I love holidays and many of my favorite books are Christmas stories, so Mondays from now until Christmas will be short lists of holiday books (and a few extra things) I recommend. I make no promises that these are all in print and they range from picture books suitable for young kids to adult novels. All are favorites for various reasons!
The Christmas Boot
by Lisa Wheeler
illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
2016, Dial Books
This picture book is a great story about a woman who finds boots abandoned in the woods and puts them on, only to find that they start making her wishes come true! The mystery of who the boots belong to and where their magic comes from makes for a beautiful and fun Christmas story!
Letters from Father Christmas
text and illustrations by J. R. R. Tolkien
A few different editions have been published over the years
When his children were growing up, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote them letters from Father Christmas each year complete with illustrations. Each letter relates the crazy adventures going on at the North Pole and over the years he managed to created a fun range of characters and imaginative stories. They’ve been published several times and all of the versions are fun, so whichever you can find should be great!
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia
by Peggy Parish
illustrated by Lynn Sweet
1986 and many editions since
One of my favorite Christmas books as a kid was this holiday adventure from the Amelia Bedelia series and it still holds up! Amelia works as basically a cook and housekeeper, but she takes every instruction she is given literally. She cuts a calendar into a “date cake”, stuffs stockings with turkey stuffing, and many more entertaining misunderstandings. This book is totally silly, but it still makes me laugh every time!
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
by L. Frank Baum
illustrated by Mary Cowles Clark
1902 and many editions since
Obviously I am a huge fan of L. Frank Baum’s fantasies and this one is a particular favorite. He tells the story of Santa like you have probably never heard it before. The stories about Santa weren’t as set when he was writing, so the North Pole doesn’t appear in this book and Santa is helped by a whole array of fairies and magical creatures. His work bringing toys has a much more serious purpose in this one – reminding humans of the hope and goodness that make their lives worth living!
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
A more recent favorite of mine is the first book about Dash and Lily (the second, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily is good too). This book is written from two points of view in alternating chapters. Dash is a somewhat cynical teenage boy who has a decidedly literary take on everything and Lily is an eternally optimistic teenage girl who sees the magic in everything. They don’t meet for most of the book, but they communicate back and forth via a red moleskin journal and a series of tasks they set for one another. It’s a beautiful story about romance and magic and I love it every time I read it!
A Secret Christmas
by Lauren Royal
2017, Novelty Books
In 1651 the Commonwealth government of England had outlawed all outward signs of Christmas celebration as impious, so anyone who wanted to celebrate had to do it in secret and always ran the risk of being caught. But this is a beautiful (and slightly steamy – although there is a “sweet” version under the title The Cavalier’s Christmas Bride) romance about two fun characters who are doing their best to keep the holiday festive without running afoul of the restrictive law.
Christmas isn’t just about books, though! It’s also a fun time to enjoy some of my favorite movies and music.
For me, the Christmas season almost always starts with watching the movie “White Christmas” from 1954 staring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It’s a fun Christmas musical that never seems to get old for me!
I also love starting to listen to Christmas music this time of year. One of my favorite songs for the holidays is called “It Feels a Lot Like Christmas” and is from the movie “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol”. It’s upbeat and festive and always makes me smile! It’s a perfect song for getting into the Christmas spirit.
And I am told that my concept of Christmas movies is too narrow, so I have agreed to include some recommendations from my boyfriend in these posts.
His first Christmas movie recommendation is “Die Hard” from 1988 and staring Bruce Willis. This is a crazy action movie set at a Christmas party in a high rise building. He says the Christmas trees and music make this qualify as a Christmas movie. Your mileage may vary, but it is a great action movie.
His music recommendation is the song “Socks” by JD McPherson from the album Socks. He recommends the whole album, but this song is a particular favorite. It’s a hysterical song about the letdown that is getting socks for Christmas gifts. I actually agree with him on this one – it’s well worth listening to and a ton of fun for Christmas (especially if you have that one relative who always gives something like soap or socks every year!).
So that is week one of my (and my boyfriend’s) Christmas recommendations! We have two more lists of recommendations before December 25, so I hope you come back and enjoy those! If you have a Christmas favorite that I missed, feel free to suggest it in the comments!
A quick, must reread every season- David Sedaris’ essay collection -Holidays on Ice. All of them are good but “6-8 Black Men” is a particular favorite. It’s easy to find online too.