Christmas, Solstice & Hannukah, Family life

Beloved books for December

 

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Detail from “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Tis the season for slow mornings and cozy evenings, for rich stories and deep dreaming. Here are a few of our family’s favourite books for this sweet season:

For babies, toddlers and kids up to five years old (and, of course, beyond):

Winter by Gerda Muller. Wordless, wintery wonder!

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The beauty and curiosity of an ordinary day.

Red is Best by Kathy Stinson. Always a hit for those who like to dress themselves!

Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes. Alfie’s experiences as a three or four year-old person are told always with respect, care and attention — and this holiday story is no different.

Almost a Full Moon by Hawksley Workman. A sweet song turned into a gorgeous picture book, rich with themes of generosity, community, and sharing the harvest.

The Tale of Baboushka by Elena Pasquali. This has been Sage’s favourite for a few years running.

Night Tree by Eve Bunting. A family heads out after dark, to prepare a happy surprise in the forest. A classic.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis. One of today’s most amazing illustrators teamed up with a classic poem by an award-winning children’s author.

Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle. The harvest season is over and the farmers are preparing the land for its long winter’s nap. The illustrations in this one are really worth seeing.

For six years and up:

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. A classic story of Christmas past written with the voice of a poet, here beautifully illustrated by one of the best: Trina Schart Hyman (who also illustrated the next book).

Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins by Eric Kimmel. Jasper’s forest school leader has made a tradition of reading this story in December, and every time the kids have raved about it on the carpool home. A trickster hero versus the King of Goblins on the eighth night of Hannukah? The kids are here for it.

Fireside Stories: Tales for a Winter’s Eve – a collection of stories, matched to the season from Samhain through to the start of spring, this book is full of depth and wonder.

A Small Miracle by Peter Collington. No words, just beautiful illustrations telling a story of generosity and care. This is one my kids return to over and over for some quiet moments of simply looking.

Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets. This 1960 Caldecott Prize winner tells of a Mexican girl’s beautiful, ordinary days of excitement and anticipation leading up to her first posada. A longish book, requested over and over.

A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King. A very funny story with great illustrations that pokes fun at mall-centric celebrations, from an Indigenous perspective.

Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean Penziwol.  Dreamy, contemplative quiet. Perfect for winter nights well beyond the holiday season.

 

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