The tree is sparkling, gifts are wrapped, and holiday cookies are prepared, but it feels like something is missing. Somewhere in between the hustle of shopping and the bustle of baking, your Christmas spirit feels swept away in the whirlwind of busyness. Or maybe your children are driving you wild with constant overexcited, sugar-fueled cries of "I want" and "Give me!" (Or, maybe that’s just our house?)
Fortunately, it’s easy to infuse a bit more Christmas spirit in your home. My own prescription includes a hefty dose of slow-down, a heaping tablespoon (or two) of family time, and a nightly story that inspires us all to reflect upon what’s truly important this season: joy, gratitude, togetherness, tradition, and a sprinkle childhood wonder and magic. Here are seven book suggestions to to spark heartfelt conversations with your child about the true meaning of Christmas:
1. The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty is a sweet story for younger family members. They’ll love Oliver, the littlest elf, who is super excited to discover what his special job in Santa’s workshop will be. But when it's decided that he's too small to fill any of the available positions, Oliver creates a very special job for himself — one that brings joy to all those around him.
2. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson is the touching tale of loving Stick dad who, when separated from his family, faces many dangers as he desperately searches to find a way back home to his loved ones. Will he make it in time for Christmas? This tale is a wonderful reminder that nothing is more important than simply being present with your family.
3. In Pig the Elf, Aaron Blabey’s very funny pug named Pig decides to stay up all night to get his gifts…but he’s not at all happy with those Santa delivers! This book is a fun way to talk to kids about right-sized expectations, not getting everything you want, and being grateful for what you receive.
4. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is a beautiful, quiet tale about a girl and her father on a snowy, nighttime adventure. The story is a powerful reminder of the important role family traditions play throughout the lives of our children.
5. The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson is a gentle, loving story inspired by the magic of the holidays. As Christmas Eve draws near, we join Santa as he readies his reindeer and sleigh and prepares for the magic of Christmas to arrive. Santa's routine will spark your little one's imagination, and the love that fuels his journey will warm their hearts.
6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas shares the story of the mean, grumpy Grinch who hates everything about Christmas. He sneaks into the houses of his neighbors in Whoville to steal their gifts, food, and trees. But when the residents of Whoville come together to celebrate despite his actions, the Grinch discovers there is much more to the true meaning of Christmas than presents and decorations.
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7. The Polar Express, a celebrated classic by Chris Van Allsburg, follows a young boy who is beginning to question the existence of Santa on a magical Christmas eve journey to the North Pole. Through the gift of a silver bell, which some can hear and some cannot, children learn the power of believing in good things.
If you're looking for even more inspirational books to share, check out 9 Books to Help Teach Kids an Attitude of Gratitude and 12 Gratitude Quotes From Children’s Books That'll Warm Your Heart.