Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Books That Make Me Cry

With today being the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year and the time when putting up decorations becomes acceptable in my humble opinion, I thought I'd set you all thinking about good Christmas reading with this repost from last year. Now is the perfect time to add a few books to your Christmas collection and start reading a few every evening!

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 essential ones like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 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. I have to add another one that takes awhile to read but is so well worth it: The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff. This one isn't for the youngest readers, but 9 and up will love it.

Do you have one that makes you cry? If so, leave a comment and I'll check it out! Here are a few collected from last year's comments:

The Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston (I can't wait to check this one out!!)
Jotham's Journey (This one's been on my to-read list for years!)
Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis


  1. easy ... Annika's Secret Wish, by Beverly Lewis.

    makes others in this home cry, too.

  2. I'll have to look for some of these. I really like Petunia's Christmas by Roger Duvoisin.

  3. It has to be the Gift of the Child Christ by George MacDonald for me.

  4. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is one of my favorites! I also like The Gift of the Magi.

  5. I love your book selections! I think they will be great additions to our Christmas Book tradition as my son gets a little older.

  6. I love your list, and your comments. I wrote THE FIRST NIGHT when my children were very little. They believed that because of the flying angels and the gold and the kings that the nativity story was a fairy tale. In this retelling I kept it simple and focused on the baby.

    I also am a huge Barbara Cooney fan. HOLLY AND IVY was one of my favorite stories as a child. When I lived in New York I was the art director at Viking I had the opportunity to redesign that book- so I feel that I made your top 5 list twice! ( Well, sort of, the design is pretty small compared with Godden and Cooney, but a small piece at least!) You've made my Christmas a little merrier already, Best, B. G. Hennessy


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