Our Favorite Holiday Books

Happy holidays, y’all! It’s the time to pull on your favorite PJs, grab your comfiest blanket, and snuggle up with your little one for storytime. As the days grow shorter and colder, there’s nothing quite so comforting as reading holiday books aloud by a fire or in bed before it’s time to sleep.

Reading During the Holidays

Besides making the winter season feel extra cozy, holiday reading has cognitive and emotional benefits for children and their families. One study found that preschool children who had more exposure to reading aloud at home also had stronger brain activation in the areas associated with mental imagery and narrative comprehension. Reading out loud to young children helps them make important brain connections!

If your family finds favorite books that you can return to year after year, these holiday reads can become an important family tradition. Annual traditions give children a sense of routine and security, help them mark the changing seasons and passage of time, and can ground them in their family identity. Each of these can support emotional wellness and connection within the family.

We pulled together a few of our favorite holiday books to share with you! A few are long-time favorites that we return to again and again. Others are new books we’re excited to add to our holiday reading lists. Happy holidays and happy reading!

Holiday Books for Our Youngest Friends

Chanukah Lights Everywhere

Written by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Melissa Iwai
A little boy counts the Chanukah lights and, at the same time, considers all the light in the world around him. This whimsical exploration of the traditions that make Hanukkah special is a perfect addition to your library.

My Baby Loves Christmas

Written by Jabari Asim, Illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
This board book, the perfect gift for a new baby, explores all the wonderful things that Baby discovers about Christmas. Featuring rhythmic poetry and adorable illustrations, this short read is sure to delight your little one.

The Colors of Kwanzaa

Written by Dr. Kim D. Harris
The Colors of Kwanzaa is about the culture, faces, music, spirit, language, and love of Kwanzaa. Its colorful pages encourage a love of community. 

The Snowy Day

Written and Illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
This winter classic follows a young boy’s exploration of his snowy neighborhood. A long-time favorite at the Museum, this book stands the test of time with it’s unique illustrations and charming story. Did you know “The Snowy Day” is the most checked out boot at the New Your Public Library? To date, the book has been checked out about 500,000 times!

You’re My Little Latke

Illustrated by Natalie Marshall
Celebrate Hanukkah with You’re My Little Latke, a board book perfect for young children. The book highlights the love between parents and children and is sure to delight kids with its tactile elements and colorful illustrations. “Featuring everything from yummy latkes to golden gelt to shining menorahs,” it’s a delightful addition to your holiday wishlist. If you like this book, check out the series

Holiday Books for Older Children

A Hanukkah with Mazel

Written by Joel Stein, Illustrated by Elisa Vavouri
Poor Misha! He spends Hanukkah all by his lonesome… until Mazel, a hungry barn cat, strolls into his life. Misha may not have enough money to light Hanukkah candles, but with a little luck — or Mazel! — he can use his art to bring some light to the holiday.

Hanukkah Veron­i­ca: The Mitz­vah Fairy

Co-authors Julie Anne Cooper and Wendy Brant
Our sto­ry fol­lows Lucy’s jour­ney as she meets Hanukkah Veron­i­ca, The Mitz­vah Fairy, who fills her home with joy and helps her learn the pow­er of giv­ing. The end of the book explains the his­to­ry of Hanukkah, the mean­ing of each sym­bol, and a brief dis­cus­sion of how the hol­i­day is cel­e­brat­ed around the world. ​“Thanks to my fairy, I learned a les­son this sea­son, kind­ness is impor­tant, and it does not need a reason.”

Madeline’s Christmas

by Ledwig Bemelmans
Nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not even mice. With its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, the Madeline stories are true classics that continue to charm readers even after 75 years!

It’s the night before Christmas and everyone is sick in bed. All except brave Madeline, who is up and about and feeling just fine. Taking care of eleven little girls and Miss Clavel is hard work, but when Madeline finds help from a magical merchant, the girls embark on a Christmas journey that will surely make them forget their sniffles and sneezes.

K is for Kwanzaa

By Juwanda G. Ford Illustrator Ken Wilson-Max
Celebrate Kwanzaa from A to Z! Each letter of the alphabet represents an important word or fascinating fact about Kwanzaa. Explore all that is central to Kwanzaa: cultural heritage, family, and community.

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Written by Vivian Walsh, Illustrated by J. Otto Seibold
Olive the dog is merrily preparing for Christmas when classic holiday song makes her think she must be a reindeer! Soon Olive heads to the North Pole to join the team and hilarious shenanigans ensue. Colorful graphic illustrations accompany this zany dog story that’s sure to make anyone’s Christmas merry.

Over and Under the Snow 

Written by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This beloved nonfiction picture book reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow

Thank You, Omu!

Written and Illustrated by Oge Mora
Colorful collage illustrations and a heartwarming story about generosity and thankfulness make “Thank You, Omu!” a perfect read for the holiday season. We big fans of this book at the Museum! In fact, we had a storytime video, vocabulary list, and discussions questions you can check out here

The Polar Express

Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
A mysterious and magical holiday classic celebrating the power of wonder, faith, and traditions. Go on a wonderous train ride to the North Pole – who knows what you’ll discover!


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