Great New Picture Books for the Holidays

Looking for something new to add to your holiday rotation? Here are five picture books about Christmas and Hanukkah (or both!) that we think you’ll really enjoy.

dinosaurs chanukahHow Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
The latest in the popular How Do Dinosaurs… series is as charming as its predecessors. Jane Yolen’s verse is pitch-perfect, Mark Teague’s lumbering characters are endearingly mischievous, and dino-crazed kids will love that, as always, each one is scientifically identified. Here, the theme is Chanukah, and the giant critters teach us the meaning of the holiday—after first demonstrating how not to be good. “Does he snatch away dreidels so no one else plays? Does he do this for each of the eight festive days?” Yolen asks. The hilarious deadpan tone, deriving from the fact that the parents of each dinosaur are a staid-looking, human couple who are totally unaware that they seem to be raising an extinct monster, will keep parents smiling, too. (ages 3-7)

deckthewallsDeck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Nick Ward
Deck the Halls was already one of the tap-tappingest carols. Now it just got funnier and more kid-friendly. In this clever parody (with spot-on rhyme and rhythm), we follow along, gasping in horrified delight, as a group of cousins reap mayhem throughout Christmas day. “Deck the walls with mashed potatoes! Fa la la la la, la la la la. Make a snowman with tomatoes! Fa la la la la, la la la la.” Appealing illustrations depict surprisingly tolerant relatives cleaning up after the little mischief-makers, and the book ends on a joyous note, as happy family young and old gather in the snow for a portrait. (ages 4-8)

daddy christmasDaddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
“I am a mix of two traditions. From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama,” begins this interfaith holiday book. In this little girl’s home, Daddy hangs candy canes on the menorah and Mama sprinkles gelt under the Christmas tree. Even the self-aware, hipster edge is handled with grace and humor, as Daddy listens to “mellow holiday jazz” on Christmas morning and Mama makes a point of tossing the wrapping paper into the recycling bin. The colorful mixed media illustrations depict a happy family who gets this whole multicultural thing just right. (ages 4-8)

christmaswombatChristmas Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
The adorably dim-witted, carrot-crazed wombat is back for another adventure, this time with a holiday backdrop. When the wombat finds a dish full of carrots (and then another, and then another), he can’t believe his good luck. Unfortunately, his glee turns to indignation when some pesky antlered animals keep munching them first. Children will be delighted to be in on the joke — that the carrots have actually been left out by children for Santa’s reindeer. Written in diary form (“Fought major battle with strange creatures. Won the battle.”) and illustrated with colorful paintings on a clean white background, this is a funny holiday read to share one-on-one. (ages 4-8)

little santaLittle Santa by Jon Agee
Finally, a Santa origin story! Popular author-illustrator Jon Agee explains how the man in red came to be. The tale starts on a quirky note, as we meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their seven children: Larry, Mary, Willy, Millie, Joey, Zoe, and Santa. All of them are sick and tired of living in the North Pole — except for Santa. When they decide to move to Florida, Santa asks, “Won’t you miss all the pine trees and the icicles and the miles and miles of snow?” No, Santa,” they reply. “We won’t.” When the family is delayed by a snowstorm, Santa shimmies up the chimney and sets off to find help. Because of the sly, wink-wink humor, this is a picture book even older kids will enjoy. (ages 4-9)

-Emma