I love reading holiday books with kids--not only do I feel like I'm creating memories for my storytime kids, but it also brings me a certain amount of nostalgia for my own childhood. I tend to select my storytime books to reflect the spirit of our various winter holidays to create a sense of celebration for children that draws from many cultures, traditions, and nature. I enjoy incorporating songs, fingerplays, and of course books that make the end-of-the year celebrations magical. Therefore, I want to share with you some of my favorite "magical" books for the holiday season. I also should mention that I've specifically listed books in our Westbank collection, so all of these items will be in our catalog. At Westbank Libraries, we put the majority of our holiday books in Non-Fiction. Thus, if you are searching for a Halloween book, the call number will begin J 394.2. The second line will be HAL (for Halloween) and the last line will be the beginning of the author's last name. If you want a Christmas book, it will be under 394.2 CHR, etc. However, do look in the regular picture book collection for holiday stories about your favorite characters like Curious George, Thomas the Train or Dora the Explorer.
Now onto books!
My absolute favorite Halloween book is Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies by Mark Kimball Moulton. The writing is in rhyme and the illustrations by Karen Hillard Good are stunning. In fact, this duo has two other very delightful holiday books, one for Halloween and one for Christmas: The Very Best Pumpkin and Reindeer Christmas. I recommend these as permanent additions to your own collection or as gifts.
One of my favorite children's authors is Margie Palatini. I absolutely love all her books, but for now I want to mention one that is not quite a Halloween book, but does feature a witch. This is a good choice for families who don't want to focus as much on Halloween, but who want a story that nods a head toward the holiday. Gritch the Witch is craving some Piggie Pie (book of the same name) and this story is her not-so-successful quest to find it. It is adorable. Palatini also had two Christmas books: Mooseltoe and Three French Hens.
There are a few books that don't mention our holidays at all, but that I love to read at this time of year because of their spirit of selflessness, thankfulness and sharing. One is Rabbit's Gift, by George Shannon which is a wonderful Chinese Folktale with beautiful illustrations that evoke winter and caring, and as such I normally read this near Christmas. I also love Gracias=Thanks by Pat Mora. This is the story of a young multiracial boy who celebrates family, friendship, and fun by telling about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful. I like to read this at Thanksgiving. The nice thing about this title is it is English and Spanish. (You might also want to try A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Mora which describes Latin American traditions surrounding the Christmas holidays.) I also like Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; this is a charming, yet genius, book that takes a chocolate chip cookie to illustrate such big concepts as compassion and honesty to our children.
And now, I'll just list a few more of my favorite books for each Holiday.
- The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis (to be replaced soon)
- Pumpkin Heads by Wendell Minor
- The Witches' Supermarket by Susan Meddaugh
- The Lonely Scarecrow by Tim Preston (not quite a Halloween book but great for the fall!)
- One is a Feast for a Mouse by Judy Cox
- The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli
- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson
- Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie B. Friedman
- Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
- Christmas Cookies: Bite-Sized Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
- Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
- Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
- My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel