Every year, my kids and I have a special book tradition -- we have a special stash of holiday books that we only bring out at Christmastime.
We pull out all our Christmas & Winter books and put them in a special basket to read throughout the month.
Sometimes we'll wrap the books and choose one each night for a 'surprise' storytime. And some years, we'll match a book with each holiday tradition.
By connecting a story with a tradition, the kids have fun relating their experience to that in the story and they have learned some of the history behind various traditions.
Here's a list of Christmas Traditions along with some of our favorite books to go with each one!
Tradition: Getting the Tree
Whether you head out to a Christmas Tree farm or browse the local tree lot, you know that part of the fun is finding 'just the right' tree!
The Bear Family loves their annual trek to the woods to find their Christmas tree! But when they find the one they love, they also realize that it's a home for some other forest friends. When they come home without a tree, their friends come to the rescue!
In this beautiful Appalachian story, a young girl and her mother must accept the responsibility of finding the town's Christmas tree since her father has not yet returned from war. Ruthie and her mother set off together on a quest to find the perfect tree -- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is a must read during the holidays!!
When Wilma starts her own Christmas tree farm, she realizes she may need some help. Her 5-year-old neighbor steps up to help her and together they care for the trees together year after year. This is a wonderful story of how young kids can have a huge impact in the lives of others, and friendship across the years!
Tradition: Sharing with Others
One of the things that make the holidays so joyous is giving to others!
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree is a wonderful story about a tree that's just a little too big for the Willowbys -- so they cut a little off the top. The butler takes that top for his room, which is just a smidge too tall, so he cuts a little off too. As the story continues, the reader experiences the joy of how many people benefit from Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree!
The Carpenter's Gift is a beautiful story of giving. When Henry was young, he and his father sold Christmas trees in New York City. They give the gift of a tree to the construction workers at Rockefeller Center. In return, Henry's wish for a real house comes true. Henry then plants a pinecone from the first tree, lets it grow and years later, donates it to be the tree that stands in Rockefeller Center.
Visiting with Santa and writing him letters are a big tradition for many kids.
What would you do if you found Santa's Book of Names? Edward is a young boy who can't quite read but happens upon Santa's book. Edward takes a trip with Santa and realizes that it's up to him to read the book, which he learns to do beautifully! Since books are a big part of our holiday, I do love this story :-)
This book is for all kids who ask those great questions at this time of year - how does Santa's sleigh work? What is reindeer training like? In addition, the book includes holiday tags, stickers, Santa's map, cookie recipes and much more! We have tons of fun with this book!
Tradition: Putting Up the Nativity
A beautifully illustrated version of the first Christmas. Kids will enjoy the rhyming verse and flow of the story as they learn who visited Bethlehem that night in This is the Stable.
Mortimer doesn't like his mouse hole -- it's cold and dark and lonely. When he finds a manger scene in the house, he thinks it's the perfect place! Wonderful illustrations add to this great story of the true meaning of Christmas; kids will love following Mortimer's journey!
Tradition: Decorate the House
Christmas with the Mousekins is a newer book that we just love! The Mousekin family is preparing for Christmas and kids can do activities along with them. The book includes easy crafts, recipes, poems and stories. Make some fun decorations for your house too!
A kids favorite! If You Take a Mouse to the Movies follows the antics of the mouse as he starts his day at the movies, wants some popcorn which he then wants to string together to decorate the tree and on and on. Kids will enjoy the quick moving holiday fun as mouse weaves many Christmas traditions into his day.
Tradition: Going to See the Lights
We love to drive around during the holidays and look at the lights - do you? Christmas Lights is an adorable book about a family (kids in their pj's) who drive around their town to see the lights. A fun family tradition!
Tradition: Building a Snowman
Snowmen at Christmas is a fun look at what snowmen do for Christmas when we all go to sleep! I love the amazing antics of this book and kids laugh at what snowmen enjoy about the holiday. A great read for bedtime (especially on a day you built a snowman)!
A classic book for kids and beautifully illustrated -- The Snowman is a wordless book that follows the adventures of a boy and the snowman he created. The Snowman introduces the boy to his world and the boy shows the snowman the wonders of our world. Wondeful story and the kids can help 'read' the book by making up their own words.
Tradition: Christmas Songs & Carols
I am a HUGE fan of Richard Scarry -- in addition, I love that this book has a mini-piano attached! Richard Scarry's Favorite Christmas Carols includes 10 popular carols along with the notes (which are labeled on the piano keys) so kids can play along with the songs!
If this is the first Christmas your family is caroling (in the neighborhood or with friends), the kids will enjoy practicing eight traditional carols, along with enjoying the wonderful pictures, in Tomie dePaola's My First Christmas Carols.
Tradition: First Snow of the Holiday
A great story to read when the kids are hoping for snow on Christmas! On Christmas Eve, an old farmer wonders how Christmas will come when there's no snow. As he sleeps, he dreams of snow -- and when he wakes up, there's a blanket of white!
There's just something adorable about a 'snowmouse'! In Mouse's First Snow, loveable Mouse enjoys many winter activities now that the snow has arrived. The illustrations are so engaging -- we're a big fan of Mouse!
Tradition: Seeing the Nutcracker
I love this kid-friendly version of the Nutcracker Ballet -- it tells the story of the Nutcracker but also shows some wonderful pictures of what you might see when you attend a live performance. My daughter likes to read this story with a nutcracker close by :-)
Tradition: Baking Cookies
One of the best parts of baking at Christmas is the wonderful smells that fill the house! One of my daughter's favorite types of books are the scratch-n-sniff ones, and The Sweet Smell of Christmas has some great baking scents -- gingerbread, candy canes, apple pie -- YUM!
The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher is an old book that's finally back in print! While the cookies are baking, the kids will enjoy finding out who stole all the sprinkles in this fun holiday story. The book also shares a wonderful message about sharing.
Tradition: Go Sledding
I just love the illustrations in this mostly wordless picture book! Red Sled shows what happens when the woodland animals take a red sled out for some nighttime fun - wonderfully enjoyable!
Tradition: Ice-skating Fun
Young kids will enjoy Caillou Learns to Skate. Many children have seen the cartoon Caillou and can identify with someone their age who is learning new things. Kids who want to learn to skate or who are just learning will enjoy the story.
Older kids will be interested to learn the skating terms and various things skaters can do in A is for Axel. Kids will learn about the history of skating, techniques used by skaters and great moments of the sport.
Tradition: Buy a Poinsettia
Many homes have poinsettias at this time of the year. In The Legend of the Poinsettia, children can learn more about the significance of the flower and why it blooms at Christmas. The book is written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola who does a wonderful job with the pictures!
Tradition: Watch a Holiday Movie
Enjoy the book before you see the movie - here are some family favorites!
The Polar Express
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
A Christmas Carol (family-friendly versions!)
Tradition: Christmas Eve
Many families have the tradition of reading Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. There are so many versions of the story -- choose the one your family likes the best and keep the book to hand down to your kids when they start their own family.
Another wonderful book to read on Christmas Eve day is Christmas is Coming! Juliette and her parents are getting ready for Christmas Day - baking cookies, decorating the tree, wrapping gifts. I love the gold-tipped illustrations in this book - the pages look like they glow when as you read!
Tradition: Snow Days
Fancy Nancy and her friends get a snow day! Who doesn't love a snow day (unless you have to drive in it :-) See what Nancy and her friends do with their day off from school -- it may give your kids some ideas for activities they'd love to do on snow days.
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