‘Tis the night before Christmas. Lights are twinkling in the dark night, the stockings are hung, and the sugar cookies and carrots are neatly arranged on a plate near the crackling fire. The children are all nestled snugly in their beds, and you’re settling in for your annual Scrooged screening. But wait! What’s that you say? The children are up? They can’t sleep and wish to hold an all-night vigil awaiting the big guy’s midnight visit? You, my sleepy elf, need books. Luckily, we can help! Below, find a list of some of our favorite holiday stories from 2014. They’re the perfect way to calm your excited little rein-dears and send them off to a sleep deeper than the legendary peppermint hot chocolate coma. Enjoy, and may your merry little Christmas be calm, bright, and filled with all the delights of the season.
The Animals’ Santa, by Jan Brett
With a heartwarming narrative and trademark dual-story illustrations that bring the beauty of the forest and the anticipation of the season to life, Jan Brett has created another holiday masterpiece. When Big Snowshoe describes the Animals’ Santa to Little Snow, Little Snow is full of questions. Who is the Animals’ Santa? How does he get all the presents made in time? After asking all his forest friends, who are as eager for Christmas Day to arrive as he is, Little Snow, unfortunately, has no more answers. He’s growing skeptical. But Big Snowshoe has a plan to put Little Snow at ease, and the ending presents a clever, heartwarming twist that will delight parents and children alike.
Santa Claus: The Magical World of Father Christmas, by Rod Green
The perfect book for any kid (or adult) who has ever wondered exactly what goes on at the North Pole throughout the year, Santa Claus is an enchanting tell-all. Visit the workshop and Elf Village to see the industrious elves, step inside the mail room to see the millions of letters waiting to be sorted, and, of course, learn how Santa Claus manages to get to billions of houses in one night. This is a story you’ll treasure for many Christmases to come.
The Last Christmas Tree, by Stephen Krensky
One diminutive, nondescript fir sits in a lot, nestled among the grander balsams and frasers. As Christmas Eve approaches, the robust trees are picked one by one, and soon the scraggly tree is all alone. He never gives up hope that he will be selected, however, and finally, a jolly man in a red hat picks the plucky tree up, takes him home, and decorates him with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. This touching story is a wonderful way to end your Christmas Eve celebration, and will fill you with hope for the coming morn’.
And Then Comes Christmas, by Tom Brenner
With lovely, lyrical language, and illustrations that tenderly evoke the coming of winter, this story is a perfectly paced countdown to Christmas. In sequential order, And Then Comes Christmas highlights children’s favorite activities of the season, from hanging boughs of fir, tissue-paper snowflakes, and lights, to making handcrafted ornaments, baked goodies, and listening to favorite Christmas stories at bedtime—and, in doing so, makes the waiting fun! Once you’ve read this wonderful story, you’ll want to make this a part of your Christmas Eve tradition every year.
The Christmas Truck, by J.B. Blankenship
Jolly and comforting, and told in familiar rhyming prose, The Christmas Truck celebrates one of the greatest feelings of the holiday season: the joy of giving. For Papa, Dad, and their son, who’s also the story’s narrator, Christmas comes in many forms: the twinkling lights, the oyster stew on Christmas Eve, and the town square Christmas tree. But when disaster strikes on Christmas Eve, just as their family and friends have gathered for their special meal, the cheer quickly fades to gloom. Fortunately, Grandma has an idea that will save the holiday, and the family sets off on a late-night gift-giving adventure that reminds them all what Christmas is really about.
Star Bright: A Christmas Story, by Alison McGhee
Everyone in Heaven is thrilled that a baby’s about to be born, and they all plan to bring gifts to celebrate. But the littlest angel, with her red hair and aviator goggles, stands apart from her more elegantly dressed and well-mannered peers. What can she possibly offer to this glorious baby? She finally alights on an innovative idea, and it might just be the best offering, for it’s those gifts of absolute wonder that truly embody the magic and sparkle of the season.
Snowman’s Story, by Will Hillenbrand
A charming tale with no words, Snowman’s Story is a wintry delight for all ages. It’s a snowy, windy day when a hat flies through the air, finally settling on the fresh, powdery head of a snowman. Unbeknownst to the snowman, a mischievous rabbit is hiding inside the hat, and he listens while Snowman reads a story to his friends. The moment the tale is finished, the naughty rabbit runs off with the book, and a hilarious romp (that your children will adore narrating!) ensues. Be sure to reach for this story when the wind starts howling on Christmas Eve.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (75th anniversary), by Robert L. May
Like hot chocolate without marshmallows, a Christmas Eve without Rudolph is a lot less sweet. Rudolph turns 75 this year, but he’s still as spry as ever, and prepared to use his nasal aberration to his advantage. Indeed, he’s ready to lead Santa’s sleigh, much to the chagrin of his fellow skeptical reindeer. Pick up the anniversary edition for your Christmas Eve celebration and curl up with your kids for a reading of this heartwarming classic.
Blizzard, by John Rocco
In Blizzard, author and illustrator Rocco offers readers a vivid recollection of his boyhood experience in the infamous New England Blizzard of 1978. Relive Rocco’s journey into the powder in the beginning, and behold the magic and stillness of the snowy world in the spare text and powerful illustrations. When food supplies start to dwindle after a few days, however, the wonder wanes and panic is on the horizon. Rocco, with improvised snowshoes and a lot of grit, becomes our hero. Get cozy and add this feel-good tale to your Christmas Eve lineup—readers in all climates will find something to love here!
Skippyjon Jones: Snow What, by Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones loves playing in the snow with his sisters Jezebel, Ju-Ju Bee, and Jilly Boo, but when Mama calls them in for hot catnip cocoa and a story, Skippyjon is outnumbered and Snow White—his sisters’ “favorite fuzzy tale”—wins out. Disappointed with the “shmuzzy,” girly tale, he stomps off to his room, jumps on his bed, and begins to transform into his garrulous alter ego, Skippito Friskito. He and his band of mischievous Chihuahuas embark on a hilarious adventure, and Skippito might just be the prince who has to bring poor frozen princess Snow What back to life with a slobbery kiss. Snow What is filled with raucous, heart-melting fun; it’s a perfect snowy Christmas Eve fantasy.
What book will you read to your kids on Christmas Eve?