8 Great Holiday Stories for the Family

A few great stories -- think Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol or Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas -- transformed the way we celebrate the season. And a great book is still the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Read on for our picks for the best holiday books to read together, and try some of our activities to boost seasonal reading fun.

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Christmas in the Manger, by Nola Buck

HarperCollins

Christmas in the Manger, by Nola Buck

Make this simple board book, with illustrations by Felicia Bond of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fame, the first selection in an advent calendar of holiday-themed books. Individually wrap your collection of Christmas stories, number them from 1 to 24, and place them under the tree. For each night leading up to Christmas, open one and read it together.

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The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jan Brett

The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jan Brett

Sing this lushly illustrated book, based on the classic song, instead of reading it. Then play a "Twelve Days of Christmas" game, perfect for parties. Download and print clip-art pictures that represent each verse of the song (a cow for "maids milking," a dancer for "lords a-leaping"), and distribute them your friends and family. When the right verse hits, jump up and hold your picture aloft. As the song gets longer, the game gets funnier.

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Hanukkah Haiku, by Harriet Zeifert

Blue Apple

Hanukkah Haiku, by Harriet Zeifert

After reading the simple text and vibrant illustrations, write your own haiku inspired by your favorite holiday moment. Or craft a kid-friendly menorah out of wooden spools and pencils using our easy instructions.

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Night Tree, by Eve Bunting

Night Tree, by Eve Bunting

The family in the story treks to the woods to decorate a pine tree with popcorn and seeds, perfect for birds and deer to munch on. Do the same in your own backyard with an eco-friendly Christmas craft: Slather pine cones with peanut butter, roll them in birdseed, and use yarn to tie them to an outdoor evergreen tree.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

Random House

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

Bring the holiday classic to life by assembling your own Anti-Grinch Kit. Place small treats and pretty wrapped gifts, like ornaments, books, or gift certificates, in a basket near the front door to share with drop-in guests over the holidays.

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My First Kwanzaa, by Karen Katz

Henry Holt/MacMillan

My First Kwanzaa, by Karen Katz

With simple text and bright illustrations, Katz creates a great introduction to the seven days of Kwanzaa. Read it as part of your own family's Kwanzaa celebration, or use it to teach your kids about holidays in other cultures.

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Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo

Candlewick

Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo

In this Christmas tearjerker by the author of Because of Winn Dixie, Frances can't stop thinking about the lonely organ-grinder she sees across the street, so she invites him to be a part of her celebration. Start a new tradition of giving a meaningful book to each of your children during the holidays. Include an inscription to explain why you chose it, such as "Frances in this book reminded me of you."

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Christmas in the Country, by Cynthia Rylant

Scholastic Inc.

Christmas in the Country, by Cynthia Rylant

A young girl delights in the simple joys of the season--hanging evergreen garlands, singing in the church choir, welcoming family and friends on Christmas day. As you read it, you can enjoy another perfect holiday pleasure: snuggling on the couch and sharing a good book.

Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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