Dreidels, Elves, and the Baby Jesus, Part 2: What's New in Holiday Books for Kids

More Christmas kids' picture books coming your way for your holiday enjoyment! These are all brand new Christmas titles that focus on the religious meaning of the holiday, and most often, the birth of Christ. If you want this aspect of Christmas to be a part of a child's experience, picture books are one of the best ways to teach and remind kids about the nativity story.

If you're looking for picture books about non-religious aspects of Christmas, see my previous post here. And, later this week ... Hanukkah!

Christmas Picture Books (Religious)

Star Bright: A Christmas Story by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds

ages 3-8

I've been a fan of Alison McGhee's picture books for some time, so it's exciting to see her release a Christmas title. This one is told by a small angel who is a bit overwhelmed and intimidated about all the beautiful and impressive gifts the other angels have to offer the Christ child. You'll love the littlest angel's ultimate idea ... a star to guide some lost guys on camels to the baby Jesus.

Manger by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Helen Cann

ages 4-9

Lee Bennett Hopkins is perhaps the most prolific American children's poet, and he's one you don't want your children to miss. In this collection, he presents his own poetry, as well as that of twelve other writers. This is an original look at the Christmas story; various animals near the manger offer short poems that share their experience of the birth of Jesus. Cann's watercolor, collage, and mixed media illustrations make this a book to savor. Kirkus gave Manger a starred review.

What the Shepherd Saw by Selma Lagerloeff and Maja Dusikova 

ages 4-8

I mentioned in my last post about secular Christmas books how much I like NorthSouth Books, which publishes international children's picture books. What the Shepherd Saw is a picture book retelling of the famous story written by Selma Lagerloeff, a Swedish author active at the turn of the 20th century. Here the tale of a doubting shepherd who comes to learn about the true spirit of the nativity is retold for younger children. Dusikova is a Czech artist who has illustrated many other picture books for North South.

The First Christmas by Jan Pienkowski*

ages 4 and up

This is a re-release by Knopf of a wholly original illustrated version of the nativity story. If you're not familiar with Pienkowski, he is a Polish illustrator who has won the UK's Kate Greenaway Medal twice. His work using silhouettes was considered groundbreaking when he first came on the picture book scene in the 1970s. If you're looking for an engaging, unique picture book set to the King James Version of Matthew's nativity story.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Anselm Grun and Giuliano Ferri 

ages 7-12

Another international title, authored by a German Benedictine monk and illustrated by an Italian artist. The Legend of Saint Nicholas offers a historical look at the real-life saint who was known for his incredible generosity. This book is a perfect way to round out the Christmas story for kids who want to know more.

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