Finding the right book for your kid can be a challenge. But if you guess right and keep new ones coming, you may be on your way to raising a lifelong reader.
Check out our Essential Books for Kids and Teens guide to find more than 150 of our perennial favorites. Plus, every month we highlight a few books for different ages, including some exceptional titles that could be the perfect thing to pique kids' interest, get them hooked on a new author, or help them rediscover an old favorite.
Here are our picks for December:
- For kids age 3 to 7, there's Little Santa by Jon Agee, which offers a charming origin story of Santa Claus that bears no relation to the one about St. Nicholas. Who knew that Santa grew up at the North Pole with a snow-hating family desperate to move to Florida and that even as a tyke in a red onesie he had a taste for sliding down chimneys and riding flying reindeer? With deadpan humor and appealing art in a wintry pastel palette, this gentle, original story will appeal to kids and grown-ups alike. Perfect for read-aloud.
- For readers age 9 to 12, check out Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford about a troubled and troublemaking tween boy who gets involved with a secret philanthropist and helps salvage Christmas for his economically depressed small town of Nickel Bay. As much a coming-of-age novel as a holiday tale, it shows a hard-luck kid transformed by doing good for others. With grit, humor, and heart, it avoids corny cliches -- quite a feat for a Christmas story!
- For teens age 13 to 17, we have a special recommendation for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fans: J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas. Each year, from 1920 to 1943, Tolkien would write and colorfully illustrate a letter from Father Christmas for his four children. This collection of the letters makes a great holiday read-aloud for kids age 5 to 10, but teens reading on their own will find it surprisingly funny and a little weird -- in a good way. And, hey -- it has elves and goblins! (It also includes a goblin alphabet and a bit of elvish writing.) A fine choice in a month when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug comes out in theaters.
What are some of your family's favorite holiday books?
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