One of our family’s favorite (and oldest) Christmas traditions is buying a Christmas book every year at the beginning of the Christmas season. It’s a tradition we started the first year we were married, long before we had children.
I know many of you love books as much as I do, so I thought I’d share a few of our favorites over the years. Of course we love classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and , The Polar Express, but here are some more of our favorites.
1994- Red Ranger Came Calling After all these years Red is still one of our most loved Christmas books. It’s funny, odd, heartfelt, and wonderful. Set on Vashon Island in the 1930′s, Red Ranger is about a little boy who is jaded by life and is a prickly, non-believer by nature. His skepticism is challenged by the aged “Saunder Klaus” who many locals believe to be the real Santa Claus. The ending of this book never fails to delight me. Sometimes our dearest wishes come true… just not in the way we expect. It’s a wonderful story about faith.
2001- Who Is Coming to Our House? I read this book more times than I can count when my children were toddlers. It’s a sweet, simple, rhyming book about the animals in the stable waiting for the arrival of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. If you have little ones in your life, you’ll love this quiet book.
2007- How Murray Saved Christmas is a lighthearted Christmas story that is a riot to read aloud. It about how Murray Kleiner, a deli owner, reluctantly steps in to deliver the toys when Santa gets knocked out. Murray doesn’t exactly know his stuff… he fills stockings with bagels and lox… and he can’t remember the reindeer’s names, “There’s Dumbo and Jumbo and Mason and Dixon, Cosmo and Kramer and Richard M. Nixon…” but he gets the job done and is a hoot from start to finish.
2008- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree What happens when your tree is much too big? You share, of course. This is the tree that keeps on giving in a classic Christmas story.
2009- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story is one of my personal favorites. It’s incredibly wise and wonderful. Set in the Appalachian mountains during World War I, it’s a story of bravery and honor. It’s about living up to your word, even when it’s hard. Of course, I love how the mother makes do and lovingly sews her daughter’s angel costume and doll from the fabric of her wedding dress. The illustrations by Barbara Cooney are sparse and lovely.
2010- Santa Calls A swashbuckling, turn of the century tale. The star of the show is the illustrations by the always memorable William Joyce. My kids love this book, and I love the moral: siblings should be good to each other.
2011- Christmas Day in the Morning is a quiet story about a young farm boy who gets up early Christmas morning to milk the cows as a gift for his father. It is beautifully written by Pearl S. Buck and warmly illustrated by Mark Buehner.
2012- A Christmas Carol illustrated by P.J. Lynch. I’ve been waiting for the year that my kids would be old enough to listen to Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. I finally wondered if this might be the year and went in search of a version that would be a keepsake. When I found this version, illustrated by the amazingly talented P.J. Lynch, I knew it was the perfect book.
This past week my kids and I have gathered round as my husband has read aloud our new book. They’ve crowded close to see the wonderful illustrations.
We wondered, would it be too hard for the kids to understand? But as he has read Dicken’s exquisite story of redemption, our kids have listened intently. Despite being almost 170 years old, A Christmas Carol is surprisingly accessible and it’s telling has brought a little magic to our home this Christmas season.