Our Favorite Holiday Books

Today I want to share some of our family’s favorite holiday books. My kids are too old for them now, but when I bring them up from the basement every year, the three of them squeal or sigh and sit down to read.















Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hymn

Let me begin by saying that I have read this book thousands of times, during the cold dark nights of the season and the bright warm nights of summer. My kids, especially my daughter, loved this book. The goblins are creepy and by the end downright scary, but Hershel cleverly outsmarts them again and again.












Herbie’s Secret Santa written and illustrated by Petra Mathers

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books because it addresses a side of life that is so real and so rarely mentioned. Herbie makes an impulsive mistake. He feels bad about it, and he makes amends. Like the other books about Herbie and his dear friend Lottie, it’s authentic and quirky. Of course Vince is making Christmas pickles. Doesn’t everyone? To me this story feels deeply connected to the essence of the holiday.















The Trees of the Dancing Goats written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

I love this book because it acknowledges that people who celebrate Christmas and people who celebrate Hannukah live together as neighbors and friends (and even family members). When scarlet fever rages through their town, the central family celebrates their traditions and enables their sick friends to celebrate theirs. This is a deeply respectful and caring story.














The Gift of Nothing written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

This book has charming characters (Mooch and Earl from the comic strip Mutts), clever language play, and in the end gets to the heart of what’s really important about sharing “special days.” It’s just been adapted into a musical, which I hope to see despite being well over the recommended audience age of 4.


I hope that you enjoy your holiday (no matter what you celebrate) and get to share it with loved ones and books.

For more Poetry Friday vist Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

6 replies
  1. Buffy Silverman
    Buffy Silverman says:

    Wonderful selection, Liz! Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins is on display at my house right now–I also love Eric Kimmel’s charming “The Chanukkah Guest.” I remember reading The Tree of The Dancing Goats years ago–will have to check out the others. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Robyn Hood Black
    Robyn Hood Black says:

    What a great combination (from masters of the craft!), and I love that your kids enjoy revisiting them.
    They will enjoy sharing with their own kids one day! Wishing you and yours a warm & wonderful holiday… :0)

  3. jama
    jama says:

    What a great roundup — all the titles are new to me. Squee! Now I have some wonderful new books to look for! Your mention of Polacco’s book made me think of Boris and Stella by Dara Goldman — it’s the “gift of the magi” with one friend getting a Hanukkah gift, the other a Christmas gift. And they’re both bears! 🙂

  4. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    A long time ago we at school had a special father who came during Hanukkah to read Hershel and The Hanukkah Goblins. He read to “all” ages, & we all loved him, & of course, loved his girls who were at our school. He gave us a gift that many of us won’t forget, Liz. The book is a treasure, and a lovely memory. I know the Polacco book, but the others are new to me. Thank you for sharing your special books.


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