My plan for today was to post a picture of all the books I got for Christmas – a brilliant and almost effortless idea that was especially perfect because by the evening of the 25th, I was taken down by a sore throat. I really needed a holiday post that required as little energy as possible. Unfortunately (and unexpectedly), I received only one book this year – an excellent yoga guide – and no matter what angle I took the picture from, one book does not a glorious pile make.
So I’m improvising, and on cold medicine, which means expectations should remain low…Unless, of course, you love children’s Christmas books as much as I do, in which case, read on to see which ones I neurotically reread every holiday season:
Christmas in Noisy Village, Astrid Lindgren and Ilon Wikland – My all-time favorite of favorites, this book just feels like home to me. Every time I read it, I remember the chest my grandmother kept it in, and how she would pull it out for me to read whenever I asked for it, even in the middle of summer. I will never be able to read it without remembering her and all the wonderful times we had together.
The Christmas Stranger, Marjorie Thayer and Don Freeman – This was longest Christmas book we owned when I was a child that could technically qualify as a picture book, although it was as long as some chapter books. My dad read it to me tirelessly every night during the holiday season year after year, and I am eternally grateful to him for his patience and love, because if it were me, I might have hidden in it or burned it or tossed it down the deepest well I could find. It’s a great story, and beautifully told, but really, he was a champion.
The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg – What am I, a monster? Of course this made the list. Seriously though, I love all of his books passionately. His stories are simple and elegant, and the illustrations are always stunning. I will never forgive Hollywood for making a terrible movie out of this book, destroying it for generations of unsuspecting children.
The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry and Lisbeth Zwerger – A family favorite, this is a classic story illustrated fabulously with Zwerger’s watercolor images. If you aren’t familiar with the tale, I highly recommend it for its graceful appreciation of the holiday spirit, and if you are, then I say you haven’t really enjoyed it until you’ve seen this version.
The Christmas Cat, Isabelle Holland and Kathy Mitchell – This is actually a pretty hokey story about a cat who convinces a dog and a donkey to follow the star to see the baby born in a manger. When I made my husband read it a few years ago, he looked at me like I was a crazy person for calling it a classic, but what can I say? Sometimes we find books at just the right age, and for whatever reason, we fall in love. Quality not withstanding, I always seek this book out to read by the fire when I come back for the holidays.