SHARED by: Katherine Grier, Librarian at York Avenue Preschool

The holidays are a time for giving thanks, celebrating traditions, spending time with family and friends, making goodies and gifts and being charitable. They often can be hectic and stressful times too; especially for young children. One thing I like to do when either my daughter or I feel out of sorts during this time of year is to read a book together that will help us remember what is fun, special and important about the holidays. There are so many great holiday books to choose from and everyone has their favorite. Our family’s go-to holiday classic is Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The following are some other wonderful books that I think the Gymtime, ELF and York Avenue Preschool community will enjoy.
Warm wishes and Happy Reading—Miss Katherine

The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore
A little girl finds her mom sitting quietly and asks her what she is doing. Her mom replies, “ I’m thinking about [my] whole life and remembering all the wonderful things I have to be thankful for.”  This prompts the girl to ask her mom what she is most thankful for, and although Mom has an easy answer to that question, she makes her daughter guess.
The girl runs to find her mother’s scrapbook where she knows all of her mother’s favorite memories are chronicled. As they look through the book and reminisce about all sorts of wonderful experiences including summer camp, a guitar solo, the high school prom, a first job and her wedding, it is not until they reach the page celebrating the birth of the little girl herself that the mom reveals her most thankful thing “forevermore.” Although the story features a mother and daughter, this is a great book for any audience and can be shared between mother and son or even father and child. The illustrations are superb and as a person who enjoys scrapbooking, I particularly like the use of that art in the storyline.

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
The spicy smells of holiday cookies always remind me of this fun and gorgeously illustrated picture book. It is a lovely story for the holiday season both to give as a gift and to read to your family. In this retelling of the familiar classic story The Gingerbread Man, Matti is baking gingerbread men, but is too excited to eat them to wait the full amount of time called for in the recipe to cook them. When Matti impatiently opens the oven door a gingerbread baby jumps out saying: “I am the Gingerbread Baby/ Fresh from the pan/ If you want me/Catch me if you can.” He then leads Matti’s mother and father, the family pets and a several other colorful characters on a mad dash through the village and into the forest, staying just out of reach and daring them to catch him along the way. But Matti’s not with them. The page borders of the book show us that he is at home making what turns out to be a gingerbread house into which the Gingerbread Baby runs. Your child gets to look under a lift-the-flap gingerbread house at the end of the story to see if he is safe inside. Readers of all ages will be delighted by what they see.

Rabbit’s Gift by George Shannon.
The holidays are about gifts and giving. Not just material things, but charity and gifts of time spent with family and friends. This is a wonderful picture book that shows the beauty of giving in a way that even the youngest of readers will appreciate. Based on an ancient folktale, the story begins with Rabbit in search of food on a cold and snowy day. He finds two turnips and rolls them home. As he starts to eat a turnip, he also begins to wonder if his friend Donkey has enough to eat. So he pushes one turnip up the hill to Donkey’s house and leaves it by the front door. When donkey discovers the turnip, she realizes that she has enough to eat, but thinks that maybe her friend Goat doesn’t, and she decides to bring the turnip to him. The story goes on like this, with each animal gifting the turnip to another animal friend. The turnip is eventually returned-full circle-to Rabbit, who knows exactly what to do with it—share it with ALL the other animals. Don’t skip the author’s note at the end of this book as it is a really interesting discussion of the origin of the folktale on which the book is based and of the many different cultures that have a version of it.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in New York City by Lisa Adams
Instead of partridges, pear trees, piping pipers and golden rings, this delightful picture book version of the 12 Days of Christmas holiday song features a pigeon in Central Park, some tourists, sidewalk Santas, shining stars, dragon kites and several more sights in and around New York City’s five boroughs. The opening page of the book is a letter from a boy named Daniel who is writing to his cousin Emily and inviting her to visit him in the Big Apple at Christmas time. She accepts his invitation and flies to the City. When she is here, Daniel gives her 12 special NYC themed gifts. The reader learns all about the gifts and Emily’s visit through her letters home to her mom and dad. The book’s charming illustrations are perfect complements to these letters making this a magical holiday book to share with native New Yorkers, new residents and visitors alike.

My Two Holidays by Danielle Novack
Sam’s family celebrates two holiday traditions—Christmas and Hanukkah. He thinks it is cool that he gets to decorate a Christmas tree and light a Menorah. But, when he learns that his classmates at school celebrate only one holiday, he becomes confused. His mother then explains to him and the reader the meaning of the two traditions and of being a family with mixed traditions. When Sam passes this information on to the other kids at school, they think that it is cool too. This picture book is sweet and respectful and is an especially good one for young preschoolers who may be experiencing their own confusion about other children’s traditions and holidays.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
This popular author continues to demonstrate her near perfect understanding of preschooler behavior and emotions in her holiday installment of the beloved Llama Llama series. In all the hustle and bustle of the season— baking cookies, making and wrapping presents, hanging stockings and trimming trees, little Llama is really only interested in one thing: How many more days left until Christmas?  As the calendar crawls by, Llama Llama’s patience wears thin, leading to the inevitable Llama Drama, but Mama Llama saves the day once again with a hug and a snuggle and a gentle reminder that being together is the most important thing of all.