Ten (not quite) Classic Holiday Books

holiday books collage

We all have our favorite holiday books to read this time of the year, from Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas to Clement Moore’s famous poem “The Night Before Christmas”.  This holiday season, why not mix it up a little? Try pairing your favorites with another book that takes a twist on the original and have fun exploring some brand new stories which are sure to one day become classics!

snowmen at nightSnowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

Summary: Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do at night?

Review: It’s kind of like Toy Story: what do snowmen really do when no one is looking?  Play baseball?  Drink ice cold cocoa?  Go sledding?  Although the story is tons of fun to read, it’s the illustrations that will keep kids picking up this book again and again.  Each time I read this book I notice something new in the illustrations, like a funny expression on a snowman’s face as he goes ice skating in the park.  There is also a list of hidden pictures to find throughout the book, making this one a top pick every year.


duck and gooseDuck and Goose: It’s Time for Christmas! by Tad Hill

Summary: Our feathered friends are getting ready for Christmas. The only problem? Goose is more interested in skating, sledding, and making snow angels than in helping Duck decorate their Christmas tree. While Goose has the time of his life in the snow, it seems poor Duck will be left to do all the work.

Review: Duck and Goose are friends who seem to have trouble getting along but always find a way to compromise in the end.  All of their books have fabulous illustrations paired with a simple yet engaging story line, making Duck & Goose perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who are ready to transition into real stories with a plot.


ladybug girlLadybug Girl and the Big Snow by Jacky Davis

Summary: Lulu and her dog Bingo wake up to a snow-covered yard and decide to have the best snow day ever. They make penguin tracks and taste the frosting-like snow. But the snow is deep and cold, and when Lulu tries to build a fort or make a snowball, her mittens are too wet and snow falls down the back of her neck. This is not the day she planned. And then Lulu remembers that she is Ladybug Girl and Ladybug Girl can do anything! With another determined look at the snow, Ladybug Girl overcomes her frustration and sees the yard in a whole new light. She and Bingo are now ready to use their imaginations to create their own snow games, snow animals, and snow adventures!

Review: Lulu, aka Ladybug Girl, is one of those strong, determined characters that make excellent role models for our daughters.  She does run around sporting a sparkly tutu and wings, but that’s not because she’s a fairy princess!  The Ladybug Girl books are all about adventure, individuality, and problem solving…and we can’t have too much of that in books for young girls!

texas night before

Texas Night Before Christmas by James Rice

Summary: With a team of Longhorns, Santa arrives at a sod shanty and drops down the chimney to fill the younguns’ boots with toys.

Review: No reindeer here!  It takes longhorns to haul Santa to the homes of cowboys across Texas.  This book parallels the classic poem with some added Texas flair.  Y’all be sure to read it out loud in your best cowboy voice.




stranger in the woodsStranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl Sams

Summary: Winner of numerous awards, including the 2001 International Reading Association’s highest honour, this charming tale uses wildlife photography to tell the story of animals’ reactions to a snowman who appears in the woods after a winter storm.

Review: This book is quickly becoming a classic for many reasons.  On the surface, its beautiful snowy photographs are enticing for children and adults alike.  For young readers, the photographs introduce them to wild animals that most of us never get to see in their natural habitats.  Older readers will enjoy finding clues in the photographs and discovering just how that mysterious snowman appeared in the woods.  A beautiful addition to any home library!


 jolly christmas postmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allen Ahlberg

Summary: Follows the postman from door to door as he delivers Christmas cards and other surprises to familiar figures such as Red Riding Hood and Humpty Dumpty, and presents pockets holding the actual cards and other deliveries–including a puzzle–that shape the story.

Review: Younger children will love seeing familiar fairy tale characters and pulling surprises out of the envelopes on each page.  Older children will laugh at the twists on the traditional fairytales, like the board game teaching how to spot a Big Bad Wolf in disguise.  And everyone will love seeing Santa at the end of the book!


pete christmasPete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin

‘Twas the day before Christmas and Santa was ill.
In the cold winter wind he had caught a bad chill.
Will Christmas be canceled? Will it come to that?
“Never!” cried Santa. “Let’s call Pete the Cat!”

In this rockin’ new spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do.

Review: I’ve raved about Pete the Cat before and I’ll do it again: Pete is one groovy cat!  Written as a poem similar to “The Night Before Christmas”, this book shows that no matter how small, everyone can help if they give it their all.  Don’t forget about your free download of the song and video!


moosletoeMoosletoe by Margie Palatini

Summary: Moose thinks he has all his Christmas preparations taken care of, but at the last minute he must come up with a substitute for the Christmas tree.

Review: Ever had a day when you exhausted yourself trying to make everything “perfectly perfect” but fell just a little big short?  Moose has lists upon lists of things to do to make this Christmas “perfectly perfect” but realizes too late that he forgot an important detail: the Christmas tree!  But instead of letting Christmas be ruined, he comes up with a very creative solution which makes his family happier than any big green tree could have.  Mooseltoe reminds us that Christmas isn’t about stuff or fancy decorations,  but about sharing and spending time with family and friends.


mr. willowbyMr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Summary:  Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree came by special delivery. Full and fresh and glistening green–The biggest tree he’d ever seen.  That was the trouble. The tree was so tall, it couldn’t stand up straight in his parlor. Mr. Willowby asked his butler to chop off the top of the tree. What happens to the treetop? Where will it be for Christmas? Snuggle up with this story and follow along through a forest full of friendly creatures who get to share in a bit of Christmas joy.

Review: Mr. Willowby is a wealthy many who buys a large expensive Christmas tree.  He chops off and throws out the too-tall top, thinking it of no use to anyone.  Characters in this story continue finding a use for a discarded tree top until it becomes so tiny it’s a perfect fit for a mouse’s home.  This story is a great way to bring up the idea of sharing our blessed surplus with others who have little this holiday season.


otisAn Otis Christmas by Loren Long

Summary: On Christmas Eve at the farm, a horse faces complications while delivering her foal and Otis the tractor must race through snowy, treacherous woods to bring back Doc Baker before it is too late.

Review: This is one of those feel good, warm fuzzy Christmas stories about friendship, love, and helping others.  Even though Otis is scared to go out in the blizzard, he knows that he is the only one who can get through the impassable roads to help his friend.  You’ll also love the gorgeous illustrations!


Bonus video!  How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a wonderful book, but because of the length and the complex language it’s sometimes hard for little ones to follow.  In this video an artist illustrates the story as it’s read by a fantastic narrator, helping us see the story in a unique way.

What are your favorite holiday books that are considered classics in your family?

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2 Responses to Ten (not quite) Classic Holiday Books

  1. Katie December 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    That’s so cool Sarah! I’ll have to look at the pictures extra carefully now 🙂 I love all the Snowmen books and read them every year to my kids in the library.

  2. Sarah R. December 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    We love Snowmen at Night. We actually used to be neighbors with the Buehners, and I love to look at the pictures, because it’s our old neighborhood! We also really love the Pirates Night Before Christmas.