Favorite Christmas Books

Ruby and I had our first sleep-over last night. She has spent the night along with her sister before, but this time it was just Ruby all by herself. Wow! One grandchild at a time is a lot different than seven all at once — just like when our kids were all little. Back then , I started taking just one child out at a time, all by himself, for hot chocolate or ice cream, or even just for a walk.

So Ruby spent the night. We made a gingerbread house (except I was way too timid to use actual gingerbread, and just “glued” some graham crackers together with frosting). We worked on secret Christmas presents, watched “Frosty the Snowman” (actually I fell asleep during it 🙁 ), ate peppermint ice cream with a chocolate kiss planted on top, worked our way through a stack of Christmas books, and slept on the living room floor next to the Christmas tree (well, Ruby eventually slept).

Only one disappointment — I couldn’t find one of my all-time favorite Christmas books to read together! The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is missing! I love this story of a mama’s love and sacrifice. I may have to buy another copy, because this is just part of Christmas to me!

One of our family traditions started when John and I were first married. We were so broke our first year of marriage that we picked out one used book at a bookstore and gave it to each other for our Christmas present. (I’m sure I must have made some other things, but I don’t remember what they were.) Every year since then we have bought one children’s Christmas picture book.

I would like to share a few of the favorites from our collection over the years.

First, our hands-down, all-time favorite read-aloud Christmas book is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. We didn’t pick this out as a family, and it isn’t a picture book, but I’ve been reading this every year since I was in college (and yes, that was a long time ago). We have so many family idioms that originated from this story! It’s a great read-aloud, full of humor, but also full of meaning. We can’t read it without me getting goose-bumps, and I can remember a few years when John broke down in tears at the book’s climax. If you’ve only seen the movie, you need to read the book. It’s so much better.

OK, here’s a quick sampling of a few of our favorites:

Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl S. Buck, and beautifully illustrated by Mark Buehner. Another sweet story that makes me cry.

Peter Spier’s Christmas! A great picture book with so much to look at, and no text.

The Friendly Beasts, with Tomie dePaola’s wonderful illustrations. This has been a favorite since our oldest was a baby, especially if we sing the words (it’s based on the old English Christmas carol).

A Small Miracle, another wordless favorite, illustrated by Peter Collington. My adult children were re-discovering this one during our St. Nicholas celebration. A rich and winsome story, all told with only pictures. One of my favorites.

Silent Night, illustrated by Susan Jeffers. This one brings the old carol to life with exquisite illustrations.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski. A beautifully illustrated story of the power of love in a lonely man’s life.

The Gift of the Magi, the classic O. Henry short story, illustrated by P. J. Lynch

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate. A board book with a story that centers around the stable. Good, not kitschy, illustrations, which is sometimes hard to find in board books.

The Very First Christmas, by Paul E. Maier, which I see is also mysteriously missing on our shelf.

I think we’re going to  have to go up into the attic and find a missing box of books! I have grandchildren to read to!

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