Do your family’s Christmas traditions include stories and reading? Do you have some special books you pull out and enjoy together year after year?
Here are some of our long-standing favourite Christmas picture books, plus a few new ones we’re looking at adding to the mix. (Click on the titles or cover images below for more information about each book.)
Stories to read aloud
In Slinky Malinky’s Christmas Crackers, one of our favourite Lynley Dodd feline characters gets up to mischief with the Christmas tree. With Dodd’s characteristic bouncing rhyming text, this is a complete joy to read aloud!
Julia Donaldson is another of our favourite authors to read aloud, and The Stick Man is a winning tale of peril, in which the Stick Man is torn away from his loving family and caught up in adventures like being thrown to a dog, used as a pooh stick and becoming part of a bird nest. Can he find his way home for Christmas, with the help of Santa?
Wombat Divine is a gorgeous Australian take on the traditional nativity play. Can you guess which part in the play is just perfect for a sleepy wombat? So charming, it makes me tear up just a little bit.
Lizzie Durnan, Better Reading’s website editor, recalls her young daughter reading Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo over and over again in the lead up to Christmas. It’s a really heartwarming story about the joy of giving and receiving.
We also love sharing more traditional rhymes and stories. For example, twenty-something Better Reading staffer Genevieve remembers her dad reading The Night Before Christmas aloud each Christmas Eve, and she can still recite much of the poem by heart. There are many editions of this available: I used to read a lovely version with a red fabric cover to my nephews, and the one featured here is a cute mini hardcover with stunning illustrations by Angela Barrett.
The Nutcracker is another classic favourite – especially with the ballet girls out there – and this year Walker Books have published a new edition with a pop-up spread at the end.
Aussie versions of songs and rhymes
In my family, we have a couple of old CDs (and even cassettes!) we love to play while we wrap our presents, as well as on Christmas Day itself. One of them is full of Aussie versions of carols and poems, which make all of us laugh while we sing along.
We like the uniquely Australian takes on the traditional ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ song in Christmas at Grandma’s Beach House (depicting all the activities kids and families enjoy on trips to the sea) and Twelve Days of Christmas Island (perhaps better known as the location of an immigration detention centre, Christmas Island is also home to hundreds of species of birds, plants and wildlife!).
And John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia is a book version of his popular song about a family trying to snap the ultimate photo. Have a listen to the song (available on YouTube) while you enjoy Mitch Vane’s very detailed, humorous illustrations.
Visiting the Christmas windows
If one of your family’s traditions is visiting the department store Christmas windows, you might recognise the characters and art in Reindeer’s Christmas Surprise and Little Dog and the Christmas Wish.
Ursula Dubosarsky and Sue deGennaro created the delightful Reindeer and his friends Cat, Dog and Guinea Pig for the David Jones Sydney windows in 2014. And this year’s Myer Melbourne Windows are based on Corinne Fenton and Robin Cowcher’s story of Little Dog trying to find his way home for Christmas.
Share a giggle in the lead up to Christmas with There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star, one of a series based on the ‘Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’ rhyme, which kids find hilarious. Or, There is a Monster Under My Christmas Tree Who Farts, perfectly pitched for kids (boys especially) of around four.
We also adore The Naughtiest Reindeer, in which Rudolf falls ill and his very naughty sister Ruby has to take his place on the sled-pulling team. Can she be on her best behaviour, or will she wreak havoc?
Preparing for the day
And finally, a mention of Christmas Cooking and Craft for Kids, which is full of hands-on ways for kids to get into the Christmas spirit, making cute cakes, Christmas tree decorations, cookies and more. We think the Rudolf cupcakes could well become a part of our Christmas traditions.
What books do your family share during the Christmas season? Please tell us in comments, below. And if you like this story, please consider sharing it using the social buttons.
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