Books provide a tool for sharing the traditions of the holiday season, whether we share these traditions or are learning about new traditions.

“Jake” by Audrey Couloumbis, Random House, 2010, ages 8 and up, 162 pages.

An icy parking lot, a fall, his mom’s badly broken leg, and her week in the hospital put a damper on Jake’s plans for Christmas and his hopes for getting a new bike. A neighbor and friend steps in to help and contacts Jake’s grandpa, who has not visited since the funeral of Jake’s father several years ago. A makeshift family of friends, neighbors, and Grandpa help to make this Christmas special for both Jake and his mom.

“The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Charles Santore, 2011, Applesauce Press, ages 3 and up.

This classic version of the beloved Christmas tale is based on the original poem, Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, first published in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1923. Beautiful illustrations, including the double spread of a night time winter scene, bring to life the sense of anticipation on this special night.

“Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama” by Selina Alko, Knopf, 2012, ages 5 and up.

A young girl describes her family’s holiday traditions as a blend of customs from her mother’s and father’s different religious backgrounds. This family’s rituals mingle candy canes on menorah branches and latkes and milk left for Santa. The story is based on the author’s own experiences celebrating Hanukkah and her husband’s celebrating Christmas, and the ways they brought together the traditions for their own family.

“Cowboy Christmas” by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by John Manders, Golden Books, 2012, ages 4 and up.

Three cowboys out on the range longingly share their family Christmas traditions. Dwight, Darryl, and Dub try to mimic these traditions with their limited supplies by decorating the Christmas cactus with hay and empty bean cans and making sugar-molasses-bean cookies for Santy. Doubtful that Santy will find them, they mosey home after a long day of cattle wrestling. The three cowboys are surprised to find a beautiful tree, gifts, and a turkey roasting over the campfire.

“How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?” by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague, Blue Sky Press, 2012, ages 3 and up.

These beloved, yet mischievous dinosaurs, are known through other books in the collection, including How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday? In this edition, the prankish dinosaurs lick the candy canes, dump the stockings and take the best gifts, yet they also help trim the tree, sing carols, and give Christmas cheer. All will enjoy the dinosaurs’ antics as they endear themselves to readers young and old alike.

Make reading a holiday book with a special young reader one of your holiday traditions.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler

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