Some of our most cherished holiday memories are attached to classic holiday stories: we remember being read Dr. Seuss’s Grinch Who Stole Christmas at bedtime, seeing the Charlie Brown Christmas special on TV, or attending a performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As each generation comes to love these classics, these books and stories are passed down as cherished keepsakes. It’s with this spirit we’ve chose three new books that would look great gift-wrapped under the tree, and hopefully stand the test of time in your own family.
by T.E. McMorrow, illustrated by James Ransome (HarperCollins $17.99) Age 3-8
This Christmas classic is contemporarily re-imaged after 200 years, and finds new life amid New York’s Harlem Renaissance. Journalist and playwright T.E. McMorrow began dreaming of a jazz “Nutcracker” years ago while working with the Dance Theater of Harlem—his passionate familiarity radiates from these pages. Little Marie loves the sound of Christmas, surrounded by the warm camaraderie and lively jazz melodies created by her extended family and their musician friends. She’s too self-conscious to join in, until the hand-carved gift from her uncle—introduced as a “toy soldier,” (modern twist on the “nutcracker”)—comes magically to life and leads her to find her artistic voice.
Illustrator Ransome, winner of multiple Coretta Scott King book awards, brings the action to glorious life with vivid, full-page depictions of holiday cheer, family love, and the exuberance of jazz.
by Bobby & June George, art by Boyoun Kim (Phaidon $16.95) Age 3-6
This board book seems simplistic at first glance, but the Georges—Montessori educators and children’s book authors—have tapped an ingenious way to engage the artistic, mathematical, and linguistic parts of young minds.
In a series of candy-colored illustrations, shapes get names, become patterns, and begin to appear everywhere a child’s gaze lands. A lot of lines become stripes, a lot of squares make plaid, and young minds are primed for math and geometry without even realizing it!
We love books that simultaneously entertain and educate, and this volume’s back-to-basics approach and sturdy construction will inspire sharing with generations to come.
by Kelsey Oseid (Ten Speed $16.99) All ages
Do you ever gaze at the night sky to try and make-out constellations? Containing infinite mysteries and conjuring a world beyond ourselves, the cosmos hold fascination for budding astronomers from three to 93.
Equal parts science, mythology, history, and art, this comprehensive volume explores everything from our solar system and zodiac, to less familiar celestial phenomena like comets, nebulae, and deep space. Oseid has a gift for explaining complex astronomy in a simple and engaging way that’s perfect for kids, while demystifying science for right-brained readers. The accompanying illustrations are inky and illuminating, helping bring distant galaxies and ancient history vividly to life.
Consider this the perfect gift for any family, even reaching our curious stargazers who aren’t quite at reading-age.