9 Favorite Hanukkah and Christmas Books to Share with Kids

Nothing suits this season's cold nights and family togetherness more perfectly than snuggling up all cozy together to marvel at beautiful illustrations, funny tales, and holiday magic on the pages of a favorite book. We've picked out some of our favorite books celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas. Share yours in the comments.




The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story
Dan Handler aka Lemony Snicket has a witty way with words in this offbeat and off-kilter tale of an oft-screaming latke that bolts the pan, wanting to avoid getting eaten at all costs. On his journey the poor, perpetually misunderstood latke encounters classic icons of Christmas (colored lights, a candy cane, etc).  Lisa Brown's droll drawings are poifect.  (Also give Lemony Snicket's The Lump of Coal a whirl--smudgy metaphors aside, it's a gem.)

Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman with Maurice Sendak
While most written versions of Nutcracker focus primarily on the ballet-inspired sugar-plum-sweet scenes while high-glossing over the far more interesting yet darker details of the original story, in this version they went back to the German source text and restored to us the full, grandiose, Mabusian tale of captivating intrigue, malevolent misdeed, and mystifying magic.  It's awesome. Maurice Sendak's illustrations brilliantly capture the story's powerful exploration of good and evil, darkness and light, dream and reality with bold, colorful, clever and utterly memorable imagery. Some content may be a bit too much for the under-5-set (not to give it away, but Mouse King loses his 7 heads the hard way), but older kids will totally dig it.

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah
One of our very favorite author-illustrators, Barbara McClintock, teams up with writer Eric Kimmel to produce a charming seven-in-one-blow style tale of triumph against all odds (so nu?). You'll recognize the ornate setting, NYC's own Eldridge St. Synagogue.  And you'll cheer on the fearless feats of the miniature but mighty Mindy Klein (kleine meaning little in yiddish) who bravely risks life and limb to make sure her family will have lights for the holiday menorah. The warm humor of the story blends perfectly with Ms McClintock's golden-hued, lushly detailed antique" illustrations, which offer clever surprises for sharp-eyed young readers.

William Wegman's The Night Before Christmas
An all weimaraner cast offers up Wegman's delightful take on the fabled story of Santa's enchanted evening visit. Cleverly Ingeniously staged photos illustrate the classic Clement C Moore poem. Hundreds of biscuits went into the making of this book--and even the tots will adore it. (4 paws up!)


The Classic Frosty The Snowman
Over the years this holiday literary favorite (based on the catchy song of the same name) has been issued and reissued, but no other version holds a corncob pipe to the original 1951 Frosty with its charmingly retro Norman-Rockwell-esque illustrations by Corinne Malvern. Luckily, you'll can still find it in Golden Book version or larger format.  It'll make you and your kids wanna put on one of those impossibly bulky snowsuits and spend an entire day outside in your own winter wonderland.

Babar and Father Christmas
Completely charming tale by original Barbar creator Jean de Brunhoff. Babar goes searching for the jolly man in red to let him know that little elephant children want a visit from Father Christmas too.

Madeline's Christmas
When an exotic rug merchant arrives at the door on Christmas eve, thoughtful Madeline lets him in, thinking that buying 12 little rugs for 12 little sets of chilly toes would be nice. And nice it is, but in a world where magic carpets can fly, Madeline is completely unprepared for the marvelous holiday surprises that await her and her schoolmates. The story was originally published in 1956 as a special holiday magazine insert for McCalls magazine, but luckily it's wider appeal was recognized and you can now get it in hardcover.

Eloise At Christmastime
Jingle here, jingle there, it's absolutely Christmas everywhere! as Eloise once again takes mischievous charge of the Plaza. If she were real we'd probably be appalled at her antics (like writing a giant Merry Christmas on the plaza walls!), but as fictional confection she's a very sweet treat indeed.  If you love the first Eloise book you'll find Eloise and her absolutely best friend in the whole world, Nanny, in fine form.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Seuss's heartfelt message ascends far beyond Who-ville to reach all of us and he's so dang clever and goofy in the telling it never seems sentimental or corny.  Everyone knows the classic Chuck Jones movie but the somewhat lesser known 1957 book is every bit as delectable as a second helping of Who Pudding.


Find other holiday ideas in our Holiday Guide, and gift ideas in our NYC Shopping Local Gift Guide.


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