7 Suggestions for Holiday Books

Growing up, I always looked forward to receiving a haul of books from Santa – who knew very well that this book loving girl needed a lot of material to get her through the long, cold winter months. I fondly remember wiling away hours cuddled up under the Christmas tree with a good book, or two, or three.

So, to help Santa out a little, here are my top seven picks for fun, new holiday reads, all available at amazon.com, bn.com, or better yet, at your local bookseller or library.

Tag along with a band of Christmas elves that strive to make people’s lives better in the days leading up to Christmas in the The Helpful Elves by August Kopisch. The story itself is based on a turn-of-the-century poem by Kopisch; the cute, die-cut elves peeking out over each page give the book itself a retro feel . Ages 2 – 7

The amazing animal and insect photography of Curious Critters by David Fitzsimmons leads children to the answers of such questions as Can squirrels fly? and What do turtles and humans have in common? David FitzSimmons’ stunning photography is simply brilliant; he manages to capture creatures at their magnificent, natural best. Set this book on your coffee table for browsing throughout the year. All ages

In Santa’s New Idea, by Nina Chen, Santa mixes Christmas up a bit when he decides to let the toys choose the children! This simple board book is perfect for toddlers and early preschoolers. Ages 2 – 5

Merry Christmas, Mr. Snowman by Wolfgang Hamel tells the tale of a group of schoolchildren building a snowman on Christmas Eve. When the weather turns too hot for Mr. Snowman, it’s time to take the party outdoors. Ages 2 – 7

The Nutcracker Ballet, written and illustrated by Chicagoan Aleksandra Efinmova, a former ballerina, is the perfect accompaniment for a first trip to the eponymous ballet. Classical illustrations and easy-to-read text introduce children to the wonders and stories behind classical ballet. Efinmova has also penned Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, both primers to the world or ballet, as part of her continuing Growing through Arts series of books, cd’s and toys focused on the classical arts (growingthroughthearts.com) Ages 3 – 10

Sister Bear: A Norse Tale, by award-winning, bestselling author Jane Yolen, is a lovely take on a traditional Norwegian folktale. When a young Norwegian girl, Halva, takes in an abandoned bear cub as her unofficial sister, she disovers a kindred spirit. Follow along as this bear/girl duo sled through the snow, frolic and fight a band of giant trolls. The rich illustrations of Linda Graves will transport you to wintertime in Scandinavia. Ages 4-10

Forget about the frilly, prissy princesses! Learn the truth behind some of history’s most notorious women in Goosebottom Books’ new series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames. From the atrocious Agrippina to the bold Black Queen Catherine de ‘Medici, these books charm with their fun take on some of history’s most challenging rulers, bringing them back to life by detailing what they wore, ate, and why they made certain, often downright nasty, choices. Maps, photos and historic artifacts supply the historical context. Currently available titles in the series introduce young readers to Cleopatra, Agrippina, Mary Tudor, Catherine de’ Medici, Marie Antoinette, and Cixi, the Dragon Empress.

Amy Bizzarri is a teacher, a writer, and a mom of two. She lives in Logan Square and blogs at tiramisumom.com.

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