The holidays are a great time for sharing the gift of a story. Holiday stories for young readers can become a part of the holiday traditions that bring families together.
“The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present” by Harriet Muncaster, 2016, Putnam Books, ages 4-7.
Clementine is the smallest girl in the world, yet Santa continues to send her human-sized presents, a pair of slippers, a puppy, a box of paints. Clementine hints in her letters to Santa, but he does not seem to understand. But one Christmas morning Clementine receives a gift that is just right for her. The author/illustrator, Harriet Muncaster, loves miniatures, which served as inspiration for this story of a miniature girl’s small world.
“The Christmas Boot” by Lisa Wheeler, Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, 2016, Dial Books, ages 4-8.
The magic of Christmas touches Hannah Greyweather, while living deep in the woods. The very things Hannah needs most, boots and mittens, mysteriously appear. The owner comes to claim these items, but leaves another gift in their place. Watercolor illustrations beautifully depict the snowy village at Christmas time and Hannah’s emotions as her wishes are granted. Illustrator Jerry Pinkney has won numerous awards for his illustrations, including the Caldecott Medal and “New York Times” Best Illustrated Award.
“Gingerbread Christmas” by Jan Brett, 2016, Penguin, ages 4-7.
The gingerbread baby wants a musical band so he can take part in the village Christmas Festival. Gingerbread instruments come to life and their sweet music inspires much dancing and smiling, until the festival-goers decide that a piece of gingerbread would be quite tasty. Quick thinking, and a little snow helps the band to blend in and stay safe. In her signature style, Jan Brett creates detailed and beautiful illustrations that will make this book a Christmas favorite.
“Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree” by Lori Nichols, 2016, Nancy Paulsen Books, ages 4-6.
Young sisters, Maple and Willow, prepare for Christmas by picking out and decorating a real Christmas tree. But when Maple cannot stop sneezing, the tree must go outside. These resourceful girls find another way to decorate for the holiday. The sweet illustrations depict two sisters who have come to rely on and support each other. Adults are let out of the illustrations, which puts the reader’s attention on the two stars of the show and the ways they solve problems together.
“The Great Spruce” by John Duvall, Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon, 2016, Putnam Books, 5-8.
Many communities follow the holiday tradition of cutting down a large spruce tree to be decorated and displayed in a special location for all to admire. One young boy, Alec, calls this tradition into question and wonders if the tree could be moved, rather than cut down. Others agree, and now the tree will continue living for others to enjoy. An author’s note at the end of the book shares a bit of history about the Christmas tree tradition and includes a description of the process for transplanting a tree.
“The Nutcracker” by New York City Ballet, Illustrated by Valeria Docampo, 2016, Little Simon, ages 4-8.
The traditional holiday story of The Nutcracker, often performed as a ballet, is told in this beautifully illustrated picture book. George Balanchine choreographed his version of The Nutcracker ballet, first preformed in 1954 by New York City Ballet, and this book shares Balanchine’s interpretation of the story. Delicate and visually stunning illustrations present the Sugarplum Fairy and other characters as if they could dance right off the page.