The Best Holiday Books to Read With Kids

by Madeleine Deliee
Nov 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Maybe it’s because my parents were educators, but when I was growing up, holiday gift-giving always meant books — a tradition I’m happy to carry on with my own kids. Over the years, we’ve amassed quite a collection that now figures prominently in our holiday decorating: We have everything from Madeline and Biscuit to a beautiful copy of The Gift of the Magi and most of Eric Kimmel’s titles. A great thing about books as gifts? They don’t come in the wrong size or color. 

Are there some classics, such as The Polar ExpressThe Grinch Who Stole ChristmasA Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas) or even Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins that many already know, love and probably own? Of course. But if you dig a little for a unique choice, your recipient will be less likely to have one just like it — and more likely to be thrilled by the new tale.

And there are beautiful, unique books out there for every fall-winter celebration, from Diwali to Kwanzaa. So, in honor of the many festivities that the season includes, here are a few of the best kids' books — that you might not have heard of yet — to go with them.

1 /12: 'Good Night Christmas Tree'

1/12 :'Good Night Christmas Tree'

If you haven’t read any of the Good Night books, here’s the perfect holiday introduction. Charming illustrations and easy-to-follow text about this tree tradition make this one a winner.


Good Night Christmas Tree (Good Night Our World), $8.95 on Amazon

2 /12: 'The Christmas Eve Tree'

2/12 :'The Christmas Eve Tree'

Featuring a big pop-up of New York City at its holiday best, this story of an unloved tree is sure to be a hit with city-dwellers and city-lovers alike.


The Christmas Eve Tree, $7.52 on Amazon

3 /12: 'Prince Of Fire: The Story of Diwali'

3/12 :'Prince Of Fire: The Story of Diwali'

An action-filled retelling of the Diwali story with beautiful illustrations, this book shares the quest of Prince Rama to free his beloved Sita from the evil Ravana.


Prince Of Fire: The Story of Diwali, $8.86 on Amazon

4 /12: 'Ganesha's Sweet Tooth'

4/12 :'Ganesha's Sweet Tooth'

The mid-century-style illustrations give retro cuteness to this retelling of the story of Ganesha’s broken tusk. While it does alter the tale slightly, the lesson that even broken things are useful still comes through.

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth, $7.99 on Amazon

5 /12: 'Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story'

5/12 :'Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story'

If you’ve read Strega Nona, you know the dilemma — latkes are delicious, but what happens when you’ve got a magical pan that makes way too many? It’ll take a Hanukkah miracle to make it right.

Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story, $5.94 on Amazon

6 /12: 'Oskar and the Eight Blessings'

6/12 :'Oskar and the Eight Blessings'

Another “New York during the holidays” tale, this award-winning book follows a young immigrant through the city experiencing the warmth of the season through his encounters with his new neighbors.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings, $15.63 on Amazon

7 /12: 'Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story'

7/12 :'Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story'

A reminder of the ideas behind Kwanzaa — and the holiday season in general — wrapped up in beautiful illustrations and a story of the origins of kente cloth.


Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story, $6.97 on Amazon

8 /12: 'Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa'

8/12 :'Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa'

A younger child’s story about coming together for the feast of Karamu and making sure everyone is included in the celebration. This book also includes a detailed explanation of the ideas behind the holiday.


Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa, $9.49 on Amazon

9 /12: 'Lucia Morning in Sweden'

9/12 :'Lucia Morning in Sweden'

For Swedes, St. Lucia Day is an important lead-up to Christmas. If you want to know about the holiday, this sweet book includes costume patterns and recipes to help you recreate the fun.


Lucia Morning in Sweden, $8.99 on Amazon

10 /12: 'The Longest Night'

10/12 :'The Longest Night'

Whether you always celebrate the Solstice or just need some midwinter brightness this year, this poetic story — with a message of hope coming from the smallest source — is inspiring.


The Longest Night, $12.58 on Amazon

11 /12: 'The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World

11/12 :'The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World

A collection of 12 retold Solstice tales from different cultures (if you were wondering why a paperback would be so expensive: It’s 192 pages!). In addition to the stories, the book includes games and songs that are associated with the longest night of the year.

The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice, $11.13 on Amazon

12/12 :Pin it!

Pin this and start building your holiday library.