It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Or, if you are like me, it’s the most stressful time of the year!
I want to know who these people are who can have their homes decorated by December 1st. HOW do they do it? My goal was the 1st. Alas, the tree wasn’t up and finished until the 12th. And my tree, I mean trees. My husband and I are both fiercely passionate about our Christmas trees. I insist on a real, lovely scented, sticky sap and prickly-needled tree. He insists on a fake tree. Our compromise? Two trees. But this means twice the work and twice the decorating.
Also, have you strung lights on a real tree with a preschooler and toddler at your feet? It seriously took me days. My son is going to have such heartwarming memories of decorating the tree with his mama. “I SAID STOP! Don’t put that ornament there! That’s breakable don’t touch! GO SIT ON THE COUCH AND JUST WATCH!” Ah, the magic is palpable.
We wanted to create this little wooded Christmas wonderland for them (which we did) and I wanted to sit on our cozy couch and read Christmas books (which we do). Is it too much to ask that they just enjoy and stop touching things? Yes. Yes it is too much. This is why there are few ornaments on the bottom third on the tree.
Back to my reading on the couch. What books am I reading you wonder?
Grap a cuppa and I shall regale you with my current top ten reads for the season.
by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry
Little Blue Truck books are always a hit with the preschool age and the Christmas one is no different. Little Blue delivers Christmas trees to all of his friends. There is one left over at the end for Blue and this is the page that you child will want to see again and again.
By Nicola Killen
I love this book! It came out in 2016 and is such a lovely addition to a Christmas library.
A little girl named Ollie (wearing a reindeer costume) hears magical bells on Christmas Eve. She ventures out to find where the sound is coming from and meets a new friends: one of Santa’s reindeer. He takes her for a magical flight before returning her home so she can sleep and he can fly Santa’s Sleigh.
It’s a very sweet story with such lovely illustrations that are all in monochrome save for little bits of red complete with texture for your little reader to feel.
As sung by Peggy Lee and illustrated by Tim Hopgood
This is one of my favourite Christmas songs that I can’t help but sing when the ground is covered in snow.
Hopgood’s illustrations are fabulous as a family explores a forest draped in snow. It’s just hard not to sing at your child when they as you to read it.
By Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
We all know this cheeky little mouse that always leads the little boy on a grand adventure after one simple act.
This Christmas edition starts with taking a mouse to the movies and getting him popcorn. It leads to making a garland, decorating a Christmas tree, making a snowmouse, crafting some ornaments, getting more popcorn and, of course, going back to the movies.
I am trying to make a popcorn garland with George but he keeps eating it!
Well, so do I.
And so do my dogs.
By Jan Brett
You would recognize Jan Brett from ‘The Mitten’ – her illustrations are intricate and beautiful.
She has a few Christmas books out but this is the only one simple and short enough to keep the three-year old’s attention. It’s also the second about Gingerbread Baby (but I have yet to locate a copy).
The little boy Matti and Gingerbread Baby (this part is weird – why is it a baby?) bake a gingerbread band to play at the Christmas Festival. Matti’s baked band plays beautiful music at the festival that delights everyone until a little girl realizes the cookies are real and she wants to eat them. Matti and Gingerbread Baby must hide the band from the villagers who want to devour the gingerbread.
So yes, it does take a bizarre turn. But try to read this and not want to fly off to some Alp village and eat gingerbread.
By Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
This is another return character/book on this list. George has me read this endlessly so I couldn’t not include it. The naughty duck is at it again at Farmer Brown’s farm. He gets stuck trying to go down the chimney on Christmas Eve. All the animals try to unstuck the duck, but the only one who can unstuck all the farm animals is Santa.
We love all these books and the colourful farm animals. Now she just needs an Easter one and we’ve got our holidays covered.
By Mary Englebreit
I have loved Mary Englebreit since I was a 14-year old girl who also loved Anne Geddes and Kermit the Frog (I was a very young 14-year old).
If you are not familiar with her art – she is very detailed, whimsical and sweet. Therefore this Christmas book is absolutely perfect for little people. A mouse family gets ready for Christmas with the alphabet and each page is colourful, bright and full of such fun whimsy that you might make it through only half the alphabet (or maybe that is just us).
Illustrations by Greg Pizzoli
This is not one of my most favourite carols – I think because I can never remember the order past five golden rings. Over the past few years, I have come to love it more (thank you to the TSO who does a fabulous version of this song every couple of years) and I really enjoy Pizzoli’s take on the classic.
I discovered his work this summer with “The Watermelon Seed” and was happy to see the alligator make a cameo in this book.
A little elephant is giving his true love all the gifts of the song, much to the chagrin of the recipients mother. She has to buy bulk bird seed afterall!
It’s really fun and we like to find all the characters on each page (the French hens are easy: they wear berets).
Another one that is hard not to sing instead of read.
By Stephanie Stansbie and Anette Heiberg
This book was given to us by a friend and I know nothing of Jelly Bear. But this is a fantastic book for little people because the characters are cute and there are so many flaps and pop-up surprises. It’s a good one to have for a break of reading this list for you to sip mulled wine and let your child read to themselves.
By James Dean and Eric Litwin
And yet another repeat character/book for you to find. Pete the Cat is just a fun little character. This one isn’t written by James Dean so it’s a bit different but Pete is still a cool cat who helps Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Poor Santa has a terrible cold and Pete must deliver all the presents. Pete, being Pete, does not do it in a sleigh but a vintage Volkswagen minivan.
The story involves a song about giving that I try to sing. It does not go well.
By Patricia Toht and Jarvis
I absolutely love how this book is illustrated: all vintagey and softly colourful. It’s the story of a (biracial!) family picking out their tree at the tree lot (hooray for the tree lot! Every year I say we should go to the tree farm but every year I get lazy and go to our wonderful tree lot that delivers our tree) and taking it home to decorate.
They dig out bulging boxes and rusty tins of ornaments (the day after I read this book, my mum sent me a big box of old ornaments – some of which were tucked into a tin box!), invite friends over, put up lights and turn the tree from pine to a Christmas tree.
I’m hoping to get another list to you by next week but with the current chaos that is my life, my kids alone, mixed with the realization I have one week left to buy a turkey, all the trimmings, stocking stuffers, a present for my husband and get the house ready for guests – this may not happen. Make sure to follow me on for more book ideas: Instagram: Curious in Wonderland
I will leave you with another favourite of mine this season: Emily Arrow. Do you know her? She is a fabulous children’s singer who brings music to great kids books. She has just released a Christmas/winter album and we love it! If you don’t have it – get it now. I promise the songs won’t wake you up in the night with annoying lyrics running in your head.
As always, I wish you happy reading and happy holidays!