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Best Christmas and Holiday Books for Kids

  • Amazon.com

    The Elf on the Shelf
    How exactly does Santa keep tabs on who's naughty and who's nice? Turns out he's got a mole—the elf on the shelf—who comes packaged with a companion book. The elf mysteriously changes locations overnight, and kids love looking for him as soon as they wake up in the morning. Bonus for parents: Since the elf's always watching, you should be able to milk major good behavior out of your kids.

    The Elf on the Shelf from amazon.com, $29.95

  • The Night Before Christmas
    We all know the magical, evocative words of Clement C. Moore's traditional holiday poem. This gorgeously illustrated version, which uses collage papers and oil paints, adds a modern twist: Santa wears funky pants, sports dreadlocks and leaves the children traditional African gifts. 

    The Night Before Christmas from bn.com, $16.99

  • Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas
    Nancy's psyched about the holidays until her ultra-fancy tree topper breaks. Can the ultimate girly-girl learn to love plain old DIY tree decorations? As always, the detailed, sparkly illustrations make this a fave among the princess set.

    Fancy Nancy: Spendiferous Christmas from bn.com, $17.99

  • The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving
    Does your kid have a case of the holiday gimmes? Brother and Sister Bear do too, until they learn what Christmas is really all about. This holiday-themed book in the series begun in 1962 ends with everyone learning a very important lesson, just like always.

    The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving at amazon.com, $3.99

  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
    Remember this one from when you were a kid? Older children will love this 1972 classic, in which the six misbehaving Herdman kids—the "worst kids in the entire history of the world"—take over the church pageant and reinterpret the story of Christmas. The mix of outrageous moments, hilarious hijinks and profound surprises makes this one read parents will love as much as kids.

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever from amazon.com, $5.99

  • Amazon.com

    Dream Snow
    Lovers of Eric Carle's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar will recognize the same iconic collage illustrations in this wintry tale about a farmer who dreams about a white Christmas. Like Caterpillar, the pages hold extra interest for young readers, with cutouts and counting.

    Dream Snow from amazon.com, $22

  • Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa
    Brer Rabbit meets African tradition in this tale of a rabbit looking for something special to give his sick grandmother for Karamu, the Kwanzaa feast.

    Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa from amazon.com, $12.99

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    What would Christmas be without the Grinch? Kids love the dastardly character, who plots to cancel the holiday, only to find it happens anyway, even without the presents. Grinch-loving kiddos will go for the animated and live-action movie versions too.

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas from bn.com, $15

  • Olivia Helps With Christmas
    The plucky piglet gets her house ready for Christmas, "helping" her parents in the most unhelpful ways possible. The charming black and white illustrations—punctuated with green and red accents for the holidays—play off the spare words to tell the whole story.

    Olivia Helps With Christmas at bn.com, $11.75

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
    You may think that October 31 is way too early to start thinking about Christmas, but the two holidays collide in this book based on the movie of the same name, both by Tim Burton. Bored with the tricks of Halloween, a skeleton sets out to take over as Santa—a story told in rhyme and illustrated with spooky drawings.

    The Nightmare Before Christmas from bn.com, $16.99

  • Happy Hanukkah, Corduroy
    The sweet stuffed bear in overalls offers toddlers an introduction to the traditions of Hanukkah, from lighting the menorah and hunting for gelt to playing dreidel.

    Happy Hanukkah, Corduroy from amazon.com, $5.99

  • Snowmen at Christmas
    The secret life of snowmen is revealed in this gorgeously illustrated tale. Snow families gather in the town square, sing carols and get their own visit from "the snowman Kris Kringle" before re-assuming their positions in the front yard as dawn breaks.

    Snowmen at Christmas from bn.com, $16.99

  • Santa Mouse
    A lonely little mouse realizes Santa is always giving presents but never gets them, so he leaves a gift. His thoughtfulness is rewarded when he becomes Santa's little—very little—helper.

    Santa Mouse from bn.com, $5.98

  • Olive, the Other Reindeer
    When Olive the dog hears the phrase from the popular Christmas tune "all of the other reindeer," she concludes she is "Olive, the other reindeer" and heads to the North Pole to join Santa's team. Doggie hijinks ensue.

    Olive, the Other Reindeer from bn.com, $15.99

  • The Polar Express
    This tale of children hopping on a night train to visit Santa at the North Pole is pure holiday magic, and the book comes with a DVD of the story read by Liam Neeson—ideal for holiday car rides or to help excited kids drift off on Christmas Eve.

    The Polar Express from bn.com, $18.95

  • Angel Pig and the Hidden Christmas
    The plot of this tale hits close to home in these uncertain economic times: A family of porkers thinks Christmas is ruined because they don't have money to buy "jeans and sneakers with fancy brand names" at the mall. Then a sneaker-wearing angel appears, encouraging them to make and bake gifts instead, and teaches them what gift-giving is really about.

    Angel Pig and the Hidden Christmas from amazon.com, $6.99

  • The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah
    Those who don't celebrate Christmas deserve their own Grinch-like holiday curmudgeon. Although it's hard to top Dr. Suess's creativity, this story of a grump who learns the true meaning of Hanukkah is still a fun read.

    The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah from bn.com, $16.99

  • The Wild Christmas Reindeer
    The highlight of this tale about an elf charged with training Santa's reindeer for their annual Christmas ride is the rich artwork by author-artist Jan Brett. Intricate scenes of elf workers busily prepping for the big day frame the main story, so kids discover something with each reading.

    The Wild Christmas Reindeer from amazon.com, $6.99

  • Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bell, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May)
    Kids love Junie B because she speaks their language—grammatical errors, G-rated bad words and all. The irrepressible Junie B. tangles with class tattletale May in this holiday version of the popular series, and then it gets "worser:" she finds out she has to be May's secret Santa. Will she get into the Christmas spirit?

    Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bell, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) from bn.com, $6.99

  • Dinosaur's Night Before Christmas
    Is your kid a dino nut? Then he'll love this tale of a boy who asked for a pet T-Rex, who ends up gobbling Santa and taking over as St. Nick. Kids will delight in seeing a team of flying dinosaurs pulling the sleigh and knowing—phew—Santa gets out okay in the end.

    Dinosaur's Night Before Christmas from amazon.com, $16.99

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