Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Books That Make Me Cry

The mark of a good Christmas book, for me, is that it makes me cry. We have a good number of children's books for Christmas, and I try to add a new book each year. We have some of the popular ones like The Polar Express and some silly but sentimental ones like Mercer Mayer's Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad, starring Little Critter. Some of the books we give the obligatory seasonal read and then put back on the rack.

But I have my favorites. These are the books that, without fail, make me cry at some point. My voice catches, a child's head pops up and looks at me and says, "Mama! Are you crying again?" I can't help it.

1. The Tale of the Three Trees (retold by Angela Elwell Hunt): This book ties it all together—Jesus' birth, life, and death—in a simple but eloquent story. I get choked up on almost every page.

2. The Story of Holly and Ivy (by Rumer Godden): This one takes us a couple of reading periods to get through, but it is so well worth it. This is the story of an orphan who wants a grandmother, a doll who wants a home, and a woman who wants a family. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

3. The House Without a Christmas Tree (by Gail Rock): I loved this TV special when I was a kid, but I'm not sure I'd ever read the book until a few years ago when I picked it up at a yard sale. Now my daughter and I read this story annually of a girl who begs her father for a Christmas tree, and I always cry at the end.

4. A Wish for Wings That Work (by Berkeley Breathed): Is it weird to get weepy over a book about a penguin named Opus? I can't help it; there's something about Santa saying, "Ho, ho, ho, go!" to a penguin whose wings don't work that brings tears every time. Also, this was one of the books we bought for our oldest for his first Christmas, so it's extra sentimental.

5. The First Night (by B.G. Hennessy): This short book starts off with one of my favorite Bible verses: "And the World became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) and proceeds to tell the birth of Christ in simple but poetic text. I especially love the rustic look of the paintings, done on butternut wood and shaped with a jigsaw. It's the simplicity of a birth—of a new life—that gets me every time.

And so those are my Top 5 favorite Christmas books. Do you have one that makes you cry? If so, leave a comment and I'll check it out! (And my apologies to those of you who also read SmallWorld Reads for this duplicate post!)


  1. A wish for wings that work....I haven't read that in years! I always loved it...

  2. The one that always makes me cry is The Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant. I don't know how many years we've been reading it, but I cry every time. The Christmas tree in our school room has a blue and silver theme. I found little silver packages tied with a silver bow. They hang quietly on our tree reminding me of my favorite Christmas book.

  3. isabel's shirt could vary what it says depending on her mood:). it ACTUALLY says my mom rocks! but, i like the other actually! maybe i should design one....

    i really like the three trees as well. mainly because a dear friend gave it to aidan when he was a baby. that friend has since passed every time i pull that book out i cry!

  4. can i use the word actually anymore times???

  5. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado! It gives me goosebumps everytime I tell someone about it. And it made me cry.

    I agree, those are definitely signs of a great book!

  6. I also love The Tale of the Three Trees.
    One I can never get through without crying is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.
    Alas, I lost our Christmas book collection when we moved last summer and haven't been able to find them! :( So, I am slowly building it back up.

  7. I love this post. I've jotted down the names of your favorites that are not in our home. I'm going to be sure to read them. I love a good Christmas story. I'm glad to have a little one in our house again so we can re-read all the old favorites once more.

    Velveteen Rabbit isn't just for Christmas, but we have a version that always sat in the Christmas book basket on the hearth and it really tugs my heartstrings.

    Right now I'm reading Jotham's Journey with my boys for advent and we are really enjoying it.

    Oh how I do love a good holiday story! Great idea for a post!

  8. Thanks for that list...going to check those out!

  9. I do not cry at movies and commercials or much of anything... BUT "The Velveteen Rabbit" makes me alll choked up and teary every time.....

  10. I cry at Three Trees too. Not a Christmas book, but one that gets me is Bagels for Benny. Oh glory. Do find it if you don't know it. My kids too look up at me and say "really? Again?" Cannot get through it. Read it and then tell me if you managed to not cry. Impossible.


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