The Spirit of Christmas in Picture Books

What does Christmas mean to you?  For me, it is a cultural holiday centered on family and generosity.  Here are a few books that I think capture the spirit of Christmas that will appeal to families who also celebrate culturally.


christmasquietThe Christmas Quiet Book is Deborah Underwood’s follow-up to The Quiet Book and The Loud Book, and it is perfect for sharing with kids during the holiday season.  Each page shows one quiet moment.  There is “hoping for a snowy day quiet” and “trying to stay awake quiet.”  All the familiar sights of Christmas are there, including the tree, presents, and a Christmas play.  The play’s quiet moments are “forgotten line quiet” and “helpful whisper quiet,” and only observant readers will likely notice the three kings bearing presents on the stage.  Other than that, the book is quite universal in it’s celebration of the quieter side of Christmas.

christmasevegoodnightI think The Christmas Quiet Book would make a great bedtime book during the holiday season, but in case you need another sleepy story in your Christmas bedtime repertoire, try Christmas Eve Good Night by Doug Cushman.  In cute rhyming verse, readers are asked how various Christmas or winter related animals and others say good night.  We see a polar bear mother and cub who “grrr” good night, a nutcracker father and son who “crack!” good night, and many others.  We end with Santa calling good night to all as he flies over the earth with a giant bag of presents.

justrightJust Right for Christmas by Birdie Black is a great book for sharing the spirit of generosity that many of us associate with the holiday season.  It has a similar story as Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree, in which one giant tree makes several smaller trees.  In this book, a beautiful piece of cloth makes several gifts when the scraps are shared.  At the end, we see everyone skating together, from the king and his daughter who started the book to the little mouse who made a scarf from a small scrap and everyone in between.  This is a great opportunity to talk about how we can give from our surplus to help others.  I also like that most of the characters make their gifts since my family is going to be giving some handmade gifts this season.

merrylittlechristmasA Merry Little Christmas: Celebrate from A to Z by Mary Engelbreit is an alphabetical look at one little mouse family’s celebration from the angel that tops their tree to the “zillion ways Christmas brings cheer.”  We also get occasional looks at Santa’s workshop for E (elves) and N (North Pole), but the focus of the book is really on the family.  They do everything together and exude happiness in almost every spread.  Other than the angel tree topper and the Yule log, which I was only vaguely familiar with, their Christmas was pretty universal.

pynThe last book is my favorite.  A Christmas Tree for Pyn by Olivier Dunrea is a lovely book about a father and daughter living in a wintry home.  The gruff father tells his daughter “My name is Oother” when she calls him Papa, and he says “We’ll see” to little Pyn’s wish for a Christmas tree.  Pyn is persistent, however, and the two end up bonding over a tree they cut down together after saying a prayer to thank the tree (the only religious aspect to the story). I love the depth of emotion in this book from Oother and Pyn.  It beautifully captures the way that holidays can bring families together.  I highly recommend this book.

What are some of your favorite Christmas picture books?

For more about secular family life, see my Secular Thursday page or check out the Books for Secular Families Amazon Book Shop.  A portion of purchases made from links on this site benefit Proper Noun Blog.  Thanks for your support!

Author: Mindy R

I'm a librarian, writer, book reviewer, etc.

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