendition of the timeless verse brought to life with beautiful illustrations from Christian Birmingham. Every Christmas Eve brings with it hushed anticipation and wonder. Here is the story of this magical night, when children around the world await the arrival of the gifts that symbolise all the warmth and love of Christmas. ISBN: 0007167113"
The Night Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
"1990 This rendition is a miniature palm-sized book that features beautiful and detailed illustrations of a traditional victorian home. ISBN: 0394826981"
The Night Before Christmas (Sterling Illustrated Classics)
The Night Before Christmas (Sterling Illustrated Classics)
"2010 Another version with gorgeous & highly textured paintings full of feathery brush strokes & depth creating a warm, idealized Christmas that balances the fantasy of the story with realism. Santa visits a simple British country manor house that could have very well existed at the time the poem was first written. Images display the magic of the night in a subdued way. ISBN: 1402781822"
Helping Santa: My First Christmas Adventure with Grandama
Helping Santa: My First Christmas Adventure with Grandama
"Nov. 16, 2011 Grandmas are wise. Told there is no Santa by his older sister the narrator rushes off to consult with Grandma who would be straight with him. Ridiculous she replies & challenges him to become Santa's helper & buy a gift for someone who really needs it. The story unfolds to reveal the true meaning of Christmas & the nature of Santa Claus. ISBN: 1593730934"
A Christmas Like Helen's
A Christmas Like Helen's
"2004 Ages 4 - 8 The author tells contemporary children what Christmas would have been like for her grandmother, living on a farm in Vermont before there were cars, electricity, or telephones. The engaging narrative and Azarian's fine, hand-colored woodcuts combine to raise the story above many similar nostalgic accounts of holidays past. ISBN: 0618231374"
The Mitten, 20th Anniversary Edition
The Mitten, 20th Anniversary Edition
"2009 A Ukrainian folk tale about a boy who loses mittens his grandmother knitted for him in the snow. Some animals promptly move into its snug wool interior.  Jan Brett, illustrator of many well-known folktales, features magnificent folk details such as ornate embroidery & the crusty, peeling texture of the birch bark borders. ISBN: 0399252967"
Home for Christmas
Home for Christmas
"Nov. 1, 2011 Ages 4 - 8 A wild little troll runs away from home because he doesn't want to do his chores, tries living with various woodland animals, finds out there's no place like home & returns to his family just in time for Christmas. Brett's signature borders depict the troll family missing Rollo & animals as appealing as those found in The Mitten. ISBN: 0399256539"
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas
"1991 Ages 4 - 8 A very memorable and well-loved story about an old man who doesn't like children and will not allow skating on his pond even on Christmas Day because he thinks it is his until secrets are uncovered.  Includes a great cranberry cookie recipe. ISBN: 0689715102"
Angelina's Christmas (Angelina Ballerina)
Angelina's Christmas (Angelina Ballerina)
"2008 Ages 4 - 8 Warm tale features a retired postal worker, who is alone in the world.  Angelina visits him & invites him to appear as Father Christmas at the school Christmas show. The community appreciates his contribution & he is invited to the show every year. A wonderful reminder to us that the elderly should be cherished & still have much to offer the community. ISBN: 0142411922"
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition
"2007 Ages 9 - 12 A tear-jerker. A Scrooge-like grouch of a wood carver hiding a sad secret is transformed by an eager 7-year-old boy & his widowed mother. Verges on sentimental, but told with feeling & lyricism. ISBN: 0763636290"