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I recently met Cathryn Mercier, Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, at a holiday event. She was discussing 2013 children’s books and sharing printed lists of recommended titles. Besides being a welcoming and enthusiastic proponent of children’s literature, Mercier is a frequent contributor to The Horn Book and has been a member of both the Newbery and Caldecott award committees. In other words, she knows her stuff.

The following is Mercier’s list of classic holiday titles, originally prepared for the Highlands Congregational Church, which Mercier has graciously allowed me to reprint. She includes my favorite Dylan Thomas (yay!) and also one title that I can’t believe I left off my listThe Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. My only excuse is that it wasn’t on the shelf for reference at the time; instead, it was tucked into our reading spot in the kids’ room. If that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

Merry reading, everyone!

  • Little Santa, Jon Agee
  • The Snowman, Raymond Briggs
  • The Clown of God, Tomie dePaola
  • A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, illus. P.J. Lynch
  • The Story of Holly & Ivy, Rumer Godden, illus. Barbara Cooney
  • The Nutcracker, E.T.A. Hoffman, illus. Maurice Sendak
  • My First Kwanzaa, Karen Katz
  • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Eric Kimmel, illus. Trina Schart Hyman
  • Star Mother’s Youngest Child, Louise Moeri, illus. Trina Schart Hyman
  • The Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore, illus. Rachel Isadora
  • Baboushka and the Three Kings, Ruth Robbins, illus. Nicolas Kidjakov
  • The Christmas Alphabet, Robert Sabuda
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Suess
  • Dusk, Uri Shulevitz
  • Hanukkah: A Counting Book, Emily Spier
  • A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas, illus. Ellen Raskin
  • The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Nativity, Julie Vivas
  • L’il Rabbit’s Kwanzaa, Donna L Washington, illus. Shane W. Evans