Every year, Cracking the Cover compiles a list of books that make great additions to your holiday library. The following were published in 2019. All synopsizes are italicized in gray and provided by respective publishers. Reviews are by Jessica. Scroll down for the complete list or click or tap the following links to directly visit a section. AGES 2 AND UP • AGES 3 AND UP • AGES 4 AND UP • AGES 5 AND UP • AGES 8 AND UP
AGES 2 AND UP
LITTLE ROBIN’S CHRISTMAS, by Jan Fearnley, Nosy Crow, Sept. 10, 2019, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 2-5)
One frosty evening, a week before Christmas, Little Robin prepares for the chilly nights to come by washing his seven warm knit vests. But as the days go by, he comes across lots of shivering animals and kindly offers them his vests to wear. By Christmas Eve, Little Robin is cold and alone with no vests left. That is, until a special someone arrives to reward his kindness.
Little Robin’s Christmas helps expose little readers to the true spirit of giving. The illustrations are charming and the story is sweet.Return to Top
AGES 3 AND UP
WE’RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT: CHRISTMAS ACTIVITY BOOK, by Left Blank, Candlewick, Sept. 10, 2019, Softcover, $9.99 (ages 3-7)
Inspired by the animated special based on a beloved classic, this treasure trove of activities, fun facts, and more than a hundred stickers is the perfect gift for a magical time of year. There’s so much to make, do, and discover in the countdown to Christmas! Whether kids like staying indoors to make crafts or stepping outside to explore, they’ll find plenty of ideas in this gem of a book. Would you like to create a wreath, design your own cards, or make a special cake for the birds? How about learning some seasonal jokes, looking for winter creatures, or completing a Christmas tree calendar with stickers? With easy-to-follow instructions, charming illustrations, and plenty of holiday spirit, this hands-on guide to making the most of the season will keep children entertained and inspired.
If you or your kids are fans of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt — either the book or movie or both — then this activity book is a no-brainer. Not only does this book feature beloved characters, it also stimulates creativity and incorporates nature.
SANTA’S STORY, by Will Hillenbrand, Two Lions, Sept. 10, 2019, Hardcover, $7.99 (ages 3-5)
Santa is ready to leave on Christmas Eve, but he can’t find the reindeer anywhere. Dasher is busy dashing, Donner is dozing, and Cupid is crooning. It isn’t until Santa remembers their annual tradition—reading a Christmas story together—that the reindeer are ready.
If you’re already a fan of Will Hillenbrand’s books, then you’ll already know this book is a must-buy. The illustrations are charming and feel as if they’re straight off a Christmas card. The story is sweet, and the plot mimics childhood nighttime routines
I SPY CHRISTMAS, by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick, Cartwheel Books, Sept. 3, 2019, Hardcover, $14.99 (ages 3-5)
Can you find Santa and his elf, a sleigh, snowmen, silver bells and jingle bells, mittens, two turtledoves, candy canes, and the rest of the festive things hidden in the shiny ornaments, snowy landscapes, and colorful store windows? What is hidden in Santa’s workshop? And what do you see under the Christmas tree?
Walter Wick’s captivating photographs paired with Marzollo’s clever rhyming puzzles will have readers of all ages mesmerized.
The suggested age range for I Spy Christmas is 3-5, but the whole family will enjoy this book. Some of the items are a challenge to find, and we’ve turned it into a sort of contest to see who can find the most items in a certain amount of time or who can find something first. The rhymes add to the festive ambiance. I can see this book being a family favorite for years to come.
LONG AGO, ON A SILENT NIGHT, by Julie Berry and Annie Won, Orchard Books, Sept. 3, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3 and up)
Long ago, in a dusty barn, a mother took a child in her arms, wrapped him snug, made his bed in the hay. He was her gift that Christmas Day. There’s no sweeter gift than a life so new. My best gift, little one, is you.
This unconventional Nativity story is a beautifully illustrated look at a mother’s love for her child. The text parallels that love with Jesus’ birth.
THE CRAYONS’ CHRISTMAS, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, Penguin Workshop, Oct. 15, 2019, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 3-7)
‘Tis the season for all of us to write our holiday wishlists. But everyone — even the crayons — know the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers get to see how Duncan, the crayons, and their families celebrate the holidays. With real, folded letters from the Crayons that you can pull from their envelopes and read, games, punch-out ornaments, a poster, and a pop-up tree.
This is perfect gift for fans of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home. The suggested age range on this is 3-7, but younger hands will need help manipulating the letters and envelopes.
THE TREE THAT’S MEANT TO BE, by Yuval Zommer, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Sept. 24, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)
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A small, crooked fir tree is left all alone after the others near it in the forest are chosen by families as Christmas to bring home. But when the forest animals gather around the lonely little tree to cheer it up and celebrate the season, it finds the warmth of the holidays in the heart of a cold, snowy forest.
This is a charming and classic-feeling holiday picture book with a timely message about celebrating our differences and sticking by our friends. Families will love making this part of their holiday traditions, as a perfect book to talk about kindness, generosity, and the true meaning of Christmas.
AGES 4 AND UP
DASHER: HOW A BRAVE LITTLE DOE CHANGED CHRISTMAS FOREVER, by Matt Tavares, Candlewick, Sept. 10, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.
Dasher is a fun look at the legend of Santa and his reindeer. I was thrown a little when Dasher is revealed to be a doe, but after a quick Google search, I found that does can in fact grow antlers. That aside, it’s a sweet story and the illustrations are gorgeous.
SANTA MOUSE, by Michael Brown and Elfrieda De Witt, Little Simon; Reprint edition, Sept. 17, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-6)
In this holiday story, meet a tiny mouse with no name who is blessed with a large imagination and a generous spirit. He lives a very lonely life in a very big house. Yet he dearly loves Christmas and one Christmas Eve he surprises Santa Claus with a most unusual present.
How does this small mouse with a big heart become Santa’s special helper? This sweet little tale oozes with charm. It embodies that warm old-fashioned feeling the holidays bring.
TOMIE DEPAOLA’S CHRISTMAS TREE BOOK, by Tomie dePaola, Holiday House, Sept. 10, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
While picking out their Christmas tree, a couple of curious kids start to wonder where Christmas trees came from. Who invented the first one? How did they become so popular? And how have they changed over the years?
Answers to those questions come from children’s author Tomie dePaola. dePaola’s stylized illustrations are bright and inviting. The facts, history and stories are fascinating and child appropriate.
THE LEGEND OF OLD BEFANA: AN ITALIAN CHRISTMAS STORY, by Tomie dePaola, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition, Sept. 17, 2019, Softcover, $7.99 (ages 4-8)
“Every year , on the Feast of the Three Kings, January the sixth, Old Defana visits all the children of Italy and leaves them candies, cookies, and gifts. It is said that she is searching for the Christ Child. There are many stories about Old Befana and how she began her search. This is one of them.”
Every morning and every afternoon, Old Befana sweeps with her broom. “Cranky old lady,” the children say. “She is always sweeping!” Sweep, sweep, sweep. But when a brilliant star glows in the eastern sky one night, and Old Befana encounters the glorious procession of three kings on their way to Bethlehem, her world will never be the same.
First published in 1980, The Legend of Old Befana has become a holiday classic. This is a lovely tale that embodies the Christmas spirit. It’s a good option for families looking to add more religious books to their holiday collections.
THE CHRISTMAS DOLL, by Jason F. Wright and Howard Lyon, Shadow Mountain, Sept. 30, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
Christmas is fast approaching, but in the Saxton home, there is no money for gifts. Could there still be something special for Gail underneath the tree? In The Christmas Doll author Jason F. Wright shares a true story from the life of Gail Saxton Miller, billionaire businesswoman and owner of the Utah Jazz NBA team. But Gail’s childhood was vastly different from her life now—facing poverty in the 1940s, the Saxton family made ends meet by turning their small home into rental apartments and made do with hand-me-downs and secondhand items. However, their humble circumstances didn’t stop the Saxtons from being rich in what mattered most: self-less acts of love, the rewards of a job well done, and the hope and renewal we can feel through Jesus Christ. All of these lessons come together at Christmastime, when Gail learns of love and sacrifice through a single, precious gift.
ANGELA’S CHRISTMAS, by Frank McCourt and Raúl Colón, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books; Reissue edition, Sept. 17, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
Pulitzer Prize recipient Frank McCourt shares the story of his mother’s childhood Christmas in this book, previously published as Angela and the Baby Jesus. Angela is 6-years-old and worries for the baby Jesus on the altar of St. Joseph’s church in Limerick. December nights are damp and cold, and the church is dark at night. How can the baby Jesus’ mother leave him in the manger without even a blanket to cover him? The baby Jesus surely needs Angela’s help, even if she is not allowed to go on the altar, especially by herself. Filled with the characters, incident, and detail that have made Frank McCourt internationally renowned and beloved, Angela’s Christmas is a timeless story of real life—in all of its joy, innocence, and incongruity. A story for all generations to enjoy and cherish.
HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK: THE CLASSIC ILLUSTRATED STORYBOOK (POP CLASSICS), by Kim Smith, Quirk Books; Illustrated edition, Oct. 1, 2019, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
It’s the holidays and Kevin doesn’t want to go on his family vacation to Florida. Amid the chaos and confusion of the airport, he accidentally boards the wrong plane and ends up alone (again!) in New York City. Kevin goes sightseeing, checks into a hotel, and enjoys limo rides, all courtesy of his dad’s credit card. But then he makes a shocking discovery: the burglars who tried to rob his house last year are back, and this time they plan to rob a toy store on Christmas Eve! Can Kevin stop them and save Christmas with the help of some new friends?
This Pop Classics book celebrates the classic movie with delightful illustrations that make it stand out from the film all while complimenting it, too.Return to Top
AGES 5 AND UP
CHRISTMAS IS HERE! (PEANUTS), by Charles M. Schulz and Robert Pope, Simon Spotlight, Sept. 17, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 5-7)
Christmas is finally here! This year, Snoopy just wants to spend a peaceful and quiet day with his best friend Woodstock, but people keep interrupting them.
Find out how Snoopy gets into the Christmas spirit in this festive Ready-to-Read story!
What better way to get young readers excited than Snoopy? This cute tale featuring a lovable pup is exactly the type of story little ones will want to pick up over and over again.
SANTA’S SECRET, by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Deborah Melmon, Sleeping Bear Press, Aug. 15, 2019, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 5-7)
Everyone knows that when Christmas rolls around Santa employs a legion of helpers to ensure the season goes off without a hitch. But between the santas on parade, the santas at the malls, and the ones ringing bells in front of busy department stores…one intrepid investigator wants to know exactly WHO the real Santa is. Armed with a notebook, pencil, and a barrage of questions, can this young detective get to the bottom of Santa’s secret?
SNOW GLOBE WISHES, by Erin Dealey and Claire Shorrock, Sleeping Bear Press, Sept. 15, 2019, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 5-7)
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As the worst snow storm of the year rolls in, one family hunkers down together in a cozy blanket fort for the night. A little girl makes a wish on a snow globe and, in the morning, the sun rises on a winter wonderland–beckoning all outside. And what if, on this snow-filled day, families shake their busy lives and everyone goes out to play? A lyrical holiday story about wishes and community and snow — lots and lots of snow.
AGES 8 AND UP
CHRISTMAS IS COMING!: CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY WITH ART, STORIES, POEMS, SONGS, AND RECIPES, by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harry N. Abrams, Oct. 15, 2019, Hardcover, $24.99 (ages 8 and up)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and this richly illustrated treasury celebrates everything there is to love about the holiday season! It’s filled with favorite Christmas stories, such as “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “Little Women, A Merry Christmas,” and songs as well as original poems from Lee Bennett Hopkins, Naomi Shihab Nye, and others; original recipes from Erin Gleeson, Yvette van Boven, and Yotam Ottolenghi; and other holiday trappings. All the artwork is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, ranging from religious paintings depicting the Nativity, to 20th-century illustrations showing Santa Claus, to wintry scenes of snowy landscapes and ice skaters.
Growing up, we had a book similar to this one. I don’t know what happened to it, but I remember reading it every year. I’m excited to add this one to out holiday collection.Return to Top
© 2019, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.