Reading Christmas books is one of my very favourite ways to herald the festive season.
I keep our small collection of Christmas stories with the fairy lights and decorations. For most of the year they're tucked away in a box in the garage but this past weekend we fossicked around and brought them inside. We'll count down the weeks till Christmas with these beloved books; tales of magic and wonder and good deeds.
We may not have reading sessions huddled around the fire with hot chocolate in hand but we can still celebrate the season through stories (with the upmost summery cheer).
1. The Christmas Magicby Lauren Thompson and Jon J Muth. This is the first Christmas book we reach for each year and it tells a poetic and enchanting story of Santa as he prepares for his big journey. Exquisite watercolours by Muth (best known for Zen Shorts, Zen Ties and Hi Koo!) present a very traditional Santa; he feels a tingling in his whiskers, he feeds his reindeer parsnips and berries and he knows, in his heart, what each child at heart wants most. This story is heartwarming and the magic is palpable.
2. Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King. Set in a landscape of iconic Australian drought and fire, a little pig named Applesauce learns the true meaning of Christmas. In the middle of burnt bushland Joe and Marigold's house remains and a bright star shines down from overhead. A local family, The Shepherds, come to visit, as do the three aunties bearing gifts. King's illustrations are the perfect balance of simple and quirky and they lend a lighthearted touch to a story that could be a little sad for young readers. If you're looking for a book with a beautiful message, look no further. As the owl called out to Applesauce: "Christmas comes from the heart, Pig, from the heart."
3. Lucy and Tom's Christmas by Shirley Hughes. One of my all-time favourite author/illustrators, Shirley Hughes conveys very ordinary, every day life in her stories ( I particularly like the messy family homes featured) and because of that, they are relatable and unforgettable. This is a simple story about preparing for Christmas and celebrating with family - perfect in every way.
4. What Do You Wish For?by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker. If I were to nominate an Australian version of Shirley Hughes' classics, I wouldn't hesitate in mentioning all of Godwin + Walker's titles. Thank goodness they released a Christmas story! I think what I love most about this book is the multiple perspectives - Tom, Maisie, Clair, Jack, Ruby and Tom get to tell us what they've wished for which ultimately prompts many discussions about what we're all dreaming about this Christmas. Cute and joyful and wonderfully Australian.
5. The ABC Book of Christmas by Mark Macleod. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the story of the first Christmas is a beautiful one and this book is a must-have for your home library. Each scene is illustrated by a different Australian artist (there's a lullaby and nursery rhyme version, too) which keeps little ones interested and inspired.