Top 10 Holiday Read-Alouds
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
The end of a calendar year brings top ten lists that cover everything from songs and movies, to children's names and fashion fads. Here is my list of the top ten holiday read-alouds.
10. How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky
This book is Santa’s backstory. After lots of research, Stephen Krensky has blown the cover off of how Santa learned all the skills that the jolly, bearded man would need to become the Santa that we know and love today. While reading this book, I love watching the kids’ eyes light up as they realize how each job helps him become Santa. There are lots of places for students to make inferences and predictions while you read this well-thought-out story.
9. The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark
This is a hilarious take on the Christmas classic, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Your kids will laugh out loud as you sing this silly version's alliterations. Every year, my kids love singing along, especially with “Five Goldfish.”
8. The Sounds of Kwanzaa by Dimitrea Tokunbo
“Come close, gather round. Listen to the sound of Kwanzaa,” is how each page of this colorful book begins. It explains the meaning of each of the seven candles, which represent the seven guiding principles that Kwanzaa celebrates. The book also includes a very informative author’s note and bibliography for those who want to read more about the celebration.
7. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! by Lucille Colandro
We all get hungry from time to time but this old lady is not only crazy hungry, she is also adored by all who read about her. What will she be swallowing next? This entry into the series ends with Santa and old lady flying off on a loaded sleigh and wishing “Happy Holidays to all!”
6. Hoppy Hanukkah! by Linda Glaser
This is the cutest little book about a bunny family and all of their Hanukkah traditions. The reader is introduced to the menorah, potato latkes, the dreidel, and Hanukkah presents along with the bunny family babies, Simon and Violet. The author conveys the importance of these traditions in a very kid-friendly manner.
5. Jingle Bells by Iza Trapani
This book made it into my top five because it’s a wonderful introduction to how other cultures around the world celebrate the holidays. On the third page you read, “See and compare how other countries celebrate the Christmas season there.” You travel to Mexico, Sweden, the Philippines, Poland, Italy, and Kenya in short, informative stanzas and detailed pictures. After the story there is a page that goes more in-depth about each country's tradition.
4. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin
Kids love Christmas and Pete the Cat, so what’s not to love about this book? There is the catchy Pete the Cat refrain (my kids are still singing, “My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons” from when we read Pete the Cat and the Four Groovy Buttons in September) that we all have come to expect from Pete. The message that no matter how big or small you are, you can still make a difference is a great main idea and an added bonus to this groovy Christmas story.
3. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
I love books with big characters and big voices. I absolutely adore this book because it’s the opposite of those things. Karma Wilson’s Bear series is a loveable collection that we visit throughout the year, but this book in particular has a quietness about it that makes you feel like you need to read it in a whisper. The spirit of the season has a strong presence in this beautiful book. The kids are immediately hooked because they know Bear from other books and they love for me to stop reading and let them chorus in “the bear stays up.”
2. The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon
David Shannon is my favorite children’s author. He is our first author of the month each year in my classroom as I described in my Author of the Month blog post. I love revisiting familiar characters throughout the year but I also love pulling out seasonal books by authors that we have previously studied. This story is great but the illustrations are what bring it to life. The borders of the pages start out plain. As the Merriweather house becomes more and more decorated (to the displeasure of their neighbors), so do the borders around the text. Shannon is a great writer, but his illustrations steal the show in this book.
1. The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing
My all-time favorite read-aloud is hilarious. I probably could recite more of this book than I could the original The Night Before Christmas. There is a mom with the flu, I get to scream “Bad kitty!," the baby of the family goes to the bathroom on Santa, and the main character asks the eternal question, “What on earth is a sugarplum? Is it a candy or a prune?” The book ends with the family realizing that Christmas is about family and love. That is my wish for my students, and for you, dear reader.
Being a lover of top ten lists, I know that you probably have a read-aloud book that didn’t make my list! I hope that you will take a moment and share some great books that I missed.
Happy Holidays and I can’t wait to see you in 2014!
Brian Smith will return to the Top Teaching blog on January 6th.