Every year, I make sure that my kids find a selection of books underneath the tree. The latest toy with all the bells and whistles and batteries may get the most attention on Christmas Day, but the books that I pick out for the girls will be pulled out at bedtime, Saturday mornings, and rainy afternoons for months and years to come.
Here are some of the books they’ll be reading with me, courtesy of our friends at Raincoast Books. Scroll all the way down to enter to win a selection of these for your own kids!
Click on the titles or cover pictures to see these books on Amazon.
The 12 Sleighs of Christmas by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Jake Parker
Uh-oh! With only two weeks left before the big day, Santa’s elves discover that his sleigh is “totaled, smashed, and battered!” What a disaster! Or maybe… it’s an opportunity to design and build a brand new sleigh for Santa. The elves get busy creating a dozen fantastic designs: a high-speed dragster sled, a big rig sled complete with sleeper cab, a floating ship with 50 sails and a telescoping arm to drop gifts down the chimney, a blimp/rocket/hot rod mash-up, and so on. The elves come up with all sorts of wacky vehicle ideas, each bigger and better than the previous.
Santa arrives to judge the sled contest but nothing seems just right, until one small elf shows off his secret project – Santa’s original reindeer-powered sleigh fixed up and ready to go. That’s it! As Santa leaves on his annual Christmas Eve pilgrimage in his traditional ride, the elves decide to have a giant race across the snowy North Pole.
Bright, colourful illustrations and lots of details throughout the page will capture children’s attention. Maybe they’ll be inspired to design their own unique vehicle! (Suggested ages 4-8 years.)
Lines by Suzy Lee
Not all stories need words, and this is one of them. As we “read” through the book, the story unfolds through expressive pencil strokes and a few pops of colour.
Our story starts with a single skater, gliding and leaping across the ice, leaving eponymous lines across the page. At first she rejoices in her freedom as she jumps and twirls. But then she falls, and the ice turns out to be only a sheet of paper, crumpled up in frustration. On the next pages, the wrinkled paper is flattened out and the lonely little girl is joined by another child, and then another and another, until the ice is full of children skating and playing. The final page shows our original skater laughing in a long conga line, skating around a frozen pond with her new friends.
Each page encourages your child to become the storyteller. How does the little girl feel when she has the whole pond to herself to skate and twirl with abandon? What happens when she falls? Who are all these children who join her on the ice? And how does this wintry day turn out in the end? (Suggested ages 4-8.)
Imagine by John Lennon, illustrated by Jean Jullien
“Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”
The full lyrics of John Lennon’s classic song “Imagine” are reproduced in this beautiful picture book following the journey of one small pigeon as he spreads a message of peace and love across the world. He mediates between two seagulls fighting over a fish, intervenes between two hummingbirds fighting over a flower, and makes friends wherever he goes. The last pages of the book show our pigeon lying exhausted on a branch, while the silhouettes of other birds fly across the sky as they continue his work. They’ve joined him, and the world will be as one.
My girls have fallen in love with this book and this song. They love to have me sing the book to them, and I appreciate the opening for us to talk about the small ways that we can spread peace, kindness, and unity in our lives. Includes a foreword by Yoko Ono Lennon and an afterword from Amnesty International. (Suggested ages 4-8.)
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Nowadays, families come in all shapes and flavours. The family in this story is headed by an Indian mom and a Jewish dad. The little boy attends Hebrew school and visits the Indian market with his family to buy supplies for making dosas, an Indian pancake, to eat at Hannukkah. Little sister Sadie climbs all over everything and gets in trouble all the time, but her big brother stumbles onto a way to get her to listen. He changes the words of the traditional dreidl song to, “I had a little dosa; I made it out of dal.” Eventually, Sadie’s talent for climbing comes in handy when the family gets locked out of the house on the first day of Hanukkah.
A story about family, blending traditions, and learning to find the silver lining, even in little sisters. The book also includes recipes for dosas and sambar dip at the end for families to make together. (Suggested ages 4-8.)
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
While not a holiday-themed book on the surface, Wishtree’s themes of love, inclusion, hope, and kindness are very appropriate for this time of year. This beautiful and thoughtful story is told from the viewpoint of Red, a northern red oak tree, the oldest resident in its community and home to many birds and animals. Red is also known as a wishtree. For generations, people have written their wishes on pieces of cloth or paper and tied them to Red’s branches.
A young Muslim girl named Samar has just moved into the neighbourhood with her family, but some of her new neighbours are less than welcoming. Samar wishes for a friend, and Red and Bongo the Crow attempt to make her wish come true. Weaving two different immigrant stories – that of present-day Samar, and Maeve, another girl who immigrated from Ireland many years earlier – Red narrates a story about the power of hope, loyalty, and friendship. Short chapters make it easy to read and to read together, and its message is especially appropriate in these times. (Suggested ages 8-12.)
Win a Holiday Book!
One lucky This West Coast Mommy reader will win one of the books we reviewed from Raincoast Books. Winner can choose from Lines, The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, Imagine, or Wishtree (sorry, Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas is not available).
Enter to win in the giveaway widget below. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, 18+. All the winner’s entries will be verified. Prize delivery is not guaranteed by Christmas, so please plan accordingly.
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Disclosure: I received sample items to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. This West Coast Mommy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no additional cost to you. This income helps pay for the operating costs of my website – thank you for your support!