If the appearance of strings of twinkling lights, fresh garlands, and shiny ornaments are of any indication, the holiday season is officially upon us! The most wonderful time of the year is here – and what better way to get in the December spirit than with a list of holiday books sure to give you and your class a case of the warm and fuzzies?
Here’s a list of festive titles to keep your students in a holly, jolly mood all month long!
Books for Early Readers
Pocket’s Christmas Wish by Ann Bonwill, illustrated by Russell Julian
On Christmas morning, Pocket the bunny wakes up wishing from his whiskers to his feet that he could discover what Christmas is really about. After following a set of children’s snowy footprints to a cozy cabin in the woods, a simple act of kindness helps his wish come true! With soft-hued illustrations and the cutest bunny imaginable, this gentle picture book explores the true meaning of Christmas.
A is for Africa, T is for Tales, Z is for Zawadi! This alphabetical book teaches readers about Kwanzaa, the non-religious African American holiday that celebrates cultural heritage, family, and community. Each letter of the alphabet introduces an English or Swahili word with a simple definition explaining the word’s relation to the Kwanzaa. The childlike illustrations are brilliantly colored and boldly outlined to give the book a festive feel, and features an introduction explaining the holiday’s origins and Seven Kwanzaa Principles.
It’s the first night of the holiday, and Old Bubba Brayna is preparing a feast for her friends and the rabbi. But her eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be, and she doesn’t realize that the first guest to arrive is not the rabbi wrapped in his fur coat – but a curious bear attracted by the smell of hot latkes! Readers will get the giggles over this silly holiday story!
Little Bear, Small Fox, and Fluff Bunny have a blast spending their time building a big, smiley snowman. When they return the next morning, they notice that their creation seems sad! He isn’t cold, as they’d thought, but he is missing something very important—a big hug! The text is lively and the luminous illustrations are as soft as a snowflake. This book is a heartwarming friendship tale that’s perfect for reading aloud on a cold winter’s day!
Books for Young Elementary Readers
It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon
The naughty star of No, David! returns in this hilarious look at Christmas traditions from a kid’s perspective. For David, Christmastime means hearing a lot of “NO!”s – NO peeking at hidden gifts, NO snatching Christmas cookies from the baking sheet, and NO playing with the ornaments on the tree. Add to that having to wait in a long line to sit on Santa’s lap and having sit up straight at holiday dinners, and it’s no wonder that Christmas can be a challenge—for David, or any kid! It’s enough to make David worry that Santa will only bring him a lump of coal. Young David learns that, despite the mischief he’s caused, Christmas is a special day filled with joy!
With his animal friends hibernating for the winter, a young boy who lives in the woods feels lonely. When he looks outside and sees a mysterious visitor, he discovers the delight of playing on a snowy day. The touching story has a simple message about living in the moment and enjoying the gifts each day brings. From the award-winning creator of Ghosts in the House, this tale’s magical block-print illustrations make this story as beautifully unique as a snowflake!
In this beloved picture book, Nicki loses one of his new white mittens in the snow, prompting a comically large number of woodland animals, from mice to bears to hedgehogs, to crawl into it to keep warm. Will Nicki find his mitten before it bursts at the seams? Jan Brett’s beautifully detailed illustrations and well-told text bring this Ukrainian folktale to life, offering warm and cozy feelings to all who read it!
When little Squirrel hears about the tradition of making a resolution on New Year’s, she interviews all of her forest friends to find out what they are planning to pledge. Porcupine is going to be less grumpy, Skunk is going to learn how to read, and Turtle and Mole have decided to plant a garden. What will Squirrel’s resolution be? It just might have something to do with all her special friends! These sweetly illustrated woodland animals show their friend Squirrel how to start the year off right.
Books for Middle Elementary Readers
Each year, menacing goblins make it impossible for a poor village to celebrate Hanukkah. The goblins blow out candles, damage the dreidels, and spoil the latkes. It takes the clever Hershel to outwit the goblins one by one, defeat the Goblin King, and break the spell forever! A creative adaptation of an ancient Hanukkah story, this book will captivate your class from cover to cover!
The cards are all crushed, the wrapping paper is ripped, the tree has toppled, and one wacky cat is behind it all. The holiday hustle and bustle is just too much for cranky Kitty—and when she doesn’t get everything she wants, she loses her temper. On the way to Uncle Murray’s, crazy Kitty hops out of the car window and goes on a Christmas caper—creeping around the city while everyone else is sleeping. She meets a new friend and finds an old friend—and learns the meaning of Christmas (kind of)!
After hearing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on the radio, Olive’s life is completely changed! This little dog mistakenly hears the lyric “all of the other reindeer,” as “Olive, the other reindeer”… leading her to believe that she must not be a dog at all – but rather – Olive, the reindeer! Inspired by her newfound discovery, she sets off for the North Pole to help Santa on his big night. Although she can’t actually fly, Olive does have some special skills of her own. Her talents of chewing, sniffing, and fetching save the day! It turns out Olive is just the “reindeer” that Santa needs!
Amazingly detailed miniature scenes take readers from the toy workshop to the Christmas tree—all in search of hidden items! From the toy workshop to the Christmas tree – children can read the simple text and use the picture clues to search for dozens of hidden trinkets and toys. Children will develop their observational skills, and become used to noticing subtle differences in both words and pictures.
Upper Elementary/Middle School Readers
Jake and his mom have always been just fine on their own. But when his mother ends up in the hospital with a broken leg, the grandfather Jake barely knows comes to stay—and brings his nightmare dog along. Jake is sure that his Christmas is ruined—until a makeshift new family of friends and neighbors help his family celebrate their best Christmas ever. A perfect book for fans of Because of Winn-Dixie – this heartwarming true-to-life story celebrates the importance of family and community. Readers will fall in love with the wise and endearing young narrator, and the story is ideal for reading aloud as a class.
One night a year, Santa delivers presents. But have you ever wondered how he spends his other 364 days? Guy Bass lets us in on Santa’s biggest secret – he’s actually an agent for X.M.A.S.—the Extremely Mysterious Agency of Secrets! Armed with super-powered, wacky gadgets, he’s ready to cross some bad guys off The Naughty List!
In this heartwarming holiday tale, a man takes a homeless family under his wing and tries to find them a place to live in time for Christmas. First published in 1958, this Newbery Honor Book has become a classic holiday favorite. Armand, an old hobo, loves his solitary and carefree life under a bridge in Paris. But one day, Armand’s simple life becomes complicated: He discovers a family living under his bridge, complete with a working mother and three children. As Christmas nears, Armand becomes not only a friend to the children, but someone who is determined to make their holiday wishes for a real home come true. Great for reading aloud the importance of kindness and selfless giving.