Six non-traditional children’s picture books to read as a family on Christmas Eve | News


A favorite Christmas Eve tradition is to put on pajamas, reunite the family on the sofa, and read holiday picture books together. And while there’s nothing wrong with Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch” or that well-worn edition of “The Night Before Christmas,” there are always new books that can join the rotation. From a new twist on the origin story of Santa Claus to a poem about the winter solstice, here are some alternative holiday books for the family to read this season.

“Little Santa Claus”by Jon Agee; Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013; $ 17.99.

There’s no shortage of Santa’s origin stories, but few are as deliciously silly as Jon Agee’s “Little Santa”. In the book, Little Santa loves living in the North Pole: chopping wood, making snow angels and, of course, sliding down the fireplace. The rest of the Claus family, however, are unhappy and decide to move to Florida. Before they can leave, a blizzard traps them at the house and it’s up to Santa to get help. On his way, he finds a special reindeer and a group of industrious elves and the rest, as they say, is history.

“The shortest day” by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis; Candlewick Press, 2019; $ 17.99.

So the shortest day has come,

and the year is dead.

And all over the centuries of the snow-white world,

people came to sing, dance to chase away the darkness.

And so begins Newbery medalist Susan Cooper’s beloved poem on the Winter Solstice, richly illustrated here by Caldecott Honoree Carson Ellis. As the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, we see humans come together, prepare, and celebrate as they anticipate the return of light, a rebirth, heralding a new day and a new year. We remember the connection between the rituals of our ancestors and ours as humans represented the change from early hunter-gatherers around a bonfire to modern friends and family gathering and singing in front of a fireplace decorated with holly and a menorah. The perfect book to share on the longest night.

“The day that Santa Claus stopped believing in Harold” by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Cale Atkinson; Tundra Books, 2016; $ 16.99.

Santa Claus wants to believe in Harold. He really does. But he is no longer sure. Many of his friends don’t believe in Hiccup – the handwriting on Hiccup’s letters is too crisp to be that of a child, and the Hiccup who sat on his lap at the mall this year is nothing like Harold who visited him. Last year. What Santa Claus needs is proof, so he hatches a plan to find out once and for all if Hiccup really exists. Kids will love this hilarious take on the age-old question of whether Santa is real or not.

“The snowflake” by Benji Davies; HarperCollins, 2021; $ 17.99.

A small snowflake is born high in the clouds. Fluffy and white, he hops and twirls then (to his shock) begins to fall. Tumbling through the air, he crosses valleys, crosses streams and enters the city, where he wishes he could be a star on a beautifully lit Christmas tree. Meanwhile, a little girl comes home and wishes that she too could have such a brightly decorated tree. Adorable, old-fashioned illustrations transport the reader out of the cold and the heat with a soft ending that brings the snowflake and the girl closer together. Ultimately, wherever we go and however we fall, we all find a way to shine.

“The real Santa Claus” by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow; Random House Books for Young Readers, 2021; $ 17.99.

Santa has been portrayed in countless ways over the years, but what does the real Santa Claus look like? That’s the question at the heart of this (frankly long-awaited) picture book that focuses on a black family on vacation. The cheerful narrator loves all of his Santa Claus – whether they are wearing ornaments, stockings, or mugs – but no one seems to know what the real Santa Claus looks like. He stays up late in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the real Santa Claus and, like countless children before him, dozes off during the long wait. But a blurry glimpse as he’s carried to bed reveals the truth: the real Santa Claus is the one in our hearts.

“Larry’s Latkes” by Jenna Waldman, illustrated by Ben Whitehouse; Apple & Honey Press, 2021; $ 17.95.

Local author Jenna Waldman tells the vivid tale of Big Larry, an alligator known far and wide for the delicious latkes he serves every Chanukah. But after years of making the same potato latkes from his grandmother’s secret recipe, Larry longs for something more and decides to experiment with new ingredients from his local farmers market. Peppers, pears, quinces, kiwis … all are good game, however, the results do not quite live up to expectations. But Larry doesn’t give up and ultimately creates the perfect blend of the traditional and the new. Rainbow latkes for everyone!

Chris Saccheri is co-owner of Linden Tree Children’s Books in Los Altos. It can be emailed to [email protected].

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