10 Books for Young Readers at Christmas Time
1. The Nativity
by Ruth Sanderson
A visually stunning portrayal of the Biblical Christmas Story
For centuries the Gospels have told the story of the birth of Christ to people young and old throughout the world.
From the breathtaking appearance of the angel Gabriel to the arduous journey of the wise men, from the chilling decree of Herod to the return of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to Nazareth, the Nativity story has gripped and enthralled the hearts of millions.
This beloved story becomes even more vivid through the luminous, detailed paintings of artist Ruth Sanderson.
The Nativity pairs select passages from Matthew and Luke (in the familiar King James Version) with Sanderson’s illustrations, displaying text and art on expansive two-page spreads. Also incorporating elaborate borders that recall medieval manuscripts, this beautiful volume is a book to be treasured and shared with family and friends.
by Lee Bennett Hopkins & Helen Cann
A delightful retelling of the Christmas story from the perspective of animals
There is a legend that describes how, at midnight on Christmas Eve, all creatures are granted the power of speech for one hour.
In this rich collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins and a dozen other poets imagine what responses they might offer.
The poems represent a diverse group of animals, but all come together with one singular purpose: celebrating the joy of the miraculous event.
This collection of graceful poems provides readers with a Nativity story unlike any other — at times gently humorous, at times profound, but always inviting readers to appreciate the wonder of Christmas.
This book is a perfect gift for the holiday season.
Watch the trailer on YouTube.
Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“A lovely collection for those who wish to emphasize the Christian nature of the holiday, worth savoring slowly during the Christmas season.”
The Horn Book
“The poems convey both the majesty and intimacy of that night [when Christ was born]. Decorative mixed-media illustrations highlight each animal on its own double-page spread.”
3. Mary’s Song
by Lee Bennett Hopkins & Stephen Alcorn
A welcome pause from holiday bustle to reflect on the meaning of Christmas
On that first Christmas night, the earth bursts with praise at the Savior’s birth. Donkeys bray, sheep bleat, horses neigh, and shepherds come from nearby fields — but Mary simply wants to be alone with her sweet baby.
When quiet finally falls, Mary cradles her son and sings her mother- song, leaving readers dreaming of that silent night so long ago.
Mary’s Song, with its melodic language and rich illustrations, is a lovely reminder of the meaning of Christmas and a welcome pause in the midst of a bustling world.
When quiet finally falls, Mary cradles her son and sings her mother-song, leaving readers dreaming of that silent night so long ago.
Watch the trailer on YouTube.
by Anselm Grun & Giullano Ferri
A simple and graceful biography of the true saint
Many stories are told about Saint Nicholas—stories about his generosity and his miracles, stories about the concern he showed for those in poverty.
This warm, inviting books tells many of these stories, both familiar and lesser- known.
It recounts how he ended a famine by multiplying grain from a merchant ship and how he walked on water to rescue sailors from a terrible storm.
And, of course, it tells the story of how Nicholas gave his inheritance to prevent a desperate man from selling his daughters into slavery.
Anselm Grün’s simple, graceful text and Giuliano Ferri’s beautiful paintings combine to provide the perfect way to introduce young readers to the rich life of this beloved saint.
Christian Library Journal
“Anselm Grun’s writing style is simple and to the point as he unfolds the tales of Saint Nicholas. Though he presents several stories from Nicholas’s life, the story flows smoothly from event to event.”
The Horn Book
“Beautifully illustrated. . . . Luminous paintings on full-bleed double-page spreads capture the saint’s humanity as well as the Greek-Turkish Mediterranean setting.”
A mysterious cloak and a crowded inn in a town called Bethlehem
The wind groaned and swirled that night and likely it seemed to tear
the thatch from the roof. But when the baby gave her first cry, the
wind shushed to a whisper and the stars began to sing
Brigid’s Cloak retells an ancient tale about one of Ireland’s most beloved saints. On the day she is born Brigid receives a brilliant blue cloak from a mysterious Druid.
Years later, the young girl still wears the now tattered but beloved cloak while she tends her sheep. Is it her imagination that suddenly takes her to an unfamiliar land? Or is it something far greater that leads Brigid to a crowded inn in a town called Bethlehem?
Bryce Milligan’s eloquently told story about Brigid is a moving tale of compassion and wonder. Beautifully illustrated by Helen Cann, Brigid’s Cloak sparkles with the timelessness of legend and the transcending power of faith.
An elegant retelling of Mary, Jesus, and the original Christmas story
This graceful retelling of the life of Jesus takes readers back over two thousand years ago to Nazareth, a young girl named Mary, and a miraculous virgin birth.
The story continues through the years as Jesus grows up, learns among the great teachers of his day, calls his disciples, preaches, and performs miracles.
The book concludes with Jesus’ last Passover meal, betrayal, crucifixion, and glorious resurrection.
Anselm Grün’s accessible descriptions, along with warm, inviting paintings from Giuliano Ferri, together create a beautiful picture of the life of Jesus.
St. Anthony Messenger
“Children will be drawn into the story of Jesus of Nazareth with this offering. . . . Its warm-toned illustrations and accessible storytelling bring to life Jesus’ journey from a humble manger to his glorious resurrection.”
The Living Church
“This book does an admirable job of simply telling the gospel story. . . . Grün’s text uses ordinary, not elevated language, but it is always nimble and never clunky. Ferri’s illustrations offer an appealing and coherent visual context for the telling.”
A king, his page, and a poor man experience a Christmas miracle
Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the Feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about,
deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fuel.
This story, based on actual events that occurred in the tenth century, tells of a kind-hearted king and his page who set out to help a poor man on a cold winter’s night and experience a miracle along the way.
Tim Ladwig’s energetic paintings bring new life to the familiar words and remind readers of all ages that helping others is a blessing.
New York Times Book Review
“The carol’s lyrics, pleasingly antiquated and rousingly celebratory about the act of giving, offer a challenge to the consumer frenzy that beckons every boy and girl, naughty or nice, each December.”
The Horn Book Guide
“The visual presentation of this traditional Christmas carol will awaken new readers to its story. . . . The contrast in the mixed-media art between the barren winter landscapes and the hearth-warmed kitchens of cottage and castle is lovely.”
A Christmas tale that keeps getting bigger
As Mr. Butterfield carves a Jesse Tree in a dusty old church, a curious young boy distracts him by asking about the various symbols on the tree.
Against his inclination, the gruff old man finds himself retelling the familiar biblical tales that trace the family tree of Christ, from the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ birth. Under the carpenter’s skilled hands, the Jesse Tree grows — and an unlikely friendship begins to take root as well.
Geraldine McCaughrean’s fresh retellings of familiar Bible events and Bee Willey’s whimsical and striking illustrations create a rich and contemporary tale that will captivate readers who know and love these stories as well as readers who are discovering them for the first time.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this finely crafted anthology, McCaughrean weaves lively retellings of Bible stories into a clever overarching narrative framework that will keep readers hooked. . . McCaughrean’s tales have a leisurely pace and accessible language and tone. . . .Willey’s dramatic spot art toggles between Biblical and modern scenes, emphasizing the colorful scope of the carpenter’s project.”
A selfless child takes responsibility
Eleven-year-old Emma is disappointed when she learns her mother, a doctor, has to deliver a baby on Christmas Day. But when she arrives with Mama at the house, Emma realizes she isn’t the only one whose Christmas has been interrupted.
Young Hansie and Will are sad about missing the holiday and anxious about their new sibling’s arrival. Overcoming her own feelings of frustration, Emma works to create a special Christmas that the two young children won’t forget.
With warm pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, this Christmas story offers a glimpse of life on the prairie in the 1800s. And, like Emma, young readers will be reminded that easing someone else’s pain can often help ease their own.
10. The Golden Key
A story of mystery and delight for a season of mystery and delight
When young Mossy hears the legend that anyone who manages to find the end of a rainbow will be rewarded with a golden key, he becomes determined to do exactly that.
But finding the golden key is the easy part — discovering what it unlocks is a much harder task. Together with a runaway girl named Tangle, the two set out to find the key’s purpose — and discover their own along the way.
George MacDonald’s beloved fairytale is brought to life by Ruth Sanderson’s sumptuous illustrations, making this a perfect gift for readers of all ages.
“Sanderson’s black-and-white illustrations play on the story’s motif of light and darkness as she skillfully depicts the children’s journey through fairyland. . . . Beautifully presented.”
“Beautifully illustrated by Ruth Sanderson, this classic Victorian fairy tale will capture the imagination of adventurers of all ages.”