Christmas time is lavishly rich with traditions. There are some many scenes, scents, colors, and things that must be there for it to feel like Christmas. The favorited stories, like “The Nutcracker” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Decadent treats and goodies we simply have to bake. Festive pajamas we always receive Christmas Eve. The annual trip to the city to see a theatrical of “A Christmas Carol.”
There are traditions unique to each family, and others shared the world over. Often passed down from one generation to the next, they are a heritage that we fondly welcome each December. Some are founded with deep historical meaning and others in whimsical delight.
Here is a list of my top traditional and historical Christmas books. Some are timeless, holiday classics and others share the significance of the traditions we so love. Enjoy!
Book Overview: A vivid and powerful reminder of what really matters, not just at Christmas, but all throughout the year. That it is people that are important and forefront to everything else. Not wars; or to bring it even closer to home, nor things or schedules, or getting Christmas dinner just so – none of it is worth it if through our stress, or busyness or frustration it causes us to jeopardize our relationships. If soldiers can lay down arms, we can smile at the post office worker after standing in line for twenty-five minutes, or say hello to the cashier at the crowded grocery store, ask a stranger how they’re enjoying their holiday and laugh with our children though it set back dinner time a little.
This book captures a wonderful moment in history. Ages: 8 – 12
Book Overview: This edition is as deliciously exquisite as the play! I’d recommend this one over many others as the artwork is incredibly eye-appealing and delightfully enchanting.
(Note: If you don’t mind books that have push buttons to play music, I’d say there’s an even better version you should get as it plays Tchaikovsky’s glorious music. As you turn each page, you can push a button that will play the corresponding music to that part of the story. It’s entitled: The Nutcracker: Press the Note to Hear Tchaikovsky’s Music (The Story Orchestra)). Ages: 4 – 10
Book Overview: This is a phenomenal retelling of how the classic Christmas carol, Silent Night, came to be. Though full of facts, it is masterfully told in story-form. The music and it’s lyrics take on strong meaning when you know the history of their creation. I see it’s pricey on Amazon but I highly recommend getting this book! Ages: 5 – 12
Book Overview: This delightful book takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. Head to the Philippines, where children leave out puto seko cookies and ginger tea for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie; then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you’ve returned home, the journey’s still not over—M. E. Furman provides recipes for children to bake some of Santa’s cookies for themselves. Ages: 4 – 8
Book Overview: This is such a classic Christmas tale, I don’t know how you can get around not reading it. It’s tender and sentimental … so keep a tissue handy. And just look at that cover! Inside is even more magical.
When the Velveteen Rabbit first arrives in the nursery, he is snubbed by the other toys. But the Rabbit soon makes friends with the Skin Horse, who explains how toys can become “real” if they are loved enough. The Velveteen Rabbit longs for this to happen, and one day he finds that he has become the Boy’s very favorite toy. Ages: 4 – 8
Book Overview: Written in 1939, you can’t get much more classic than the tale of Rudolph! And it’s the *real* tale of Rudolph. Perhaps you already knew this, but I was surprised to discover that the traditional claymation movie doesn’t follow the story. I’ve been fed an alternate reality since my youth. Ah! *wink* So I’m glad I read this – and I know you’ll enjoy it (and knowing the truth) too.
This version is the best as it’s a replication of the original booklet that came out in 1939. The pictures on every page possess that old-school charm. Ages: 4 – 9
Book Overview: If you’re wishing for a version with old-fashioned warmth and charm, this one is it! I positively adore the illustrations – they remind me of the old greeting cards my aunt saved over the years and then used to make garlands that she hung around her home.
In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote The Night before Christmas for his own children. Now, of course, his poem is read aloud to children around the world who are anticipating Santa’s arrival.
This Christmas Eve tradition calls for the treat of Julie Downing’s wondrous visual rendition. Her jewel-toned watercolors, vibrant with rich Victorian detail, contain little surprises all along the way. Both children and grown-ups will respond to this enchanting, holiday favorite. Ages: 4+
Book Overview: The astounding talent of Laurel Long brings this beloved song to life with breathtaking style. Set against a lush countryside, each day brings a new gift elegantly rendered. And like in the verses of the song, the previous gifts are repeated in every illustration, giving this striking artwork a hidden aspect, culminating in a staggering spread featuring them all. Readers will pore over every page, searching for golden rings, turtledoves, and all the rest, secretly tucked into each stunning painting. Ages: 4 – 10