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A GOOD READ: Share seasonal picture books with children

Christmas is coming and kids of all ages are getting excited about the decorations, the carols, the guy in the red suit… oh yeah, and the presents.

Help your kids get in the mood for Christmas with a variety of holiday tales; excellent stories about the season abound and your library has the perfect book for any age and taste.

The youngest babies and toddlers may not be quite sure what all the seasonal fuss is about. New decorations and routines are fun but these littlest ones may not get the point of it all. Help them figure it out with simple tales like Karen Katz’s Where is Baby’s Christmas Present?, with lots of flaps to uncover; or sing along with Sandra Boynton’s new Christmas Parade. Lucy Cousins’ beloved Maisy makes a holiday appearance in Maisy’s Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas, Maisy; these brightly illustrated board books provide plenty of opportunities for parents to point out seasonal activities and objects, and explain what they mean for your family.

Pre-schoolers will have a clearer understanding of holiday traditions and may be ready for more complex themes involving the spirit of the season. Runaway favourite Pete the Cat is back for some holiday fun in Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. As with others in this series, the title features a catchy audio refrain available for free download online.

If your kids are dreaming of a white Christmas, pick up a copy of Snowmen at Christmas by Mark Buehner and find out what those sneaky snowmen get up to when Santa comes.

Those who prefer a prehistoric take will beg for more readings of How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen. Children will love tsk-tsking at the naughty behaviour of the disobedient dinosaurs, and will nod in approval when they mend their ways just in time for Christmas Eve. (There’s also How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?.)

When you’re ready for a rest, snuggle up with The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood. This gentle tale shows quiet scenes that invite peaceful study and contemplation.

Lauren Thompson has written another hushed tale in The Christmas Magic, in which gorgeously atmospheric watercolour illustrations tell a tale of a quiet and gentle Santa Claus who waits all year in his snowy northern home for the special time when the magic comes.

Elementary school-aged kids are ready for some of the very best holiday books.

Melanie Watt’s hilarious Scaredy Squirrel has a plan for surviving the Christmas season and kids in kindergarten through grade 3 will love to watch how his neurotic plan works out. Pick up Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas: A Safety Guide for Scaredies, and pair it with the equally funny A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel.

For a particularly jolly holiday, join tiny decorating diva Fancy Nancy in Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas. Nancy finds out that even when things don’t go her way, the season is still full of magic.

And of course, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg will keep older kids spellbound with its photorealistic illustrations and compelling tale of belief.

Great holiday books don’t even have to mention Christmas to be a good choice.

Rabbit’s Gift is a gentle Chinese fable, retold by author George Shannon, about a generous hare who anonymously gives away his surplus food to a friend in need. The good deed comes full circle and the friends enjoy a snowy holiday meal together.

Ezra Jack Keats’ beautiful 1962 classic The Snowy Day shows the joy of a little city boy as he explores the first snowfall of the season.

For those looking for a religious perspective on the Christmas season, try the charming Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson for the younger set, or the classic King James text and iconic silhouettes of Jan Pienkowski’s The First Christmas for the older ones.

And of course, no holiday would be complete without a family reading of The Night Before Christmas. For a new spin on this classic poem, try Rachel Isadora’s colourful and unique version. Set in Africa, this traditional tale features the bright colours and cheerful African style that characterizes the rest of the author’s popular titles.

All these holiday books and more are waiting for you at your local public library. We wish you and your family all the best of the season.

A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Maryn Ashdown is head youth services librarian at Port Moody Public Library.

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