YA/Picture Book Pairings: Holiday Reads

It’s almost Christmas–which means that many of us have a few days off to look forward to, hopefully with some reading time scheduled in. I always look forward to picking up one of my new Christmas gift books, but I also like to read and share with my kids fun seasonal stories at this time of year, too. Here are some possibilities for both you and the young kids in your life this holiday season:

Picture Books

captain_sky_blueCaptain Sky Blue. By Richard Egielski. Jack receives the pilot Captain Sky Blue (“Sky”) and a model plane kit one Christmas, and the two of them have great fun building and flying the plane. When a fun trick, an errant hat, and a bad storm blow Sky far away, he has a wild adventure getting back to Jack–and he saves Santa’s flight on the following Christmas along the way.

Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins. By Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. This is an older Hanukkah book–I remember reading it when I was a kid–but the pictures that earned Ms. Hyman a Caldecott Honor and the fun story about Hershel tricking goblins continues to make the book a fun choice.Hershel_hanukkah_goblins

It’s Christmas, David! By David Shannon. Shannon’s David books are hits around my house, and the Christmas installment was no different. Poor David gets in constant trouble in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and even believes for a short period that he’s going to be stuck on Santa’s “bad” list. My kids love David’s crazier antics (note that there are bodily fluids involved) and I love the realistic portrayals of how parents sometimes deal with those antics (guilty!). Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.

The Nutcracker. Retold and illustrated by Susan Jeffers. We went through a post-Christmas Nutcracker story binge in my house last year, so I have read LOTS of Nutcracker retellings. In my humble opinion, this is the best one for anyone who’s going to have to read a story aloud 50 times. It covers basically the same plot as most of the ballet productions, it has beautiful pictures, and it’s not too long.

rabbits_snow_danceRabbit’s Snow Dance. Retold by James and Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Jeff Newman. This is a fun retelling of an Iroquois folktale: it both relates a fun story of when Rabbit decides to make it snow in the summer and explains why rabbits have such short tales. Great for read-alouds, young children will both enjoy the rhyme that goes along with Rabbit’s snow dance and identify with wanting snow right now.


YA Books

Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances. By John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. This is just what it sounds like: three fun romances, set during a snowstorm in rural Virginia. While the characters and romances are great, what really makes the book is how each of the three stories ends up being interconnected.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Edited by Stephanie Perkins. A fabulous collection of holiday short stories, by a wide variety of well-knownMy_true_love_gave_to_me YA authors, including Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Matt de la Peña, and others. Like Let It Snow, this collection is heavy on romance, but there’s also some hilarious moments and some thought-provoking ones.

Wintersmith. By Terry Pratchett (Best Books for Young Adults 2007). Witch-in-training Tiffany Aching runs into a new challenge when the Wintersmith–the one who brings the snow and cold–falls for her. She’ll need all her skills and the help of the hilarious “Wee Free Men” to save her home from endless winter. This is the third book in the series about Tiffany Aching–readers may want to start with The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky.

winterspellWinterspell. By Claire Legrand. This dark fantasy based on the Nutcracker story is not one to share with young children. In 1899, Clara Stole lives a double life: as the New York City mayor’s proper daughter, and as her Godfather Drosselmeyer’s well-trained spying and self-defense apprentice. When her corrupt father is kidnapped on Christmas Eve by otherworldy beings, Clara must join forces with a deposed prince to save him.

WinterTown. By Stephen Emond. Evan looks forward to the holidays mostly because it’s the one time of year he gets to see his childhood best wintertownfriend, Lucy. This year, though, Lucy shows up with a nose piercing, hair chopped short and dyed black, and talking in one word sentences. Evan isn’t sure he can break through the ice and reconnect with his old friend, or even that she wants him to–but he’s at least going to give it a try.

Whatever you pick up for your holiday reading, enjoy!

-Libby Gorman, currently reading WinterTown, by Stephen Emond