As librarians at the Portneuf Library, we love the holidays (just check out our awesome holiday events and decorations if you don’t believe us!) but we know it can begin to feel like you’re reading the same Christmas book over and over every year. That’s why this year Crystal and I have teamed up to give you our picks for books that have a fresh take on holiday themes and that just might leave you feeling a little jollier.
Children and Teen Picks:
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
This warm holiday read is Tomie dePaola’s retelling of the classic Mexican folktale; the flower of the Holy Night. dePaola’s familiar style illuminates this beautiful holiday story which makes for a great opportunity to learn together as a family about how another culture celebrates Christmas.
Merry Un-Christmas by Mike Reiss with illustrations by David Catrow
Basically every kid has wished that every day could be Christmas, presents, candy, and time off from school included. But through the alternate universe of Merry Un-Christmas where only one day a year isn’t Christmas, kids and adults alike can be reminded about just what makes that day so special and why we might even be a little grateful that it’s only a once a year occurrence.
The Christmas Genie by Dan Gutman with illustrations by Dan Santat
In this book, the author of the My Weird School series asks the question “What would you do if you could guarantee that you’d get your Christmas wish?” and of course holiday hoopla ensues as one elementary school class struggles to find the answer. Besides being hilarious, this book is also a good discussion starter for families to share what their wishes would be and what would happen if they suddenly came true.
Shall I Knit You a Hat?: A Christmas Yarn by Kate Klise with illustrations by M. Sarah Klise
This adorable and wintery read is a much needed reminder that while some gifts might not be as wish list worthy as others, it is truly the thought behind each present and the loved ones who give them to us who matter the most.
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This adorable book is a cute candy cane style twist on a cliché Christmas courtship that’s like You’ve Got Mail with more sass. The back and forth scavenger hunt style of the book leads the characters (and the reader) all around New York City during the happiest and busiest time of the year. This book is a great read whether you’re not as into to Christmas like Dash (guilty as charged!) or are like Lily who is festive enough for the rest of us combined. The holiday hijinks also continue in the sequel, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, which takes place on Christmas the following year.
Other festively fun titles:
-The Worst Person’s Christmas by James Stevenson
-Who is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? by Martha Freeman
-The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements.
-Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner
-Matchless by Gregory Maguire
-Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos
-Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges by Jen Mann
And for a dose of Christmas nostalgia we have a list of quick reads. Most of the books are 200 pages or less, making them perfect for the busy holiday seasons.
First off we have Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.
Luther and Nora Krank are facing their first Christmas in twenty years without their daughter. She is out of the country and Nora and Luther know Christmas just won’t be the same, so they decide to skip it. They are skipping the crowds, the corny office parties, the fruitcakes, and the presents. They have decided to go on a cruise instead. This decision soon proves to be more difficult than it sounds. The story of the Kranks is a funny and entertaining read that is quick and fun.
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
A Dog Named Christmas is a feel good story about a boy named Todd McCray and a special dog changing a family and a town. It all starts when Todd hears about the Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program. He convinces his parents to let him participate and after that he convinces the town to join in. The book is only 149 pages but it’s full of funny, sweet and happy feelings. It’s a great book for getting into a Christmas mood.
The Gift by Nora Roberts
The Gift is actually a set of two Christmas romances, starting with Home for Christmas. Jason is a traveling reporter heading back home after ten years, determined to win back his old flame Faith. The Second Story is All I Want for Christmas where twins Zack and Zeke have one wish for Christmas. They want a mom, and when they meet their new music teacher Miss. Davis They are convinced she is sent for them. Now they just have to convince her and their dad. Both stories are cute reads with fun holiday themes and show it’s never too late for second chances.
Christmas Out West is a collection of western Christmas stories
Christmas out West is a great collection of western Christmas stories, with both classic and contemporary. There are 16 short stories to choose from, making it great for a quick short story here and there, or an afternoon or two of reading them all.
Secret Santa by Robert Miller
It’s Christmas and Rebecca Chandler is in no mood. She has been dumped by her boyfriend and her work as a reporter has her covering seasonal fluff she has no interest in. When she is sent to the small town of Hamden to cover a story on a mysterious secret santa who shows up every Christmas Eve to give a generous gift to someone less fortunate, Rebecca decides not to write a fluffy, holiday piece, she is going to do an investigative piece on the identity on the secret santa. The story is a quick easy read that has the feel of a Hallmark movie. It’s great for mixing a little Christmas spirit into the pressure of the holiday.
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!