Carolyn Allen

Christmas Day is right around the corner and time is running out for those special presents for all those special people. Here are some excellent ideas – and, of course, they are all books! The first three books are perfect for the entire family. Appropriate ages will be indicated for the rest of the books.


Sam’s Christmas Wish, by George D. Durrant, and beautifully illustrated by Dan Burr, is a picture book that tells the perfect Christmas story portraying service to others, love for your fellowman and the ultimate sacrifice. A curmudgeon, Sam, has recently lost his job and wants no help from anyone, especially his neighbors. When presents suddenly appear inside his house on Christmas, he’s upset and wants the vandal who broke into his house – arrested. Fortunately for his wife and children, his heart is softened and the presents stay. Years later something happens in his life that allows him to pay back the kindness shown to him and his family on that Christmas Day.

A Christ-Centered Christmas: Seven Traditions to Lead Us Closer to the Savior, by Emily Belle Freeman, was first published in 2010 and I’m thrilled that it has just been reissued in paperback. This is one of my favorite books for this season. It takes you through each of the seven gifts based on a figure in a Nativity set. Each gift is divided into a teachable lesson and with activities and food to follow. This small-sized book is the perfect way to bring your family closer to Christ.

God Bless Us, Every One! The Story Behind A Christmas Carol, as read by John Rhys-Davies, and gorgeously painted by Brandon Dorman, recounts how Charles Dickens came to write this famous story of selfishness, and then redemption. There is a DVD included with samplings that showcases Mr. Rhys-Davies narrating and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing as the story unfolds. The paintings in this beautiful picture book are breathtaking and capture the essence of clothing and lifestyles of England when Dickens wrote this classic.


Fairy Tale Christmas, by Michael and Scott McLean, is a great fantasy adventure geared for the middle-grade reader. Fairy tale characters are tired of the good characters always winning. So they have a plan that includes kidnapping Santa Claus to cause these good guys to stop always being so good. There are delightful drawings sprinkled throughout and the ultimate message is a strong and positive one.

12 Days of Christmas: Six Sisters’ Stuff: 144 Ideas for Traditions, Homemade Gifts, Recipes and More, is filled with easy, creative and inexpensive ideas to make for friends, neighbors and family. The book is packed with delicious and unique recipes, projects, and ideas to help fulfill a great holiday season. There are full-color photos found throughout as well as instructions for crafting or baking that are easy to follow. This book is great for the entire family to enjoy.

Twas The Night Before Christmas: A Holiday Classic, by Clement C. Moore, is the original tale with the original illustrations by Willcox Smith. This smallish sized picture book is a must for families and is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The next two books are good for ages three to seven: 5-Minute Minnie Tales, published by Disney Press, includes twelve stories about Minnie Mouse. Every story is short, enjoyable and will only take about 5 minutes to read. Disney Frozen Sing-Along Storybook is a retelling of the Disney movie with vivid illustrations taken from the movie. The text is large and relatively simple, with few sentences on each page, making this perfect for ages three and up. There are words to three of the most popular songs found in the back of the book. The CD included is an instrumental sing along.

Klutz has some new activity books, with the components included, making these books wonderful gifts you can make immediately after receiving them. I especially love this company because these projects encourage children to learn how to read and then follow directions. These include: Air Power: Rocket Science Made Simple by Pat Murphy (components to build a hovercraft, launch a helicopter and more for ages 8 and up), Straw Shooter Jets (components to build and launch 5 different aeronautical designs for ages 8 and up), Felted Friends by Kaitlyn Nichols (create different soft animals that are easy to assemble for ages 10 and up), Loop Loom Bracelets by Anne Akers Johnson (includes a loom, beads, stretchy cord and 11 different styles for ages 8 and up) and The Marvelous Book of Magical Mermaids by Eva Steele-Saccio (contains 6 different mermaids, 3 paper seahorseMagics, and over 200 punch-out fashions for ages 6 and up). 


The last recommendations for gifts are packaged sets which include: Animals Animals Animals, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, containing 3 award winning hardback books about interesting and amazing animals and which also has 20 animal stickers. This set is good for ages 3 to 8. Pete the Cat’s Super Cool Reading Collection, by James Dean, contains 5 small paperback books for the newest readers. Just Grace Boxed Set, by Charise Mericle Harper, has 3 paperback books featuring 3rd-grader Grace as she experiences many delightful and funny adventures. This series is good for ages 7 to 10. Bruce Coville’s Magic Shop Books includes 5 of his more popular books written with a theme of magical items found in a magic shop and with different children featured in each book. Kids ages 9 to 12 will love this set of books!