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9 Festive books to get you into the holiday spirit


Photo by stuartpilbrow licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s December - a time for celebration with family and friends. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or maybe something else, we’ve put together a list of great books for all ages that will get you right into the holiday spirit. Sit back in your favourite chair with a mug of hot chocolate and curl up with a magical book from our festive reading list!

The Santa Trap book coverThe Santa Trap

by Jonathan Emmett
Ages: 6+ | Peachtree Publishers

Bradley Bartleby is bad, very bad. All the adults in Bradley’s life are running scared - except for Santa Claus, who refuses to give him anything but socks. But Bradley vows to get what he deserves. If Santa won’t give him the gifts he wants, Bradley will just have to steal them. He transforms his house into a trap so fearsome, Santa doesn’t stand a chance. Or does he?

Seven Spools of Thread book coverSeven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story

by Angela Shelf Medearis
Ages: 6-10 | Albert Whitman & Company

In an African village live seven brothers who are constantly bickering. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown the brothers must make gold out of seven different coloured spools of thread - without arguing! Will the brothers learn to cooperate in both words and deeds or continue to fight and have to live as beggars?

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever book coverThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever

by Barbara Robinson
Ages: 9+ | HarperCollins

The Herdmans are the worst kids in history! They lie, steal, smoke cigars, talk dirty, cuss, set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s old broken-down toolhouse and take the Lord’s name in vain. So no one is prepared when they invade church one Sunday and decide to take over the annual Christmas pageant. Their interpretation is full of surprises for everyone, starting with the Herdmans themselves.

Hanukkah Haiku book coverHanukkah Haiku

by Harriet Ziefert
Ages: 4-10 | Blue Apple Books

A poem for each night of Hanukkah, telling of family traditions and the joy of lighting the candles together, playing dreidel, eating latkes and applesauce, receiving shiny coins, singing and dancing, and hearing the story of the Maccabees. Each page is covered in pictures of family traditions, the menorah, and wishes of a happy Hanukkah.

The True Gift of Christmas book coverThe True Gift: A Christmas Story

by Patricia MacLachlan
Ages: 7+ | Atheneum Books for Young Readers

All year long Lily and Liam look forward to Christmas on their grandparents’ farm. It’s always the perfect trip - walking to the lilac library, trimming the tree, giving gifts. But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different. This Christmas, Lily and Liam will find out the meaning of a true gift.

The Angel TreeThe Angel Tree

by Daphne Benedis-Grab
Ages: 8-12 | Scholastic

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square - the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while other make those wishes come true. This year, however, four kids who have been helped are determined to solve the mystery of the tree and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel.

Secrets of a Christmas Box book coverSecrets of a Christmas Box

by Steven Hornby
Ages: 8-12 | Ecky Thump Books

Enter the magical world of the Christmas Tree Dwellers, as Larry, the Christmas snowman, wakes up after the long sleep in the Christmas, to find his brother missing. Desperate to find him before Christmas, Larry along with his girlfriend Debbie, a newcomer Splint, and his companion Tinsel escape down the tree and away into the house to look for clues. Can they make it back to the tree in time and uncover the truth behind the Secrets of the Christmas Box?

When Santa Fell to Earth book coverWhen Santa Fell to Earth

by Cornelia Funke
Ages: 8-12 | Scholastic

Scared by a storm, Twinklestar the least reliable reindeer, bolts - causing Santa and his sleigh to crash land. And though Santa has dropped into a friendly neighbourhood, he’s not safe: Jeremiah Goblynch is determined to put an end to children’s wishes and turn the holiday season into his own personal moneymaking scheme. As the last real St. Nick around, only Santa stands between Goblynch and his grinchlike plan.

In the Month of Kislev book coverIn the Month of Kislev: A Story for Hanukkah

by Nina Jaffe
Ages: 5-8

Mendel the peddler’s children fall asleep each night to the delicious smell of latkes coming from the home of Feivel the merchant. But Feivel is outraged - he thinks they should pay for taking the smell of his food. He goes to the wise village rabbi to decide an appropriate fine for their Hanukkah crime and learns some hard lessons in the process.

Our list of great holiday books was put together with reviews from Common Sense Media, The Children’s Book Review, and Kirkus Reviews.