15 Christmas and holiday books for kids to read in 2019

Because reading together is the coziest way to celebrate the season
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By Lisa Tolin

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There’s a reason so many kids cry on Santa’s lap: Holiday traditions can be kind of weird.

There are trees and candles, presents and costumes and — why is there candy in socks again? For kids learning to celebrate and encountering new traditions, a little explanation goes a long way.

That’s why we’re excited for the latest batch of holiday books for kids. Whether you’re looking for something to read ahead of the holidays or a gift that lasts all year, there’s something for every little one on Santa’s list.

1. “Dasher,” by Matt Tavares

Why should Rudolph get all the attention? Tavares’ new tale about how Santa met his reindeer has the feeling of accepted lore, and it puts a girl reindeer at the heart of the story. (Fun fact: Male reindeer shed their antlers in December, so it's possible all of Santa's reindeers are girls.)

2. "The Crayons' Christmas," by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Fans of "The Day the Crayons Quit" and "The Day the Crayons Came Home" will enjoy this holiday celebration with Duncan's old friends like beige crayon (who's now allergic to gluten from coloring too much wheat) and gray crayon, who's celebrating Hanukkah. The book includes pull-out letters and decorations.

3. "The Great Santa Stakeout," by Betsy Bird and Dan Santat

Like most kids, Freddy Melcher is a big Santa fan. Unlike most kids, he launches a "Mission Impossible"-style sting to meet the man in red.

4. "All of a Kind Family Hanukkah," by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

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This picture book revisits the characters from Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family as they prepare for Hanukkah in 1912.

5. "Red & Lulu," by Matt Tavares

Another beautiful book from Tavares, this follows the journey of two cardinals separated when their home becomes the Rockefeller Center tree. It’s a favorite here at 30 Rock.

6. "Construction Site on Christmas Night," by Sherri Duskey Rinker and A.G. Ford

There's work to do on Christmas night at the home of the "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site" crew, but they'll each get a special gift before they tuck in for the night.

7. Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury

This volume includes Brett's take on "The Night Before Christmas" and several of her classic original stories, such as "The Hat" and "The Mitten."

8. "The Shortest Day," by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis

Beautiful art accompanies a poem about the winter solstice.

9. "Nativity," by Cynthia Rylant

Those hoping to explain the religious meaning of Christmas will appreciate this kid-friendly interpretation by Cynthia Rylant.

10. "The Story of Hanukkah," by David A. Adler and Jill Weber

This board book presents an easy primer on the holiday for the littlest celebrants.

11. "Bedtime Classics: The Nutcracker," by E.T.A. Hoffmann and Carly Gledhill

If you're planning to see "The Nutcracker" for the holidays, this can help get a young one up to speed.

12. "The Polar Express," by Chris Van Allsburg

This classic gets an update with an audiobook narrated by Liam Neeson and a golden "All Aboard" ornament.

13. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," by Dr. Seuss

What kind of Grinch wouldn't include this on a list of holiday books? Not this one.

14. "Oskar and the Eight Blessings," by Richard Simon, Tanya Simon and Mark Siegel

Oskar arrives in New York on the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1934, a lone immigrant fleeing the Nazis. On new shores, he finds hope and a renewed faith in blessings.

15. "Great Joy," by Kate DiCamillo and Bagram Ibatoulline

When Frances sees an organ grinder sleeping on the street, she grapples with how to celebrate the season while others suffer.

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