Holiday books are a delight to share with kids who thrive on the joys of the season. Here are five spectacular ones with glorious illustrations.

Mary Engelbreit's Nutcracker1. For those who already love the Nutcracker story, be prepared to love it even more when you experience Mary Engelbreit’s Nutcracker (HarperCollins, 2011). The re-imagining of this favorite tale allows simple prose and the rich 
details of the illustrations to be the real storytellers. From darling Maria to the fierce Mouse King to the truly lovely Sugar Plum Fairy, this book 
delights and enchants with every page. All 
ages; $17.99. 


The Scrawny Little Tree: A Christmas Story2. Originally published in 1970, The 
Scrawny Little Tree: A Christmas Story (Price Stern Sloan, 1970/2011) is a lovely fable about how a small, frail tree becomes the perfect solution for a poor young boy who has always dreamed of having a Christmas tree of his own. Ed Mehler’s rhyming text and Susie Pollard’s retro drawings will make you yearn for simpler times, when wonder and the magic of Christmas were all that were needed to make the world right. Ages 3-5; $6.99.


Jan Brett's Home for Christmas3. Fans of Jan Brett will be delighted with her latest story, Home for Christmas (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011), which has the fantastically detailed illustrations and intricate page borders for which she is so well known. This story is about Rollo, a wild troll, who tires of family chores and decides to set off alone for adventures on the mountain. He comes upon many animals—some friendlier than others—but eventually he returns home to a joyous reunion. Ages 3-5; $17.99.


The Twelve Days of Christmas4. As a wonderful update to the beloved holiday carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas (Accord Publishing, 2011) features Jade Fang’s whimsical illustrations and 10 AniMotion panels that bring to life swimming swans, swinging rings, and dancing maids. Children will be fascinated by the animated motion, as well as by the final page, which brings together all 12 days in a festive Christmas celebration in the village square. Ages 4-8; $17.99.


Chanukah Lights5. The story of Chanukah is retold in eight pop-up scenes that reach around the globe and throughout the ages in Chanukah Lights (Candlewick Press, 2011) by illustrator/pop-up master Robert Sabuda and 
author Michael J. Rosen. There’s a pop-up paper sculpture for each of the eight nights of the holiday; all include a 
menorah glowing in places as varied as a ship at sea and an Israeli kibbutz. Ages 5 
and up; $34.99.

Anna Sandler is the mom of three children, ages 2, 5, and 7, and a freelance writer from New Jersey. She is a frequent contributor to

What are your family's favorite Christmas books, Chanukah books, or Kwanzaa books? Please share your favorites with our readers!