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Beloved ­Christmas Books

Give a book; make a tradition

      Books warm and nourish the soul, teaching us things and bringing us closer together. What better time than Christmas to give the gift of reading — and understanding?
     Who knows a good book better than a librarian? Nobody, we thought, until the Bay Weekly office sisterhood chimed in with what about us? So along with Anne Arundel and Calvert County librarians, we’ve included our favorites. Is yours on our list? 
–Audrey Broomfield
Not Just For Kids
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
by Barbara Robinson
       This children’s book is one of those ROTFL (Roll on the floor laughing) books while also incorporating a more solemn meaning about inclusion and kindness. 
–Arleen Talley, Anne Arundel County ­
Public Library Headquarters
Christmas Carol Murder 
by Leslie Meier 
       Craving nostalgia this season? Look no further than Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone Mysteries. Wholesome values abound in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, where no one locks their front door, and readers feel like they are coming home each time they pick up a book. For adults.
–Lynn Harlan, Calvert Library Twin Beaches 
Not Just For Kids 
Christmas in the Big Woods 
by Laura Engalls Wilder
       I read it to my girls and they loved the simplicity of gifts the children received. Ages four and up.
–Lori Hicks, Anne Arundel County 
Public Library Headquarters 
Christmas Jars 
by Jason F. Wright 
      A short read that might start a family holiday tradition of impactful giving. It did for mine. A great family read.
–Carolyn Lenz, 
Circulation Supervisor, Calvert Library
Not Just For Kids  
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
by Susan Wojciechowski
      A heartwarming and moving story about love and healing. The illustrations are beautiful. Age range: 5-10 years old.
–Amy Yonts, Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library
The Christmas Star: A Novel  
by Donna VanLiere
      A heartwarming read with holiday themes of community, redemption, love, second chances, honor, forgiveness and more. A great reminder to care about others. For adults.
–Kate Troutman, Literary Matchmaker at Calvert Library Prince Frederick
Not Just For Kids
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
by David Levithan
      A whirlwind romance around a fun literary scavenger hunt that takes place during the Christmas season in New York. Bonus points for taking place at the Strand bookstore! For young adults/teens.
–Katelyn Tjarks, Severn Library
The Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry
       This short story has also been adapted into picture book versions. My father read this holiday story to us as children because he loved how it demonstrates that material gifts can be true expressions of love and sacrifice.
–Catherine Hollerbach, Anne Arundel County Public Library Headquarters 
Not Just For Kids
Olive the Other Reindeer 
by Vivian Walsh, illustrated by J. Otto Seibold
      A new twist on an old classic. It’s just cute, silly and the illustrations are fun. For children and children at heart.
–Maureen Dominiski, Deale Library
Not Just For Kids
The Polar Express 
by Chris Van Allsburg  
      A simple story but wonderfully illustrated. The 30th Anniversary Big Book version is stunning. For all ages.
–Jeb Hall, Annapolis Library
Not Just For Kids 
The Reindeer Wish 
by Lori Evert
      This holiday story is not only strikingly beautiful through each photograph but also a tale of true kindness and empathy for others and ends by filling your heart full of magic. For ages 3-7.
–Sarah Kachevas, Anne Arundel County Public Library Headquarters
Santaland Diaries 
by David Sedaris 
      Read out loud, but maybe after kids have gone to bed. It’s a hilarious way to embrace humanity and keep perspective each holiday season.
–Rebecca Hass, Anne Arundel County Public Library Headquarters 
The Shepherd, The Angel
and Walter the Miracle Christmas Dog 
by Dave Barry
      A very quick read that is a heartwarming and fun story about family and the holidays. For adults.
–Steve Mangum, Broadneck Library
Shepherds Abiding 
by Jan Karon
      An uplifting and relatable Christmas story in the Mitford series. Father Tim decides to restore a damaged antique nativity scene as a Christmas gift for his wife and quickly realizes he is in over his head. For any adult who longs to make Christmas perfect.
–Robbie McGaughran, Anne Arundel County Public Library Headquarters 
Not Just For Kids
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice 
by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Jesse Reisch
       This children’s book focuses on the history of the Winter Solstice and its significance to various cultures around the world. It introduces a number of holiday celebrations while explaining earth science concepts and honors the similarities and differences between people around the world. Ages 5-8.
–Anneliese Trainer, Public Services ­Librarian at Calvert Library Prince Frederick
Silent Night: Story of the World War I Christmas Truce 
by Stanley Weintraub 
      Inspiring nonfiction for the 100th anniversary of WWI. A real model of how we can put aside our differences no matter how extreme and be together.
–Pat Little, volunteer and book club member at Calvert Library Prince Frederick
Not Just For Kids
A Visit from St. Nicholas 
by Clement Clarke Moore
      Absolutely THE classic Christmas story. The only thing it lacks is the animals talking at midnight. For all ages.
–Brian Oberle, Glen Burnie Library
Winter Solstice 
by Rosamunde Pilcher
      I loved the emotionally touching story and characters. I read it every winter. For adults.
–Amy Yonts, Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library
Winter Street  
by Elin Hilderbrand
      A story with relatable, imperfect characters. If you are avoiding sappy reads but still want a holiday story, this will fit the bill. Check out the whole four-book series. For adults.
–Meg Faller, Public Services Librarian at Calvert Library Prince Frederick
Bay Weekly ­Recommends …
I Couldn’t Pick Just One
      I have many fond moments of being read to as a child, then growing up a little and sitting next to a warm wood stove on a cold day and reading to myself for hours. As an adult, I’m still always saying just one more chapter … (I just finished two.)
     I offer my top recommendations for books that helped shape my view of the holidays.
The Mitten 
by Jan Brett
      Children will love this classic Ukrainian folk tale of Nicki and his lost mitten. I loved staring at the intricate illustrations that filled its pages; there are always hidden details in the added panels.
Babar and Father Christmas 
by Jean de Brunhoff
      This seasonally themed read takes an interesting and cute take on the tale of Old Saint Nick. My favorite part is an image of Saint Nick relaxed in a hammock surrounded by Babar’s children. I received this book in French from my grandmother’s friend in Paris.
The Snowy Day 
by Jack Keats
      Keats shows a first day’s snow through the eyes of a child. This book’s bright colors and simplistic design will delight. 
The Little House Collection 
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
       This series was a favorite of my childhood. From dreaming of making snow treats with fresh maple syrup to images of Paw fresh out of the snow with a sack of gifts, this book takes a young mind back to a holiday time when life was wilder.
The Legend of the Poinsettia 
by Tomie dePaolo
      From this book, I got a glimpse at how the holidays are celebrated in Latin culture and introduces Spanish words. With my Puerto Rican grandmother, my mother encouraged books that spoke of our Latin heritage.
Las Navidades
by Lulu Delacre 
      Alas, my first pick is no longer in print, but maybe your library will still have a copy. It is a compilation of popular Hispanic songs I remember chanting along with my grandmother as a small child.
–Audrey Broomfield
Cajun Night Before Christmas 
by Trosclair 
     It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without a reading of the long-standing tradition that harkens back to my childhood in Louisiana. The 1973 bayou parody takes the classic Clement Moore tale of A Visit From St. Nicholas, dresses up Santa in furs and puts him at the reins of a pirogue pulled by a team of alligators with names like Suzette, Gaston and Tiboy. 
      Each line of the rhyme is spelled out phonetically for those non-Cajun patois speakers. De chirren been nezzle means the children are nestled. Each page is fantastically illustrated by James Rice to give readers a great sense of life in the swamp of the Deep South. For most kids in Louisiana, reindeer, sleighs and even snow are foreign. Swap all that for something more familiar, and a classic is born.
–Kathy Knotts
A Child’s Christmas in Wales 
by Dylan Thomas 
      Reflecting in poetic prose on the holidays of this childhood, the Welsh poet showed me how the storyteller amplifies life in its retelling:
      Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver, he wrote, setting the course for my life. 
      Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs where the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn’t the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets …
       Read it to be hypnotized and remember anew.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin