The Christmas season offers the perfect excuse to take a time out with your children. Gather the family in front of a fireplace or meet in a child's bedroom 15 minutes before bedtime — and read.
It can be any book, but the holidays always means there are old family treasures or new Christmas-themed books to pick from.
Here are sampling of some of the new titles out this year:
• “The Family Christmas Treasury,” by various writers and editors, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99. A collection of carols and children's Christmas stories with characters like Lyle the alligator or Tacky the penguin or Strega Nona. Lots of charming illustrations for many nights of reading.
• “Deck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol,” by Erin Dealey, Sleeping Bear Press, $14.99. Kids of all ages will laugh out loud at these silly lyrics to “Deck the Halls.”
• “Santa Is Coming to Nebraska,” “Santa Is Coming to Omaha” or “Santa Is Coming to Iowa,” by Steve Smallman and Robert Dunn, Sourcebook Jabberwocky, $9.99 each. What a marketing idea! Books that visit specific states and cities. The authors did their homework; towns and local landmarks are featured in the stories. For example, the Nebraska book includes such sites as the Capitol building, Joslyn Art Museum, Chimney Rock and Carhenge. The Omaha book has more sites in the city, and Iowa is specific to that state.
• “Toddler Christmas,” by Katie Saunders, Barron's, $9.99. Lots of stories and games offer hours of fun for young children. The sweet drawings are reminiscent of the “Charlie and Lola” cartoons.
• “Peace on Earth: A Christmas Collection,” by Mary Engelbreit, Zonderkidz, $17.99. The author recalls what made the holiday special as she grew up. Her lovely illustrations are what make this collection of stories and carols special.
• “An Otis Christmas,” by Loren Long, Penguin, $17.99. A horse needs to give birth but there is a problem and a vet is needed. But with all that snow on the ground, how will he get there? Leave it to Otis the tractor to save the day.
• “Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella,” by Jan Brett, G.P. Putnam's Sons, $17.99. OK, this isn't specifically a Christmas book, but it certainly looks like one because the fairy tale appears to be set in wintry Russia. As usual, Brett's art is enchanting and her chickens are beautiful.
• “The Christmas Star,” $6.99, and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” $10.99, Barron's. These two board books are perfect for little readers who can't quite manage paper pages yet. The small, clever books will become their favorites.