Stop and Smell the Pages: 8 Holiday Read-Alouds to Savor This Season


While the holidays are a time of joy and magic for our families, it can also be so BUSY!  This is your friendly librarian reminding you to snuggle in with the family and slow down. Light the fire (or just a candle), make the herbal tea, slip into the jammies and enjoy some of these holiday read-alouds with your whole family. (Pro tip- these make great gifts too – and I love giving books as gifts!)

 Holiday Chapter Books for All Ages

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers are one of my absolute favorite families in fiction – promise me you’ll read this someday because you will love every single one of these kids. This book reads like an old-fashioned classic but has all the reality of a modern family. Just a few weeks before Christmas, the Vanderbeeker’s cantankerous landlord upstairs informs them they will need to move out and the 5 Vanderbeeker children are determined to convince him otherwise. OH SO HEARTWARMING, funny and creative. All I can say is- enjoy! 

Tumtum and Nutmeg’s Christmas Adventure by Emily Bearn

Tumtum and Nutmeg are two charming house mice who live in Rose Cottage secretly looking after sad and lonely siblings who live in the big house with their absent-minded father and dour aunt. While the children fear Christmas will not come to them, Tumtum and Nutmeg set to work making it happen. Charming illustrations, and sweet story with a little bit of that Mary Poppins feeling mixed.  

Holiday Chapter Books For Older children

The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith

This clever spin on the traditional Nutcracker classic has been a real hit for older kids who love twisted tales and fantasy. Delve into the world of the tyrannical mouse queen and her 7 headed mouse prince as apprentice Drosselmeyer attempts to rescue his master toymaker father and a magical princess.  Fun anytime of year but especially festive now.

Winterfrost by Michelle Hosts

I love books that embrace other cultures’ traditions and this fun one calls on the Danish sprites, called Nisse.  While Bettina is home alone tending to the farm and her baby sister, she forgets the Christmas tradition of leaving rice pudding out for the Nisse!  No one really believes in them anyway, so why bother? However, when baby Pia, vanishes Bettina has to find a way to appease these usually helpful but sometimes mischievous magical creatures!  This also makes a great audiobook for that long car ride to visit relatives…

The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements

Sixth Grade Holiday Concert- it’s tradition, right?! Everyone looks forward to it. But when the music teacher blows his top after finding out that the arts budget has been cut and he is being let go, he cancels the concert.  It is up to sixth grader, Hart Evans, to take over as chorus director so the show can go on! Clements is a masterful writer of witty realistic fiction that elementary school aged children love. 

Tale of Rescue by Michael Rosen 

Not as much a holiday story, but great for dog-lovers and those kids who love a wintery survival tale!  When a family from Florida heads to the mountains to experience the wonder of snow, they are caught unprepared in a whiteout blizzard.  A clever and daring cattle dog comes to their rescue in this heart-pounding story of survival.  Rosen, a dog lover himself, gives remarkable depth to the canine hero of this daring story.


Holiday picture books big kids will love too…

Too Many Tamales! by Gary Soto

It’s Christmas Eve and Maria is super excited! Everything is perfect- the snow, the cousins and Mama’s TAMALES!!!  When they realize Mama’s shiny engagement ring is missing, probably in the tamales, Maria and her cousins commit to finding it.  Belly aches and hilarity ensue as they eat their way through too many tamales!  Another wonderful exploration of how Christmas is celebrated in different cultures. 

The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco

I love Patricia Polacco’s semi-autobiographical stories about kindness, bravery, and creativity.  Her picture books are often text-heavy which make them ideal for older kids.  This story is the memory of Trisha whose family pauses their own Hanukkah festivities to deliver Christmas tree to fever-stricken housebound neighbors.  This is a story brimming with empathy, friendship and neighborly love- one of many from the legendary Patricia Polacco.

Whatever holidays you celebrate and however your family celebrates it, I hope you will find some moments of light and peace with your family as you snuggle in to enjoy a good holiday read aloud together. Happy Holidays!