The magic of children’s picture books: Must-read titles for the Holiday Season

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Sharing a book and reading aloud from a picture book is a fantastic way to boost children’s imagination, creativity, and language development. Favorite titles for the holiday season are perfect for sharing – and quickly become established as firm family favorites.

Here are five beautiful picture books for the holidays, as chosen by the Blueprint team.


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Originally written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore, the Christmas poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, has become a tradition for many families to read on Christmas Eve. A family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem anonymously in 1823. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry.

Today, you can find many published pictorial versions of the poem, but perhaps the most beautiful is the Folio edition, beautifully illustrated by Ella Beech.


The Nutcracker

This classic love story, which inspired Tchaikovsky’s magical ballet score, is originally a German story. For the most beautiful picture book version of this classic tale, we highly recommend the retelling by David Walser, in a direct translation from the German. Most magical of all are its incredible paper cutouts – the work of Jan Pienkowski, a master of illustration. Pienkowski brings the story vividly to life with exquisite illustrations on sparkling backgrounds. The finale is a multi-layered tableau of intricate laser-cut silhouettes, created in the style of traditional German papercraft.


How the Grinch stole Christmas

A modern classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was first published as a book by Random House in 1957. Written by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel in rhymed verse with illustrations by the author, the tale is a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas as much it as it is a complaint about the season’s over-commercialization. The story follows the Grinch, a cranky, solitary creature who attempts to thwart the public’s Christmas plans by stealing Christmas gifts and decorations from the homes of the nearby town of Whoville on Christmas Eve – until the Grinch realizes that Christmas is not all about money and presents.


The Polar Express

The beautiful illustrations are the real charm of this story, written by American author Chris Van Allsburg in 1985. It tells the tale of a young boy who boards a mysterious train. It is the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When the boy arrives at its destination, Santa offers him any gift he desires. The boy asks for one bell from the reindeer’s harness – which turns out to be a very special gift because only believers in Santa can hear it ring.

For a special pre-Christmas gift for a little one, this box set includes a mini hardback of the Christmas classic, the magic sleighbell from the story, a write-your-own letter to Santa, and your very own golden Polar Express ticket!


The Snowman

The Snowman is a wordless 1978 picture book by artist Raymond Briggs. In 1982, the tale of a Christmas dream made real was turned into a British animated television film and symphonic poem, with music scored by Howard Blake including the famous song Walking in the Air. The film and picture book have delighted children and adults alike ever since. While the original picture book and animated film are both well worthy of becoming a holiday tradition, the tale has now been retold by award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo. Inspired by the timeless tale, Morpurgo has added words to craft a truly magical new story that is inspired by Raymond Briggs’ classic. Morpurgo and Robin Shaw have created the perfect story for the whole family to share together as a new Christmas tradition.


What next?

Find more reading and holiday ideas on our blog: