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Views and opinions: Set the tone for the holiday with a special child's book


Kids’ Christmas books, by various authors and illustrators

Santa Calls c.1993; Others c.2017

Various prices & page counts

You’d better watch out. You’d better not cry. Your child knows exactly what comes next – you can bet on it.

You can also bet that he’s not about to take anything Santa-related lightly, so why not bring Santa home in a book this holiday season? Try one of these new stories, meant exactly for kids who love read-aloud time.

The little one who needs speed and craves All Things Automotive will want you to find The 12 Sleighs of Christmas by Sherry Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Jake Parker, again and again. It’s the tale of a (gulp!) busted-up sleigh, discovered to be in bad shape with just days to go before the Big Guy takes off.

So, maybe it’s time for an upgrade up North? The results will have your 3- to 7-year-old motorhead revving his engine for the holidays.

Kids generally see Santa in a serious vein, but for the child who likes her holiday with a dose of humor, Missile Toe: A Very Confused Christmas by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Marty Kelley is a great book to have around this season. Through silly poems and pictures, your child will get a chance to laugh at Christmas carol parodies and beloved holiday must-haves.

No, it’s not disrespectful – it’s hilarious, and elementary-school kids will eat it up.

For slightly older kids (ages 8-12, perhaps) who can sit still for a bit longer and who can appreciate beautiful artwork, Santa Calls by William Joyce will become an instant classic. Originally published more than 20 years ago but reintroduced now, this is an interactive book about a young boy who gets a call from the North Pole.

Who wouldn’t take Santa up on an invitation to the workshop? And so, Art Atchinson Aimesworth, his sister and his best friend head north on an adventure that takes them – and your child – through a fantasy like no other, past guards, “Dark Elves” and fanciful things that few kids ever get to see.

Set at the turn of the last century, this book has an old feel that new audiences will absolutely love.

And finally, there’s no better Christmas Eve bedtime book to read aloud than Good Night, Reindeer by Denise Brennan-Nelson, illustrated by Marco Bucci. With quiet nighttime pictures in lush twilight colors and sparse, spare words that signify bedtime, this book will make any little one as sleepy as possible the night before the Big Morning.

Here, Santa bids “Good Night” to each of his reindeer, as well as to the things in the workshop, thus making sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep (including your little one). As the tale progresses, your 2- to 6-year-old will get a charming peek into the personalities of eight tiny sleigh-engines, which is adorable, and which sets the tone perfectly.

If these books don’t quite fill the bill for your holiday, then ho-ho-hook up with your local bookseller or librarian. There are lots and lots of books for children of every age, every faith and every holiday. As for these four, watch out for them!


Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books. Readers with questions or comments may write to Terri in care of this publication.