What a wonderful time of the year to enjoy family, gather, and read stories together that celebrate this joyous season. The following are picture books and are perfect to share with all family members unless otherwise indicated.

My Christmas Wish for You, written and illustrated by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar, is a simple celebration of love and striving for the best. The rhyming text expresses with jubilant glee the many ways without spending money to celebrate Christmas with loved ones. Mittens and snowballs,/ snow angels and boots,/ snowmen and sledding/ with hollers and hoots. The unadorned art matches the text making this book a perfect way to express simple Christmas wishes for all.

Carla and the Christmas Cornbread, by Carla Hall and brightly painted with full page acrylics by Cherise Harris, shows how you can overcome mistakes with better ideas in the future. When young Carla takes a big bite out of a delicious looking cookie, she realizes she just ate a cookie meant for Santa. But Granny comes to the rescue and together they create the most delicious Christmas Cornbread. The story is inspired from the author’s childhood and includes the recipe found at the back of the book.

The Little Owl & The Big Tree: A Christmas Story, by Jonah Winter with vibrant illustrations by Jeanette Winter, is based on a true story about a little saw-whet owl huddled in the trunk of a huge spruce tree. The owlet was jarred awake when a truck was carrying the tree to New York City to become the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. More information about what happens to this famous tiny owl, who was named Rocky, can be found at the back of the book.

The First Christmas, beautifully painted with acrylics by Will Moses is based on the lyrics from the cherished hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem. The words from the song were written in 1876 by Phillips Brook who was the rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia. The organist, Lewis H. Radner, put music to these sacred words. The art fills each page and emphasizes glory to God on each page. You’ll find the complete hymnal at the back of the book along with Moses’ inspiration to creating the illustrations.

Santa Mouse Where Are You?, by Michael Brown and nicely painted with nostalgia by Elfrieda De Witt, is a delightful rhyming tale about Santa’s tiniest helper. But when Santa Mouse slips from Santa’s sleigh, how will he ever find him again? This will surely become a family favorite. Be sure to check out the gorgeous end-pages.

12 Days of Princesses, by Holly Rice and brightly illustrated in Disney fashion by John John Bajet, is a clever take-off from the traditional “The 12 Days of Christmas”. Each day features a different princess who is giving a wondrous gift. On the tenth day of Christmas, a princess gave to me…ten dinglehoppers. The princess featured is Ariel. What a delight and begs to be sung all the way through.

The Wishing Tree, by Meika Hashimoto and digitally illustrated by Xindi Yan, is a sweet tale of a young boy, Theo, who desires to show his town the true meaning of Christmas. There are 12 punch-out cards that family members can write their own wishes and hang them on the tree creating a family tradition in the making.

The Robin & The Fir Tree, retold by Jason Jameson, is a beautiful retelling of the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen. The Fir Tree lives far away from the city but wishes he could be part of the excitement of city life. His friend, a tiny Robin, brought him roses to decorate his branches. The fir tree continues to long to see more than just the forest. What happens to this tree and his little friend might just become a favorite among family members. The art is exquisite and done in graphite pencil and colored digitally stylizing a European folk character.

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas, by Mark Lee and brightly illustrated with pictures filling the open page by Kurt Cyrus, is the perfect story celebrating hauling the huge Christmas tree in the center of town. This rhyming tale captures the essence of a cold snowy Christmas time with youngsters opening their mouths to catch the snowflakes and foggy breaths. There are many types of trucks coming into town that youngsters, ages two to five, will enjoy counting. And there’s a surprise waiting at story’s end.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore with this version painted with watercolor and gouache by the renowned P. J. Lynch, is a story every family probably owns. However, this version is elegant in the details of every page. The painting of jolly old St. Nick is a treasure! This is one book to keep for the ages.

Leah’s Star: A Nativity Story, by Margaret Bateson-Hill and beautifully painted completely filling the page by Karin Littlewood, is a retelling of the Nativity through the eyes of a young girl, Leah. She is the innkeeper’s daughter and to read this version through her eyes brings the humanity into this tremendous event in world history.