Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

January 4, 2012

Christmas Books

Before putting the Christmas books away until next year I had Katie type up a list of the books that were all wrapped up and opened one day at a time from December 1 through December 24. Some of them are very old (and harder to find or expensive) and others were found at thrift stores or are part of Chris or my childhood collection. Some are meaningful and rich and others are just silly and fun. I like having a combination of the two.

These aren’t in any particular order and I’ve included links when possible. Now is probably a really great time to collect some books for next year if you’re interested in starting this tradition. 22 of the 24 are included as two of them are currently hiding somewhere in the house.

1. Dream Snow by Erica Carle | Love anything Eric Carle.

2. A Ghost Tale for Christmas by Mary Pope Orsborne | This one was more for Simon (a new addition this year). He didn’t read it :) . He was into reading the new Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and that was totally fine with me. Might be of more interest to him next year.

3. Fisher Price Little People Christmastime Is Here!: Lift the Flap (Fisher Price Lift the Flap)| This one has been around awhile but both kids still love looking at it and peeking under all the flaps.

4. OLIVIA Claus | A favorite of Anna’s.

5. Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkein | This is one of my personal favorites. Just magical.

6. Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

7. Babar and Father Christmas by Jean De Brunhoff

8. Santa Calls by William Joyce

9. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold

10. The Animals’ Merry Christmas by Richard Scarry

11. The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffman and Maurice Sendak | I have a special story that goes along with this book that I didn’t actually realize until Anna and I were looking at it this year. When I was seven or eight (1983 or so) I went to see The Nutcracker in Seattle at The Pacific Northwest Ballet. As I looked through this book this year (which I think I bought as an adult but I’m not sure now) I realized that this was the Maurice Sendak (author/illustrator of Where The Wild Things Are) and that he had been commissioned to make the sets for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker during the time I saw it. In looking through the book I knew those sets. I remembered the images. So many things collided together for me as I flipped through those pages. This one is not a little kid’s Nutcracker book – it’s big and heavy and in-depth and awesome. And if you like Maurice Sendak there was a really great interview with him on Fresh Air earlier this year that is totally worth your time.

12. The Nutcracker by Gaby Goldsack | This is a very simplified version of the nutcracker story. It was just right for introducing Anna to the story before we went to the ballet but I might be on the lookout for a different version that’s between this one and the one above.

13. The Night Before Christmas with Jan Brett | Amazing illustrations.

14. Elmo’s 12 Days of Christmas | This one will likely be phased out (not sure about that yet).

15. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg | Classic.

16. Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri

17. The Sweet Smell of Christmas (Scented Storybook) by Patricia M. Scarry

18. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff

19. Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury | This book includes a few different stories. Again, Jan Brett’s illustrations are amazing.

20. Little Critter: Just a Snowman by Mercer Mayer

21. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg | This was a new one for our family this year and it was an instant favorite. Lots of things to pull out and read. Great story.

22. Disney’s Merry Christmas Carols | Couldn’t find a source for this one – it’s a Little Golden Book.

23. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

We also received two new books this year form a friend in New Zealand – super fun additions to our collection: A Kiwi Jingle Bells and A Kiwi before Christmas both by Yvonne Morrison and Deborah Hinde.

I’d also highly recommend checking out Amanda Soule’s post on her family’s Winter Reading Favorites. Some of my favorites in our collection came from her list – and looking at it now it’s totally possible that I ordered the Maurice Sendak Nutcracker book after reading about it on her blog back in 2007.


  • 1.
    Janine said…

    Hi Ali,
    I have somewhat of a strange request but you never now unless you ask. I do not have Photoshop am I able to still use the December daily overlays that have the date on right hand corner? If not is there any chance I can purchase them already printed and then I can just add my photos?

    • ….
      Barb C said…

      The overlays also come with a PDF version that you can print from Adobe Acrobat Reader.

  • 2.
    Shayne said…

    What a wonderful idea – I am definately going to do this in 2012. It’s a great way to start a Christmas Book Collection full of memories!

  • 3.
    Abbie said…

    great collection!
    We love the Jolly Christmas Postman at our house each Christmas. It’s fun to see that one on your list.

    When your kids get older, you might want to consider adding The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Great, old fashioned story about sacrificial giving.

    Also, my kids love listening to books on tape. We’ve found a good audio version of the Nutcracker free online. They enjoy it. It’s a great reminder of the storyline before we go to the ballet.

    Another audio story that’s set in winter from Storynory is The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s a classic, but can seem a bit intense for little ones.

    Happy new year, Ali! I haven’t commented on your beautiful December Daily pages over the last few weeks, but I’ve loved them! One of these days I’m going to start that tradition myself. What an amazing keepsake.

    Take care.

    • ….
      Pilbars Pink said…

      Oh my, I had forgotten all about the Jolly Christmas Postman. our daughter had the original Jolly Pocket Postman book and I was so excited when I found the Christmas one. She is 26 later this month yet I remember that book as if I read it yesterday :)

  • 4.
    Abbie said…

    Here’s the Snow Queen link

  • 5.
    Abbie said…

    Oh, one more Christmas book that we love…..

    Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

  • 6.
    Sandi said…

    I loved this idea of wrapping up the books. I was going to do it this year but when I counted my books I only had 12. I knew I could not go out and buy the remaining in one month. I will buy one book a month this year in preparation for next year. Thanks for the great idea.

    • ….
      Yolanda said…

      Other things to consider: (1) Not every book has to be Christmas-related. Books about winter or seasons work great, too. (2) Consider wrapping library books, especially of the budget is tight. Most libraries rent for at least two weeks & allow you to renew. This is a great way to bring in unique books without having to turn “shopping for Christmas books” into a chore. (3) Know that you don’t have to have 24 holiday books on hand the very first year you start this tradition, especially if your child is very young. You can always buy a couple a year and gradually build up to a full set. (4) Buy used. Thrift stores are teeming with children’s holiday books almost all year long. Easy, inexpensive way to build the collection.

  • 7.
    dnobles said…

    I found some of these books on eBay this year….and Amazon used books often has older books available. Love the books that span generations.

  • 8.
    Denise said…

    Thanks for the list, Ali! We came up about 8 short this year, (even after thrifting a few!) so, I picked them up from the library. Our check-out time is 3 weeks, so I was able to wrap them and add them to our basket without a problem! I have wanted to do this for the last couple of years, and am so glad I took the time to do it this year. My kids 5 & 3 were SO into it!! :)

  • 9.
    Kate said…

    A book I fell in love with when I read it (even before having kids) is My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, with awesome illustrations by H.B. Lewis. It is a sweet story infused with a bit of humor.

    On a Side note, I would just like to thank you Ali for bringing the December Daily project to us and allowing us to view others work. I have really enjoyed seeing not only how others approach their memory keeping, but also seeing how others celebrate the season. So Awesome, thank you!

  • 10.
    Janet K said…

    I LOVE this list…even though I don’t have kids, I have alway’s been a fan of kid’s books…this is such a great idea. A client of mine gave me an old, children’s copy of A Chritmas Carol this year. She suggested that it start a collection of different copies of the same story. I thought it was a great idea.

  • 11.
    Cathy S said…

    One of my favorite books is A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown. It’s full of sensory details, sound and smell especially.

  • 12.
    Peggy said…

    We have the some of the same books. My 8 year old has to read 15 minutes every day. I don’t wrap my books I just have them on this cool sleighbut for the month of December every night my sunray one of those books. My oldest is 11 so she really wasn’t reading those although she did want to hear twas the night before Christmas on Christmas Eve

    Thanks for sharing.

  • 13.
    Dawn Cheshire said…

    Thank you so much for sharing your list, I tried the idea this year and although we didn’t do the full 24 days we did enjoy what we did. Next year I plan on being a little more organised so will add some of these to my library wish list now!

  • 14.
    Kathy (kathyb) said…

    We enjoyed ” Harry and the dinosaurs make a Christmas wish” this year.

  • 15.
    Lisa W. said…

    Ahhhhhhhhh just love this post. My babies are no longer big for these Christmas books but no matter. I will treasure this idea and start a collection when the grandkids arrive some day:) I ALWAYS buy my daughter a book every year for Christmas! Thanks Ali for again a wonderful post!!!

  • 16.
    Katie said…

    I did this new tradition with my family this year too. Granted my son turned 1 on 12/31, but he did enjoy drinking his milk and looking at the pictures before bed each night. We actually have a few of the same books that are on your list. I can’t wait until next Christmas to see how he reacts to these stories!

  • 17.
    Sherry Eckblad said…

    What a great collection of books! We love Olivia Claus.

  • 18.
    Marsaille said…

    An idea that people have forgotten is that you can always borrow from the library. Our little library check-out is for 3 weeks! And then you can renew! Thank you for the Nutcracker link. I was going to ask, but didn’t want to bother you with it. I too have the Maurice Sendak version, which is too much for my 4 year old to follow (although we saw the ballet on TV, and she too got excited about the sets). Love Maurice Sendak, thanks for the Fresh Air link. We will be wrapping them next year. I don’t think we got much past Bear Stays Up and The Grinch this year. Hopefully with wrapping them we will get some more variety.

  • 19.
    Amy Z said…

    Elmo’s 12 Days of Christmas was phased out in our house after the first time I read it! It was exhausting! LOL!!

  • 20.
    Julie in Edmonds said…

    What a lovely idea!

  • 21.
    elinjanne said…

    Thanks for sharing this. I love the idea of collecting 24 books for next Christmas and now is a good time:)
    But – do the kids use them or is it too much? I have a picture in my head of 24 books all over the house:)

  • 22.
    Erin said…

    I am so glad you got “Santa Calls”. I know it will always be one of my favorites. Next year, you should get the book “The Story of Holly and Ivy” for Anna. I know you too will love reading it together. It’s a beautiful story with gorgeous illustrations. You should also consider “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”. It is a beautiful book that captures the spirit of the season.

    Getting out the Christmas books is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas time. You had some great titles and some I have not seen before. I’ll have to add them to my list. Every year we give the kids a new Christmas book on St. Nick’s Day so I’m always looking for new titles.

  • 23.
    Melissa said…

    Some of my favorites you might be interested in adding to your collection are:
    This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
    Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki and Ivan Gantschev
    The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson
    The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg and James Bernardin
    The Christmas Star by Marcus Pfister

  • 24.
    Diane said…

    I was really excited by your “Christmas book a day” when you first posted it and love how it both promotes reading and quiet family time. One of our favorite Christmas books here in Sweden is “Findus at Christmas” both because of its sweet story and the marvelous job the illustrator does of hiding details in the pages to be discovered when one rereads the story.

  • 25.
    Lisa said…

    Thanks for sharing your book list. You inspired me to try this too and we loved it. It’s fun to see which of our books overlapped. I had the Elmo book in my collection, but didn’t find it until after we wrapped all the books. I found thAt it was a gift to me from my mother-in-law the year I met my husband. However, I was hoarse by the time is finished reading it to Colin this year!

  • 26.
    Rachael S. said…

    I would love to recommend a book I discovered this season and LOVE. The pictures are gorgeous and the story is so sweet.

    My friend’s daughter received a signed copy from her Aunt. The couple responsible for the work is from Michigan, where my friend and her family live. The wife wrote the book while the husband illustrated it. It might not be a bad book to add to your rotation.

  • 27.
    Mandy Bopp said…

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the Maurice Sendak book. I actually danced in that ballet in 1988 when the PNB would come up to Vancouver, BC and do the production up there. it’s one of my most vivid memories from my childhood. My parents bought me the book and included all of the newspaper articles and photos of me in it. Not too many people have ever seen that production but it is truly beautiful!!

    Thanks for jogging my memory, Ali! Have a wonderful day!

  • 28.
    Kathy said…

    My daughter got the Elf on a Shelf this year for her 2 boys, 3 and 1 yrs. The 3 yr old was so so excited to find “Chippy” every morning. I told my daughter about your 25 book idea and she loved the idea. So I thought next year, to simplify things we could COMBINE the 2 traditions and have a wrapped book sitting next to Chippy every morning. These books will magically disappear every Christmas Eve night along with Chippy to the North Pole until next year. (they will be at my place, well hidden from exploring boys.)

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Love that idea. The kids had the book and an elf over at Chris’ house and they loved that.

  • 29.
    Donna said…

    Letters From Father Christmas by
    J. R. R. Tolkien is my all time favourite :) x

  • 30.
    Queen Mary said…

    My favorite has always been The Littlest Angel, you just don’t see it anymore! And Tomi di Poalo has some wonderful books!

  • 31.
    Jen said…

    I collect holiday books too and LOVED this idea!! Will for sure do this next year!!

  • 32.
    Christine said…

    Love this tradition. I would like to share a book:
    Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
    I share this book every year with my students.
    Also, Jan Brett has a wonderful website with lots of free stuff.
    Her illusttrations are AMAZING.

    • ….
      Camille said…

      I was going to suggest Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree. It is a classic in my mind. My kids are 26-16 and we still sit around and read aloud our favorites at Christmas. We sometimes argue over who gets to read this one.

      Auntie Clause is one my daughter loves and it was her very own Christmas book that is seperate from her brothers books.

    • ….
      Jennifer said…

      I echo Mr. Willoughby! My kids love it and it really is adorable. Check out A Wish to be a Christmas Tree. Another sweet, sweet book. Enjoy!! I’m sure I’ll find a new favorite in this list as well. Thanks.

  • 33.
    Ruth G said…

    OK, Ali! My family loves books and I think your tradition is such a great one to have! We have the Jan Bretts and Polar Express. We also have Olive, the other reindeer which is a heartwarming story. Olivia cracks us up, and the Mouse at the movies and Bear Stays up are so much fun! I will hunt down the Tolkein and I remember seeing the Nutcracker one with Maurice Sendak in bookstores and now I know I need to get it, too (AWESOME that you got to see the ballet performed with his sets!!!!) TFS!

  • 34.

    Hi Ali! Happy New Year!
    I just wanted to share with you a Christmas Tradition we have at our house. Every year since my daughter was born in 1996, we have given her a special Christmas book at Christmas. She now has 16 books in her collection. The books reflect who interests over the years…like when she was 8, she loved angels and fairies so we got her a book about ‘Holly the Angel’ that year. My son was born in 2001 and we started the same tradition with him, and he now has 10 books in his collection. Both our kids love getting these books out at Christmas and we have been reading them since they can remember so they have memories of reading these these books at Christmas as part of our family culture. My hope is that we have given them a small library of Christmas books to take into adulthood and share with their own families one day.
    Love you Ali! I have been reading your blog since 2005 and please know my heart holds a special spot for you and 2012 will be full of new & fun adventures for you…I just know it! Angie xo

  • 35.

    Shoot! I forgot to mention that if you would like to see my son’s and daughter’s collection of special Christmas books, you can see the post I wrote about our tradition here:

    Angie xo

  • 36.
    rhonda said…

    My daughter is 18 and we still love Jan Brett til this day and collect her books!

  • 37.
    Lourdes A. said…

    My kids love Madeleine’s Christmas, and the Animal Advent Calendar, too (and they are teenagers!)

  • 38.
    Yvette said…

    Thank you for your post, what great idea. We have so many Christmas books that It is always a big decision from the kids as to which one we read each night.

  • 39.
    Julie said…

    I’m not sure how often you add books to the Christmas Book List, but I have a lot of good memories of reading “Christmas and the Old House” by Tom T. Hall at my grandparents’ house when I was younger.

  • 40.
    Shauna said…

    I don’t generally like telling people what they should do (!) but everyone “should” get/read this book at Christmas! It is called “Red Ranger Came Calling” by Berkeley Breathed. GREAT story.

    We’ve been doing this tradition for many years now and every year we can’t wait until someone opens that book!

    • ….
      Dawn said…

      Thanks for sharing this – I did the 25 days of Christmas books with my 3.5 year old and we loved it! I had not heard of your recommendation but put it on my wish list for when he is a bit older – it looks wonderful!

  • 41.
    Cara Seppelt said…

    Two more …Mog’s Christmas and Angelina’s Christmas.
    I did this for both of my children(28 and 19 now), and they have such fond memories of it – my daughter misses it and I think I’ll surprise her next year by doing it again.

  • 42.
    sharon said…

    Hi Ali, Happy New Year and astounding new year it will be! I have been thinking about you and the family and as usual you are in my prayers. Thanks for sharing the the Christmas reading books but I would have to add the The Little Drummer Boy, dont have a reference or author but it is a magical spirtual read that children love. I know another book which for me is so heartfelt that I get emotional reading the The Velveteen Rabbit. Still working on my December Daily and enjoying every minute….much love hugs and prayers

    Sharon Dryjanski Phoenix AZ Creative Escape

  • 43.
    Lori S. said…

    You might like Mary Engelbreit’s Nutcracker – great illustrations and it might be the “in-between” you’re looking for. We have her Night Before Christmas book and it’s just beautiful. You can find them both on Amazon.

  • 44.
    Roberta said…

    I did this in my kindergarten classroom this year and it was AWESOME! The special helper of the day was the child that got to open the gift. I also numbered the books so we count the school days in December. You might be surprised but the favorite book was Christmas in the Big Woods, from the picture book series from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Thanks for the idea!

  • 45.

    try great joy by kate dicamillo. it’s one of our favorites. :)

  • 46.
    Jill S. said…

    Love the list. I’ve gotta look for “Letters from Father Christmas.” Both of my teenagers LOVE Tolkien’s books. I’ve been collecting Christmas books for over 16 years. One of our favorites is “Snowmen at Christmas” by Caralyn Buehner. Also, Robert Sabuda has 3 amazingly awesome Christmas pop-up books: “The Night Before Christmas,” “The Christmas Alphabet,” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

  • 47.
    Anthea said…

    I love this tradition and feel so sad that my boys are 14 and 10 and a little too old for this but maybe we can adapt it. Thanks for the idea Ali.

  • 48.
    Amy said…

    Love this Ali. I’m definitely doing it next year- though my kids love Christmas books all year long so I’ll just gather them up and wrap them for December. So surprised that your only book that overlaps ours is “the night before Christmas” a couple of our favs this year were llama llama holiday drama and tractor Mac saves Christmas. Thanks again for sharing!

  • 49.
    Julie MacManus said…

    i LOVED your idea and so this year starting collecting books. i’ve just finished wrapping 21 books -so only another few to buy. I hit the 50% off sale at one shop after xmas and got like 7 bargain books! Most of mine are different from yours and being from NZ – i have the ‘Kiwi’ christmas ones.
    i have never seen the Fisher Price Lift the Flap one, even tho we have others of those… so thats now on my wish list :>
    thanks so much for sharing your grand ideas :>

  • 50.
    Linda Gore said…

    Awesome tradition. Too bad my four kids are scattered in 4 states and my baby is almost 21. Great idea for the grandkids……some day.

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