I’m so excited to have Miranda Liasson on the blog today to share her favorite children’s Christmas books! When I dreamed up Bookish Little Christmas 8 years ago and began inviting authors to participate with guest posts, this post here is the exact kind of post I was hoping to receive. I love the cozy books she chose and the memories she shared of her childhood and her life as a mother. Make sure you read about her latest release and enter to win the entire Angel Falls series!
Miranda’s Favorite Children’s Holiday Books
My first thought at revisiting my favorite kids’ holiday books was—I’d LOVE to talk about that! Such happy times, such good memories.
As all of you who love books know, our memories of books are often bonded to our souls.
But a funny thing happened as I pulled out the old bin of kids’ books from my attic. I came to realize that my wonderful memories of books—some from my own childhood, others from my kids’ time—are overshadowed by even more powerful memories—of my mom, who’s been gone a long time, and of my kids, all now in their 20’s. I still see them all lined up next to me on our crazily-patterned couch with their blankies and sippy cups—and the dog, just another one of the kids, ready to snuggle in too.
At this time of the year, we crack open books for our kids that imbue a special sense of hope and the meaning of the holiday (whichever ones we celebrate). We want to pass on that legacy of love and giving. And as we enjoy them with our children, we feel their sense of wonder and awe spread to us as well.
I hope you enjoy my little trip down memory lane as you create your own memories this season with your families!
1960 Edition of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Catherine Barnes
This is a large book—10 by 13 inches, to be exact. And it deserves this big, sumptuous size so we can fully appreciate the amazing illustrations. This book, which I own from my childhood, is sadly out of print. I did find a copy for $250 somewhere on the Internet if you’re interested!
Even better, I found this amazing YouTube video done a few years ago by an amazing music teacher wanting her second graders to learn in a fun way the lines to the famous poem. You can appreciate it—and her own love for this book—here.
On my copy, as the teacher’s in the video, the binding is taped and the pages may have a few smudges, evidence of how beloved this book was not only by me but by my children too.
As the tale unfolds, we experience in sharp detail that the narrator of Moore’s famous poem is the dad of his sleeping family, and we discover Santa along with him, during one wild night of interrupted sleep.
My love of Victorian homes probably started here, as they are shown, beautiful and snow-covered in the sleepy gray light of the moon.
I still remember my mom pretending to pull out a cookie from the gorgeous display, saying things like, that dad’s feet must’ve been cold when they hit that floor, and the inflection of her voice as she said Doooown the chimney he came with a bound!
It is no wonder I am a writer. With an expressive mom like that, what else could I possibly be?
The teacher reading the story in the video does it beautifully. But her narration made me realize that everyone’s experience of a great story is unique—different inflections, different pauses. And, of course, surely different commentary. Yet another amazing thing about books!
Little Golden Book Edition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, original copyright 1958
Rudolph is the classic underdog story. In this edition, passed down to me from my dear neighbors, Rudolph, ashamed to have Santa see his red nose, decides to hide where no one would find him—in a toy pirate chest with a heavy wooden lid and brass hinges. An illustration shows him, nose glowing, climbing deep into a giant green box.
Yes, there is a wealth of take-home lessons here—be yourself, take pride in your differences, etc. But again, it’s my mom’s wise take on Rudolph’s temporary act of cowardice that has stuck with me over the years…
“You see,” I can still hear her saying, “even heroes have moments where they need time to regroup.”
Renee Graef’s Illustrations of Picture Books based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books
Every girl my age in the 70’s read the wildly popular Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
Picture books published years later, when my kids were little (which are still in print today, including a hardcover anthology of all the picture books together), illustrated by Renee Graef, paid homage to the stories and the classic black-and-white Garth Williams illustrations.
Each little picture book re-tells part of the original stories. The illustrations are in color and gorgeous, and Laura’s same heartwarming tone is present in a simpler form. In the book Christmas in the Big Woods, the Ingalls family gets company from afar for and Laura gets a beloved rag doll she names Charlotte.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, Illustrated by P.J. Lynch
This book will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary. I bought it for my kids but it is one of my favorite picture books of all time, period.
This book has perfect storytelling married to amazing illustrations, and both create a marriage made in heaven. It is about a broken man who has lost his wife and lives as a woodcarver at the edge of town. He is visited by a young boy and his widowed mother because she has lost her manger set and would like another made. Eventually she asks if her son could watch him work because he’s interested in becoming a woodcarver too. Jonathan begrudgingly lets them in to his home—and his life. The story unfolds with perfect pacing and is so filled with emotion, I usually start crying on the first page and don’t stop until it’s over. This is a haunting, beautiful story about the healing power of love. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and experience this book!
Little Rabbit’s Christmas, a cloth storybook Illustrated by Brian Bartle, 2000
This is an ingenious little cloth book that zips up for a child to carry around, which my son did A LOT. It has a tiny quilted rabbit on the inside on an attached string that can be moved from page to page as Little Rabbit gets himself into various Christmas situations. The reason this one goes on my favorite list, besides being vey cleverly put together, is that there is a page where Little Rabbit is allowed to sleep in the living room so he can listen for Santa, prompting my then-young son to ask (over and over) to do the same.
Sadly, I was not as lenient as Little Rabbit’s mom, putting MY little rabbit to bed upstairs, far away from the Christmas tree.
Lastly, I wanted to share a photo with you, taken on the very same crazy couch I told you about. You can’t see the ever-present basket of library books, many of which I just told you about. And you can only see the reflected lights in the window behind the kids from our Christmas tree that year.
But what you do notice is the shock and awe on my three kids’ faces.
This particular year, through a friend, we were able to procure a puppy from a litter that just happened to be ready right before Christmas. (The only reason we were able to do that was because the breeder knew my brother well.) My husband drove an hour to pick this little dog up in a snowstorm. I stayed behind, and I clearly remember reading a boatload of Christmas stories, trying to keep everyone busy and hold in my own anticipation. Then at last my husband walked in.
I don’t know how I managed to capture this moment on film, but it is priceless to me.
Maggie went on to become a member of our family for the next fifteen years, often curling up with the gang to listen to many books being read aloud too.
I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with love, hope, and great stories!
Check out Miranda’s latest Christmas novel, All I Want for Christmas Is You, book #3 in the Angel Falls series.
Enter to win a copy of the entire series at the bottom of this post.
All I Want for Christmas Is You by Miranda Liasson
Series: Angel Falls #3
Published by Forever on October 29, 2019
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Holiday – Christmas
Amazon • Add to Goodreads
Being naughty was nice, but now these friends-turned-lovers are in for an unforgettable Christmas…
Just when Kaitlyn Barnes vows to get over her longtime crush on Rafe Langdon, they share a sizzling evening that delivers an epic holiday surprise: Kaitlyn is pregnant. And if that weren’t life-changing enough, everyone assumes they’re engaged — a charade they must keep alive through the holiday season. But Kaitlyn knows Rafe better than anyone, and Rafe settling down is about as likely as Santa skipping Angel Falls this year…
Rafe would rather Kaitlyn believe a lie — that their night together was a fling — than face his own dangerous truth: he’s falling for her, hard. After a devastating loss, Rafe swore he’d never risk his heart again. Yet the longer they pretend to be engaged the more Rafe starts to want the real thing. But now he has to convince Kaitlyn he wants to be by her side — and their baby’s — for all the Christmases to come.
About Miranda Liasson
Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better!
She’s a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and an Amazon bestselling author whose heartwarming and humorous small–town romances have won accolades such as the National Readers’ Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and have been Harlequin Junkie and Night Owl Reviews Top Picks.
She lives in the Midwest with her husband and three kids in a charming old neighborhood which is the inspiration for many of the homes in her books.
Miranda loves to hear from readers! Find her at Facebook.com/MirandaLiassonAuthor, and on Instagram and Twitter @mirandaliasson. For information about new releases and other news, feel free to sign up for her newsletter at https://mirandaliasson.com/#mailing-list.