The Holidays can be a great time for reading. I know life gets extremely busy, but that makes down time even more necessary. Also, there is often time to fill and a need for entertainment at parties and get-togethers. Instead of relying on movies or video games, try the old-fashioned tradition of reading out loud. Books can be very engaging if you have material for the right age groups and if you put a little personality into your reading. There are several holiday classics as well as non-holiday books to read together. I’ve included a list of some of my favorites. You can click on the titles to find a more extensive review.
Holiday Stories for All Ages
- The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote
- Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen (picture book)
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
- The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin (a warning to those with tender hearts, this story has a bittersweet ending and might bring tears)
- The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech (this isn’t a holiday story, but has a good holiday message)
Holiday Stories for Children 10 and up
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Non-Holiday Books with Broad Family Appeal (these we read with my 3, 5 and 9-year-olds)
- The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy by William Boniface
- Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
- Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
- Zorgamazoo by Paul Weston
- The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer
Mother / Daughter Reading
- The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
- Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
- The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker
- Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Books for Tweens and Teens (10-18)
- Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
- Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
- The Wish List by Eoin Colfer
- The Bridge to Never Land by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
- Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Halmark’s made for TV movie has made the story of the Herdmans well known, but the book is even more priceless and touching than the movie. When the town’s most rowdy and dysfunctional family takes all the lead roles in the church Christmas Pageant, it appears as if the show will be a disaster. However, as the Herdmans learn ABOUT Jesus, they teach everyone about the true Spirit of Christmas. This is a wonderful, humorous, and touching story, perfect for reading as a family during the month of December.
I don’t usually review picture books, but this is a classic Thanksgiving story perfect for many different ages. Molly and her family are immigrants in America in the early 1900s. Because of her accent and interesting clothes, Molly is teased by other students in school. For a Thanksgiving project, she is told to make a pilgrim clothespin doll. After hearing an explanation of Pilgrims, Molly’s mother makes the doll to look like her. This is a sweet story about all kinds of pilgrims in America.
This is a nostalgic look at Thanksgiving in 1932 told from the viewpoint of 9-year-old Buddy. Growing up in a small Alabama town, Buddy’s best friends are his dog Queenie and his 60-year-old cousin, Miss Sook. His friendship with Miss Sook is put to the test when she insists on inviting the school bully, Odd Henderson, to Thanksgiving dinner. Through this experience, Buddy learns the importance of suspending judgment and extending forgiveness. This short story is perfect for reading out loud together after a good feast.
This Christmas classic has been remade in many forms, but how often do we look at the original. Dickens’s vocabulary might be too sophisticated for younger children, but the story is well known and easy to follow. Try reading about the original Ebineezer Scrooge and his ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.
This story is the classic tale of sacrificing what you love most in order to give to the ones you love. A short and beautifully written story, this would be most appreciated by children 10 and older.
This Christmas classic tells the story of the Bird family and their youngest daughter Carol. Born on Christmas Day, Carol has a loving nature and a giving heart. However, she also suffers from chronic illness. For her tenth birthday, Carol’s one wish is to give a proper Christmas to their less fortunate neighbors. A sweet story of giving, but be aware of a tender and bittersweet ending.