I have often wondered why we have so many more winter and Christmas books than any other. Why, for example, are spring and summer themed books so underrepresented in our collection? I suppose it's because wintertime is just so conducive to cuddling up with a book. It's so cozy and relaxing.
You can find previous years' lists here (there wasn't one for 2012 as we had misplaced our collection in our move): 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006. (Look how little my children were in these! That must be the funnest part of putting these together!) A word about links: I'm linking here to Amazon for the sake of convenience. I don't have an active Amazon Associates account so I don't make anything whether you purchase from Amazon or elsewhere. Whenever possible, support local and independent bookshops!
This year's selection veers more toward the Christmas end of the spectrum rather than the winter end.
The Friendly Beasts Out of print, and I'd meant to share it for several years in a row before this but it kept slipping my mind until after the fact. This is a very old carol, about the animals' gifts to Jesus. We love to sing the song, and although we love the illustrations in our edition (Elisabeth got it from St. Nicholas when she was just a year-and-a-half old!), there is also a Tomie dePaola version which is still in print.
Home for Christmas The wild little troll boy in this book reminds me a little of my own wild little boy. Crazy, and stubborn, but tender-hearted and generous, too. And who doesn't need a wild little troll boy like that in their life?
The Three Snow Bears This is such a cute, wintery version of The Three Bears. As with everything by Jan Brett, I love the details she incorporates into each illustration.
The Littlest Evergreen I love Christmas tree books, and you'll notice several of them among my favorites over the years. The Little Fir Tree (this edition and this one), Night Tree, and Christmas Farm (among others) have all popped up over the years. This one is a sweet twist on the story of a tree being selected as a Christmas tree. The last page is my favorite. You'll have to check it out to find out why!
The Little Drummer Boy This is one of my favorites in the "song into book" genre. Although it's not my favorite Christmas song, the illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats (one of my favorite illustrators) make it just beautiful. Also, it's surprisingly hard to find quality Christmas board books (at least when you have a collection as big as ours). So this is a special favorite when we have a very little one in the house.
Hurry, Hurry, Have you Heard? This is one of the sweetest and most gentle Nativity books we have. Having a newborn myself, I feel like it perfectly fits the soft, tender feeling of those special newborn days. The illustrations and rhyming text are soft and lovely. The animals are sweet instead of boisterous or overly docile. I really like this one.
Christmas Day in the Morning This story is a classic. A young boy rises early to complete the farm chores and surprise his hardworking father on Christmas morning. What I love about it is that the father is tender, too. The boy's efforts are appreciated. The father is not merely a gruff archetype of fatherhood. I always, always cry when I read this one, and it has been with us for many years.
Christmas in the Stable Astrid Lindgren never fails. This book is in the vein of her Tomten books (The Tomten being in my top 10 children's books ever). But Harald Wiberg's illustrations here (he is also the illustrator of the Tomten books) are the real highlight. The story of the Nativity is moved into a more contemporary rural setting. A mother retells the story to her young daughter in simple language. The illustrations are simply luminous.
Christmas Eve: The Nativity Story in Engravings, Verse, and Song This book is simple but incredibly beautiful. The text is the biblical text, in the words of the beautiful King James version. Songs are used to punctuate the key elements of the story every few pages. And the engravings are extraordinary. St. Nicholas brought this book for Elisabeth last year, and it's very suitable for someone who is a bit more "grown up" in her taste.
Thank you all for your enthusiasm for my annual winter/Christmas book posts. It's fun to put them together for you!
(If you are overwhelmed with my extensive lists and want a shorter list, my top five are: The Mitten, Big Susan, Christmas in Noisy Village, The Tomten, and one beautiful Nativity book, such as Christmas Eve from this post, or The Story of Christmas by Jane Ray, or The Story of Christmas by Pamela Dalton. For a sixth choice, I'd throw in Family Christmas Treasures. For a couple more wintery choices, you can't go wrong with The Big Snow or The Snowy Day.)