This story was shared by our contributor Rosemary D’Urso of Library Mom. Follow her on Instagram @librarymombooks.
Christmas is around the corner and it is time to break out the holiday stories!!! With more inclusive books than ever before, along with tales focusing on family and community, and, of course, a few that will make little ones giggle, you are not going to want to miss these outstanding new Christmas books!
Construction Site Merry and Bright by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrated by A.G. Ford, 2021
Little hands will love exploring this lift-the-flap board book featuring the beloved characters from the bestselling Good Night Good Night Construction Site series. Upbeat rhymes follow the construction crew as they spread Christmas cheer through their community.
Carla and the Christmas Cornbread by Carla Hall; illustrated by Cherise Harris, 2021
It’s Christmas Eve, and Carla can’t wait to spend the holiday with her grandparents! In addition to the cherished time together as a family, Carla is looking forward to her grandmother’s special cornbread she prepares every year. The holiday dinner is as delicious as she hoped, but when she accidentally takes a bite out of the cookie left for Santa, she worries she has ruined Christmas. Luckily, Grandma is there to whip up another batch of cornbread this time for Santa! The love felt between Carla and her family is palpable making this a timeless tale that I know we will be reading again and again. You can bet we will also be trying Carla’s Christmas Cornbread recipe in the back of the book along with the cinnamon butter!
A Christmas Too Big by Colleen Madden
This standout intergenerational story features a young girl and a Hispanic woman who discover the simple delights of the holidays. Feeling overwhelmed by the constant Christmas decorations, songs, cookies, and T.V. specials in her house, Kerry seeks solace outside where she runs into her neighbor Mrs. Flores. After helping her into her house, Kerry is intrigued by a Mexican tradition of creating flores de Navidad. Mrs. Flores shows her how to make the beautiful flowers while Kerry helps her connect with her family in Mexico through technology. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the holiday hustle and bustle and I love how this sweet story reminds us to slow down and reevaluate what is really important. I also adore how Spanish vocabulary is sprinkled in the text and a special tradition is shared between families. There are even instructions for kids to make the colorful flores de Navidad themselves!
Where’s Waldo? Santa Spotlight Search by Martin Handford, 2021
Waldo lovers will rejoice at this festive interactive book! Readers are invited to use a special spotlight searcher that lights up several dark winter scenes to find Waldo and a myriad of other holiday items. This book is pure fun and one that I know will keep my kids entertained long after unwrapping presents on Christmas morning!
A Bear to Share by Jessica Alba; illustrated by Kelly Sawyer Patricof; illustrated by Alicia Más, 2021
While a young girl named Tiana loves toting around her beloved teddy bear, her mother thinks it is time to replace the tattered stuffed animal with a new one. Tiana turns to her best friend Timothy for advice, but is shocked to discover his parents have never been able to afford to buy him a teddy bear of his own. In a powerful scene, Tiana shares the new bear with Timothy. As he lights up with happiness, she feels her heart shine as well. A Bear to Share provided the perfect opportunity to open up an valuable conversation with my kids about why it is so important to help others and what generous acts we could do this holiday season.
Grumpy Monkey Oh, No! Christmas by Suzanne Lang; illustrated by Max Lang, 2021
Filled with humor and a positive message about point of view, this comical story has become a new favorite in our house! Even though all the other animals think Christmas is a magical time to celebrate, Jim Panzee can’t get over the fact that it’s raining, and none of the bananas are ripe, and pretty much nothing seems to be going his way. It’s only when a friend encourages him to change his perspective that he can see things with a more positive lens and realizes that “Taking time to notice the good things can make your problems seem smaller.”
The Wishing Tree by Meika Hashimoto; illustrated by Xindi Yan, 2021
Noticing that his town is lacking the holiday spirit, Theo writes a letter to Santa asking him to show others how special Christmas can be. In return, Theo finds a magical tree that gives him helpful advice. Theo does his best to bring his community together by sharing joy through sparkly lights and creating harmony by singing carols. Although things now appear merry and bright, Theo is disappointed to learn his parents have to work on Christmas. In a rewarding twist, the community comes together to cheer up Theo and create a new tradition of placing wishes on the enchanted tree. With its sweet message of community and eye-catching illustrations, there is a lot to love about this charming story. As an extra bonus, there are twelve holiday cards readers can write a wish on and hang on their own tree!
The Christmas Owl by Gideon Sterer and Ellen Kelish; illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, 2021
Based on true events, this enthralling story shares the tale of a little owl who was found in the Rockefeller Tree. Confused and scared, the owl tries to make sense of what has happened to her home and what this holiday called Christmas is all about. Placed with Ellen, the director of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, the owl finds kindness and comes to appreciate the love that can be felt during Christmas time. Informational backmatter contains photos and additional notes about the real owl.
Tiny Reindeer by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, 2021
Tiny Reindeer might just be the most adorable reindeer ever! Unfortunately, due to his small size, he has difficulty finding a job at the North Pole that he can excel at. Everything changes, however, when he finds an earnest letter from a young girl asking for a small reindeer to pull her toy sleigh. In an act of bravery, Tiny Reindeer sneaks onto Santa’s sleigh and makes his way to the girl for a Christmas surprise! My kids especially love the amusing illustrations in this cute story!
Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson; illustrated by Reggie Brown, 2021
Though Deja still believes in Santa, many of her classmates don’t and challenge her certainty with questions such as how Santa can visit an apartment building without a chimney. Her mom provides several satisfying answers, but it isn’t until Deja receives a special note directly from Santa that her full belief is restored. Many readers, especially those living in cities, will relate to this wonderfully inclusive and joyful story!
Charlotte and the Nutcracker by Charlotte Nebres, illustrated by Alea Marley
Children will marvel at the story of Charlotte Nebres, who at age eleven, became the first Black dancer to star as Marie in the New York City Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker. Using her own words, Charlotte describes the practice and perseverance it took to reach her dream. Readers will also enjoy learning about Charlotte’s Trinidadian and Filipinx traditions as she celebrates Christmas offstage with her family.
Santa Jaws by Bridget Heos; illustrated by Galia Berstein, 2021
Shark lovers won’t be able to resist this comical holiday-themed deep-sea adventure! Rolling rhymes follow a variety of sharks as they prepare for the holidays awaiting the highly anticipated visit from Santa Jaws himself. This book is a ton of fun and is enhanced with informative backmatter providing additional facts on the sharks featured.
Who Will Pull Santa’s Sleigh? by Russ Willms, 2021
Fans of funny books will enjoy this silly story following Santa as he interviews a variety of animals to pull his sleigh. From bats, to sloths, to sharks each audition ends with comical results until reindeers prove to be the perfect applicants. With its humorous text and colorful illustrations, this is a good choice for holiday storytimes
Red and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy, 2021
Inspired by true events, this stirring story demonstrates how one small town overcame a terrible act and united as a community to show the importance of respecting differences.
Isaac and Teresa are friends and neighbors who are both looking forward to the upcoming holidays. When someone throws a stone through Isaac’s window extinguishing his menorah, Teresa places a picture of a menorah in her own window to show support for Isaac and his family. The idea catches on and soon the entire town places pictures of menorahs in their windows. From the library to local restaurants and stores, menorahs lined the streets filling more than 10,000 windows.
The Real Santa by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Charnalle Pinkney Barlow
A young boy happily prepares for Christmas with this family in this lovable holiday tale. As they decorate, the boy notices the many figurines and pictures of Santa all look a bit different and he ponders what the real Santa looks like. On Christmas Eve, he sneaks a quick glance at the real Santa and is elated to find he looks just like him!
Merry Christmas Anne by Kallie George; illustrated by Geneviève Godbout, 2021
Fans of Anne of Green Gables will appreciate this heartwarming story. Anne is feeling especially grateful this holiday for her adoptive family and sense of community she has found in her new home. Whether a parent feeling nostalgic about a beloved character or a child meeting Anne for the first time, readers will love this enchanting tale.
Merry Witchmas by Petrell Marie Özbay; illustrated by Sonya Abby, 2021
While a witch named Ginger adores Halloween, she is also magically drawn to Christmas. Since Santa does not believe in witches, she has never received a gift from him. This year she is determined to get his attention and sends him a letter with a map to her invisible home. Full of delightful details, this unique story is spell-binding!
The Toys’ Christmas by Claire Clement; illustrated by Geneviève Godbout, 2021
Warm and inviting artwork draw the reader into this darling story featuring a group of stuffed animals who sneak off into the night to tell Santa the one special toy their child would like for Christmas. The muted illustrations add to the cozy feel of the story, making this a good choice for sharing at bedtime while cuddling up with a cherished stuffed animal.
Santa Mouse Where Are You? by Michael Brown; illustrated by Elfrieda De Witt, 2021
An adorable little mouse is Santa’s helper in this classic tale. It’s Christmas Eve and Santa Mouse has made the perfect little gift with a yellow ribbon. Unfortunately, he and the present fall out of the sleigh and into the cold dark woods. Saved by a bright light shining from a tree, Santa Mouse makes his way to a house where he leaves the unique gift for a thoughtful child.
The illustrations have a vintage feel to them adding to the charm of the story. Little animal lovers will adore this quiet tale that invites readers to try a new holiday tradition of sharing a gift with a yellow ribbon of their own.
Jan Brett’s The Nutcracker by Jan Brett
I continue to be amazed by Jan Brett’s gorgeous illustrations. In her version of the traditional Nutcracker, she sets the story in a beautiful Russian wonderland with dancing animals. With so many intricate details throughout the stunning pictures, readers will enjoy revisiting this book multiple times.