Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Favorite Non-Santa Christmas Picture Books

Only 2 weeks until Christmas!! Right after Thanksgiving we went to the library and raided the Christmas book display. I think it had just gone up, because we got a whole bunch of great books that I would have thought others would have taken!

Our library has a 3-week checkout, so those books are going to come due soon. I'm debating whether to renew them or bring them back so other families can enjoy them before Christmas. Maybe you've gone to the library recently and noticed their selection is thin -- well maybe they will be returning soon too! You can always put in a request so you'll be next in line for them, or if nothing else, get your list ready for next year. :)

Our family doesn't push Santa one way or the other -- our kids know gifts come from us, but we don't shelter them from anything Santa-related. We watched and read The Polar Express last weekend, and they understand the concept of "pretend" pretty well.

Our "kindness monkeys" -  a tradition we do each December.
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That being said, we do often choose books to read that don't have Santa as the main focus. We've collected a few as gifts over the years, and get others from the library. Here's a list of some of our favorite non-Santa Christmas books!

What is fancier than Christmas decorations?? Nancy tells about some of the things her family does to get ready for the big day. Then when something goes wrong on Christmas Eve, a family member shows her how to use her fancy-ness to make things right. My girls love all Fancy Nancy books, though surprisingly they're not as into playing dress-up as other girls we know.

Laura Numeroff will always be one of my absolute favorite children's authors. When Abby turned 2 we had a birthday party themed around If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This book features Christmas trees, snowball fights, ornament making and more, in the classic cause-and-effect style of all the mouse (and friends) books.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
My kids have been asking for weeks how many days are left until Christmas (we'll be making a paper chain soon). Little Llama goes through all of the activities leading up to Christmas like shopping, cookies, and crafts at school. But like any preschooler, he gets SO sick of waiting that he finally has a meltdown. And Mama Llama comes to the rescue once again, ending the book with warm fuzzy snuggles.

Frosty the Snowman by Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins
I discovered this one at the library last year, it is simply the classic Frosty song that's been illustrated. The inside of the front and back covers have the music for the song. Sometimes our girls ask us to read the book, sometimes they ask us to sing it. I forgot after seeing the movie so many times that Santa actually isn't part of the original song!

Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
Someone gifted this book to us the year I was pregnant with Abby, and so it began our collection of Christmas picture books. Mortimer looks for a new home because his hole in the wall is too cramped and cold. He discovers a nativity scene set on a table by the Christmas tree, and moves in - moving all of the statues out. Eventually he hears the Christmas story, and has a difficult decision to make about his home. I'll be reading this book to Abby's kindergarten class next week (yay, I've missed doing storytime!). 

And a few other favorites that do have a brief mention of Santa giving gifts, but that's not the overall theme of the book:

This monster reminds me a bit of Sully from Monsters Inc. -- big and blue, and does fun things with his human friend. It's almost Christmas and Monster needs a tree, but with so many other fun things to do around town he might not make it to the tree place in time. I love books with nice rhythmic rhyming, and this book (and the other two "Monster and Me" books) do a fantastic job. 

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
We've only had one day with accumulating snow so far (crazy for Michigan - it's supposed to be 60* on Sunday!!), and so this book isn't as fun this year as it has been in the past. I remember reading this and then the girls imagining what their own snowman in the front yard would do in the dark on Christmas Eve.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
All of the How Do Dinosaurs... books have a lesson to be learned, and kids love seeing the dinos acting badly in the beginning of the book. But there's always that turning point of what the dinos should do instead. It helps kids learn, for example, not to "pick off some ornaments, angels and all" but instead "He eats all his dinner, then clears away dishes." The old fashioned illustrations are fun too, with detailed dinosaurs (and each page has the name of the dinosaur drawn into the picture).

Adapted from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I started reading aloud the Little House books with Abby about a year and a half ago, but then school and no-more-napping got in the way of our daily chapter. We did make it through the first couple of books though, and this picture book is an adaptation of the chapters about Christmas from Little House in the Big Woods. It's good for kids to know what life was like not all that long ago, and how the children were so happy to receive only one special gift. 

What other books do you recommend I add to my list?

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  1. How did I not know about the Fancy Nancy Christmas book?! Our library doesn't have that one. Might have to request it . . . And you wrote this entry before coming to my house with your little dress-up fanatics today, didn't you? Haha.

    1. Ohh your girls would love the Fancy Nancy book! And yes... I couldn't believe they were playing dress-up. Guess I'd better dig out the skirts and things I packed away! :)

  2. I have read and reviewed a couple of those books. I think I will have to look for some of the others. Great list and thanks for posting them.

  3. I need to look into the Llama Llama books, I love the cover Illustrations! This will link to my main blog, but if you click Children's BoOkS on the pages bar it will take you to my Tickling Dragons page. :)