By Tracey Dowdy
December 1st ushers in a month of holiday celebrations. Some are familiar – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza – while others are a little more obscure, appealing to a, shall we say niche audience. I’m looking at you National Llama Day and National Bouillabaisse Day.
With screen time for our kids at an all-time high, alternatives that provide a break, entertain, and dare I say, perhaps even educate, are a great idea. That’s where good old fashioned reading comes in. Here’s a list of books to get you and your littles through December’s snow days, meltdowns, bedtimes, and lazy afternoons on the couch.
Llama Llama Holiday Drama – Anna Dewdney Llama Llama doesn’t like waiting. He and Mama Llama rush around, shopping for presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree . . . yet Christmas seems to be so far away! But, a cuddle from Mama Llama calms and reminds our favorite little llama that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”
The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever – Stephen Kroll In the latest installment of this beloved series, Clayton the town mouse and Desmond the country mouse team up to bring the spirit of Christmas to Mouseville-in a big way. Who will find the biggest tree?
Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale – Eric A. Kimmel Kimmel, author of the Caldecott winning Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, weaves a charming and imaginative Hanukkah tale that celebrates eight miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love.
The Story of Kwanzaa – Donna L. Washington From ancestors in Africa to slavery and the civil rights movement, Washington walks us through the the history leading up to the creation of Kwanzaa. Her captivating text is accompanied by gorgeous photographs of contemporary African fabrics and mixed-media illustrations. The book includes activities like how to make your own cow-tail switch and recipes for benne cakes.
The Crayons’ Christmas – Drew Daywalt ‘Tis the season for writing out those holiday wishlists! But everyone–even the crayons–knows that the best presents are the ones you receive but those ones that you give. Duncan and his friends – including beige crayon who’s now allergic to gluten from coloring too much wheat and gray crayon, who’s celebrating Hanukkah – share how they celebrate the holidays. The book is clever, witty, and includes real letters from the Crayons that kids can remove from their envelopes to read, plus games, punch-out ornaments, a poster, and even a pop-up tree.
Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever – Matt Tavares Rudolph may get all the attention, but that doesn’t mean the other reindeer don’t have a tale to tell! Meet Dasher, a spunky reindeer whose dreams of a different life come true when she meets Santa. Fun fact: Only female reindeer still have antlers at Christmas; the males of the species shed their headgear before mid-December, so, all Santa’s reindeer are actually girls!
There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! – Lucille Colandro Both books are a joyful, rollicking, sleigh ride through rhymes, funny illustrations, and have endings that will have your little ones giggling again and again. It’s a holiday spin on the classic “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe…” that’s sure to become a family favorite.
It’s Christmas, David!- David Shannon David – star of the David books – is back and just trying to make it through ‘til Christmas without ending up on the naughty list. From resisting the temptation to peek at his presents to waiting in an endless line to see Santa, David’s all-too-familiar antics will have your kids laughing out loud.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.