How to Select and Use Holiday-Themed Books

During the holiday season, we enjoy reading holiday-themed books, whether it is for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year. We set aside our regular History, Language Arts, and Science curriculum to enjoy a break with purely recreational reading, centered on the season.

Typically, we pick up our holiday-themed books from the library, because we like to read different books each year. But there are hundreds of holiday-themed books out there, so how do you know which are worth reading? This is how we determine if a holiday book will come home with us.

Look at the Illustrations

For us, the images are important for a holiday-themed book whether fiction or nonfiction. If the pictures are ugly, we don’t pick up the book. Your definition of a good picture may not be the same as ours, but if you don’t have an urge to savor the illustrations in a book, I advise leaving it on the shelf. It makes for a pleasant evening of family read aloud time when you can pore over intricate or unique illustrations that complement a holiday narrative.

Examine Content

A brief flip through a book will reveal its content to a discerning eye. I know there are a few obnoxious characters that I always avoid, and I will never pick up a holiday book featuring one of thm.

Aside from that, I also do not want to read any holiday book that is at odds with our family values. Books where children whine and beg a lot, are disrespectful, or that promote traditions that are not in alignment with our family values get left on the shelf. This is easier to do with picture books, but in nonfiction books or books for older kids it is fairly easy to get an idea of what a book is about by a scan through the chapter list or table of contents.

Look at Writing Style

What you like in a book will be different from what we like, but don’t pick up anything you don’t want to read aloud. Personally, I don’t like rhyming picture books, so I always avoid those, but if you love rhyming stories, by all means select them!

I like to choose books that are written beautifully and challenge my children’s vocabulary level. Good writers and speakers are grown from good readers, so it is important to consider even with holiday books.

Let Your Children Choose

I typically screen books and let my children choose between 3-5 books every time we visit the library. This helps keep our return pile smaller and allows several readings of each book before we return for more. Letting children make book selections makes them more eager for family reading time when their choice is featured.

How to Select and Use Holiday-Themed Books Our Favorite Fall and Thanksgiving Books

  • I Am a Bunny by Richard Scarry
  • Thanksgiving at Our House by Wendy Watson
  • Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland
  • Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights by Laura Purdie Salas
  • How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro

Our Favorite Christmas and Winter Books

  • Biscuit's Christmas Eve by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston
  • A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer

How to Use Holiday Books in Your Homeschool

I like to use holiday books as a springboard for further learning. If a book mentions Christmas cookies, for example, we might recreate the recipes. If a book mentions a specific place or activity, we might try that same activity in our local area.

I like using holiday-themed books to teach my kids about how holidays are celebrated elsewhere in the world. We then take that book’s information and study it further, such as by creating a unit study based around the holiday or country, incorporating some of the traditions into our holiday, or even studying the specific traditions of a particular point in history. One year, we had an English Christmas, where our holiday celebration centered around English Christmas traditions. 

About the Author

Brenda Priddy

Brenda is a professional writer and homeschooling mother to two girls in Dallas, TX, with a passion for books, DIY, and creative education. Her blog, Schooling a Monkey, is all about homeschooling, crafts, green living, and fun. Keep up with the fun here!

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