Holiday Themes Make Many Books Great Picks for the Season

Festive and funny, sweet and sentimental, children’s books help set the tone for a holiday season, and reading them together can become a special family tradition.

In Santa’s Eleven Months Off (Peachtree, $16.95), the notion of how Santa Claus fills his spare time is captivating. But add whimsical pictures of tropical vacations, in-service training and trick-or-treating, and the book provides a light-hearted lead-up to the jolly old elf’s busiest night of the year.

Although not about a specific holiday, A Very Special Snowflake (Scholastic, $3.99) certainly has a festive feel with its bright drawings and wintry theme. A white puppy named Snowflake causes all sorts of confusion when she is missing during a blizzard.

In the sweetly told Bear Stays Up for Christmas (Simon & Schuster, $9.99), the critters of the forest wake up a hibernating bear so that he won’t sleep through the holiday. In this story of friendship, everyone is rewarded for love and kindness toward each other.

Animals also star in Hurry! Hurry! Have you Heard? (Chronicle Books, $16.99). Softly drawn pictures have the quality of watercolor paintings and depict creatures of all types and sizes welcoming the newborn Jesus on the first Christmas.

Classic Christmas carols are rewritten in Where Did They Hide My Presents? (Aladdin, $6.99). “Deck the Halls” becomes “At the Malls” and “Frosty the Snowman” translates to “Our Friendly Mailman,” offering a perfect break for folks with the original version on constant replay in their head from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

Hanukkah traditions are shared in I Have a Little Dreidel (Scholastic, $9.99). From cooking latkes to lighting the menorah, the book explains the holiday in rhyme.

And The Everything Kids’ Hanukkah Puzzle and Activity Book (AdamsMedia, $7.95) offers word searches, picture games, mazes and more, all around the theme of the festival of lights.

Older readers might enjoy Who Is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? (Holiday House, $16.95). Friends Alex and Yasmeen must track down the culprit when the neighborhood’s annual holiday display is gradually looted of its geese, swans and other musical décor.

In Kringle (Scholastic, $14.99), a boy finds himself challenged by all sorts of mystical creatures on his way to become a legend in his own right.

And in Toy Dance Party (Schwartz & Wade, $16.99), a motley crew of favorite toys struggle to maintain the affection of a girl who is growing into sleepovers and Barbies and, seemingly, away from old friends.

If the holidays put you in the mood for baking, two kid-friendly cookbooks provide ideas for fun food for special days and throughout the year. Cookies, candies and delicious themed treats are the focus of Kids in the Holiday Kitchen (Chronicle Books, $16.95). Enjoy snow angel toast and eggs for breakfast, sesame noodles with shredded cucumber for lunch, and individual pesto and mozzarella pizzas for dinner. In between, bake a kitchen full of goodies, like chocolate mint brownies and buttery ball cookies, to share with friends and neighbors. For families with a taste for comfort food, try Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook (Simon & Schuster, $21.95). Deep-frying is not required for recipes that include frozen bananas, ambrosia salad, and pasta with homemade cheese sauce. Plus, the Queen of Southern Fare offers basic information for beginning cooks, like a glossary, safety tips and even some pointers on table manners.

Categories: Early Education, Seasonal, Seasonal Fun, SK Activities, Things To Do