Every year after Christmastide we put our Christmas themed books away so that when Advent begins it is the first time my children have seen them all year. I check out the ones we don’t own from the library and we place them in a basket with a festive bow. I love how these stories work their magic all Advent long as we prepare our hearts for Christmas morning. Here are our favorites.
Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Christmas Carols by Marjorie Wyckoff, illustrated by Corinne Malvern
The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot, found in James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
Christmas for 10 by Cathryn Falwell*
Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck
Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren*
A Christmas Like Helen’s by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock*
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
The Christmas Story by Gennady Spirin*
The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson
The Christmas Story by Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Dolls’ Christmas by Tasha Tudor*
The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger*
Good King Wenceslasby John Mason Neale, illustrated by Christopher Manson*
The Legend of the Poinsettiaby Tomie dePaola
The Little Drummer Boyby Ezra Jack Keats
The Nativity by Ruth Sanderson*
The Nativity: Six Glorious Pop-Up Scenes by Francesca Crespi*
Room for a Little Oneby Martin Waddell
Stephen’s Feastby Jean Richardson*
The Story of Holly & Ivyby Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Gennady Spirin
A Wreath of Christmas Legendsby Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard (Christmas poetry)*
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Treeby Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Today, 400 years ago, the Mayflower set sail for our eastern shores! The Separatists and other passengers numbered 102. They crammed below deck in tight quarters, due to the early failure of a second ship that meant to sail alongside the Mayflower, the Speedwell. Heavy storms, seasickness, poor nutrition, and many other hardships plagued their sixty-six day journey. One mother gave birth to a child mid-journey, appropriately naming the child Oceanus. Another passenger, John Howland, fell into the sea during a fierce storm and managed to survive.
In many ways, the group’s hardships had just begun . . . the urgent need for shelter against winter weather, lack of provisions, and illness, which took half their number, lay ahead. And yet when the ship’s crew finally turned the Mayflower back to England the following spring, the Pilgrims who were left all chose to stay. Today we remember their journey and are inspired by their courage and fierceness of spirit.
Books about the Mayflower Voyage
If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern
This book’s format is question and answer, which is excellent for children, as they love to ask questions themselves! It is lengthy and not likely to be digested in one sitting, but the straightfoward text and playful illustrations make it an excellent pick for younger children. Includes a detailed cutaway drawing of the original Mayflower as well as information about life in Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving.
On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship’s Apprentice and a Passenger Girl by Kate Waters
This book truly makes history come alive! The photographs are taken aboard the Mayflower II, the replica of the Mayflower. I love how the narrative is told through the eyes of children roughly the same age as a child reading the book. (See other books from this series recommended below.) Includes notes about & a diagram of the Mayflower, as well as a glossary of 17th century terms used in the book’s dialogue.
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortuneby P.J. Lynch
Told from the perspective of John Howland, the young voyager famous for falling from the deck of the Mayflower during a terrible storm and surviving. P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are glorious and the story is both informative and affecting. Recommended for an older child due to word count and a brief reference to beheading.
Other Related Books
N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrimsby Robert San Souci, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth
This is a beautiful account of the Pilgrim story paired with illustrations from the talented 20th century American illustrator, N.C. Wyeth. The book’s focus is less on the Mayflower voyage and more on the Pilgrims first year in the New World. Wyeth’s paintings don’t coordinate perfectly with the text, so a younger child may find it text–heavy in parts.
Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boyby Kate Waters
Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girlby Kate Waters
Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Timesby Kate Waters
These three books are part of the same series as On the Mayflower, but are set in the first decade after the Pilgrims arrive. They are told from the perspective of children and photographed at Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite.
Learn more about the restoration of the Mayflower II, the replica of the Mayflower, at mayflower.plimoth.org.
Print a free coloring page of the Mayflower from plimoth.orghere.
Step aboard the Mayflower II by attending a “virtual field trip” at scholastic.comhere.