Your entire family will love this list of holiday books to read for all ages. Covering Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa – there is something for everyone.
Is It Christmas Yet? By Frederick Glasser Illustrated by Edward Miller Abrams, 2020, $9.99
Tots can revel in the holidays with this lively board book. On every double-page spread, an intriguing cardboard door opens to reveal a short rhyme and a Christmas motif, including a cheery snowman, carolers and Santa. This ingeniously engineered story certainly delivers on its first-page promise: “Merry Christmas! Take a look. You will love this festive book!”
Christmas Is Joy By Emma Dodd Candlewick, 2020, $14.99
A mother reindeer and her fawn stroll through winter field and forest in a lullaby book as serene as a gentle snowfall. The “s” sounds throughout reinforce a sense of quiet joy as the story closes with the two animals snuggled sleepily together as the rhyming text softly intones: “Christmas is peace, stars twinkling above, a night of sweet dreams and a heart full of love.”
ages 3 – 8
Little Red Sleigh By Erin Guendelsberger Illustrated by Elizaveta Tretyakova Sourcebooks, 2020, $17.99
In a cozy Christmas shop, Little Red yearns to be big enough to become Santa’s magic sleigh, so she sets off for the North Pole. Along the way, she travels with a helpful train and yellow truck, but her hopes are dashed when a blizzard sidelines her journey. A small girl discovers Little Red and they have a marvelous day together. The child brings the sleigh home with her, and Little Red awakens Christmas morning to a special note from Santa, thanking her for bringing joy to the child and asking her to visit him next year. This charming adventure invites youngsters to reflect on ways they might spread happiness to others.
The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol By Arthur Levine Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes Candlewick, 2020, $19.99
In an author’s note, Arthur Levine mentions his wistfulness as a Jewish child surrounded by the decorations and traditions of Christmas, and so he created this tale of a Hanukkah spirit named Nate Gadol. Nate “made things last as long as they needed to,” whether the long-ago lamp oil for eight days and nights or butter for a special cake or money to share with poor neighbors. When the Glaser family needs some Hanukkah cheer and Santa runs short of sleigh-flying magic, Nate and Santa team up to help one another – and people around the world. This unique story is sure to become a holiday classic, especially with Kevin Hawkes’ vivid, gilt-touched art.
Peppermint Post By Bruce Hale Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis HarperCollins, 2020, $17.99
On Christmas Eve, the penguins and polar bear at the Peppermint Post, in the North Pole, are relaxing with hot cocoa when a last letter surfaces. Santa has already gone, and the elves say it’s too late … but the postal crew cobbles together a plan. Will they reach Santa in time, with a flimsy sleigh pulled by flightless birds? Playful artwork amps up the zany in this surprisingly heart-warming story.
Milo’s Christmas Parade By Jennie Palmer Abrams, 2020, $17.99
Author/illustrator Jennie Palmer draws on prior experience as a designer for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to chronicle the efforts of an opossum who longs to be in the annual Christmas parade. One year, Milo takes matters into his own paws and – with his supportive family – fashions an amazing float … only to have it destroyed by a giant parade balloon. Happily, Milo discovers an unexpected partner in Santa, and the opossum family literally takes the lead in an innovative parade sleigh. Milo is a resourceful role model, working steadfastly, through setbacks and rejections, to make his dreams come true.
Buzzing with Questions By Janice Harrington Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III Astra/Calkins Creek, 2019, $18.99
As a child in the late 1800s, Charles Henry David was very curious about ants, bees and spiders. How did they learn? Did they see colors and patterns? David was determined to become a scientist, and he attended college and graduate school, bucking the racism that threatened his goals. He maintained a busy career as a high school teacher, while also publishing 50 scientific papers on his findings. As a zoologist and educator, David embodies the Kwanzaa principles of self-determination, purpose, creativity and collective work and responsibility. Through this engaging biography, he is sure to inspire young readers to attend to the questions buzzing in their minds.
ages 9 – 13
The Magic in Changing Your Stars By Leah Henderson Sterling, 2020, $16.95
Ailey Benjamin Lane wants to perform in the school musical “The Wiz” but flubs the audition. His grandfather encourages him with a mysterious gift that whisks him back to 1930s Harlem, where he gets to know his talented, but self-doubting Grandpa as a boy. Award-winning local author Leah Henderson takes young readers on an enthralling magical journey into African American culture of the time and into the heart of family.
Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) By Daniel Nayeri Levine Querido, 2020, $17.99
Daniel Nayeri draws from his childhood memories of being an immigrant in this big-hearted novel. Like memory itself, the story leaps about in time – intriguing but never losing the reader. It opens with the 12-year-old protagonist, Khosrou, struggling to tell his Oklahoma classmates about his earlier years in Iran. The American preteens try to understand his vivid tales – which include a toy named Mr. Sheep Sheep, a gold car, a lionhearted mom in mortal danger and cities they equate with those in the Disney animated film “Aladdin.” This book is a compelling glimpse of a youngster seeking to make sense of his own fantastical, sometimes harrowing, experience.