Cuddle up in a cozy chair with the kids: These books spread holiday joy

Books might not be the first item on the your child’s wish list for the holidays. But they just might be a gift they turn to again and again, long after all those batteries need to be replaced or the toys no longer hold their luster. These books add joy to the holiday season and beyond.

“The Great Spruce”

By John Duvall, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Alec loves climbing the giant spruce outside his house, and he loves hearing his grandfather explain how, many years ago, he replanted the then-tiny tree from a shady part of the forest to a sunny spot near their house. When townspeople see how beautiful the tree is, they ask if they can chop it down and place it in the town square during Christmas. Alec finds a way to save the tree while still allowing it to be enjoyed by the community.

“A Hanukkah with Mazel”

By Joel Edward Stein, illustrated by Elisa Vavouri Misha

A talented yet poor painter, lives alone in an Eastern European village and has no one to spend Hanukkah with. One day he finds a hungry cat in his barn. Though he has very little to eat, he shares what he has with the cat, whom he names Mazel. The two happily celebrate Hanukkah, even though Misha has no candles for the menorah. A knock on the door the next day brings a friendly peddler with surprising news. The old-world charm of the drawings combines harmoniously with the holiday tale emphasizing the power of kindness and compassion.

“The Doll People’s Christmas”

By Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, illustrated by Brett Helquist

Two main characters set the stage: Annabelle Doll, who is part of a delicate Victorian doll set; and Tiffany Funcraft, part of a family of modern plastic dolls. The dolls belong to sisters Kate and Nora Palmer, and, when the girls aren’t around, the dolls come to life. When the dolls see that Kate accidentally breaks the angel that was supposed to top the tree, they’re devastated. But a surprise event and a little introspection ensures a happy holiday.

“Potatoes at Turtle Rock”

By Susan Schnur and Anna Schnur-Fishman; illustrated by Alexandra Steele-Morgan

Annie, her brother, Lincoln, and her parents prepare to celebrate Hanukkah as they usually do when it snows - with a trek through the forest. Annie has planned four stops; Old Log, Squeezy Cave, Billy Goat’s Bridge and Turtle Rock. Each one offers a chance to sing songs, say blessings and talk about the meaning of the holiday. At the last stop, Annie surprises her family with hot baked potatoes, butter, salt and maple syrup, along with spoons for scooping snow. “Yum!” says Lincoln. “Baked potatoes and snow cones.” It’s a fun twist on traditional stories about the holiday.

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