Books To Read As A Family This Holiday Season

by Charlotte Ahlin

We all know that The Holidays are a time for family. Eating with family, giving gifts with family, trying to hide your opinion on your uncle's new girlfriend with family—you know the drill. So why not add reading with family to your list of holiday traditions? Whether there are little children who must be kept quiet, or just adults who like to bond over all those warm and fuzzy holiday feelings, reading aloud is a great way to celebrate. Here are a few books to read as a family this holiday season.

After all, there are so many books about this time of year. Or rather, there are so many books about this time of year that you won't feel mortified to read in front of your parents. There are classic holidays tales that you probably remember from your own childhood, new picture books for all ages, humorous essays on being an elf at Macy's, and many more. No matter what kind of readers you have in your family, there's at least one book out there that will capture everyone's imagination.

Telling stories in the dead of winter to stave off madness is a time-honored human tradition. So this year, after pie and presents, gather 'round the artificial yule log and read a book together:


'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens

It's A Christmas Carol. Chances are you already know the story of the mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge, and how a bunch of ghosts terrorized him into loving Christmas. Even if you're sick of the dozens of plays and movie adaptions, the original story never gets old, and it makes for a perfect family read (with lots of opportunities for everyone to try their best British accent).

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'The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming' by Lemony Snicket

A clever little book for the family who's tired of explaining that Hanukah is not just "Jewish Christmas." A screaming latke runs through town, spreading Hanukah cheer and classic Lemony Snicket wit. Pairs well with applesauce and sour cream.

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'The Book of Christmas' by Brendan Lehane

The Book of Christmas is practically begging to be read aloud. It's an eclectic volume of stories, from Mary and Joseph to The Nutcracker to the European pagan myths that contribute to our modern Christmas traditions. For anyone who's ever wondered why we bring pine trees inside the house and what it has to do with a town called Bethlehem, this book has the answers.

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'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' by Dr. Seuss

What can I say? It's the Grinch! He rivals Scrooge for grumpy characters who learn to love the holidays. This is a great one if there are little kids running around underfoot, but even adults can enjoy Seuss's rhyme-scheme and wild Whoville contraptions.

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'The Gift of the Magi' by O. Henry

Here's another classic for a slightly older audience. A young couple living in New York at the turn of the Twentieth Century just want to buy each other Christmas gifts... but neither has any money. Of course, in true O. Henry fashion, the result is a simple yet deeply touching story of love and sacrifice.

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'Trouble with Trolls' by Jan Brett

Look, not every holiday read has to be about an actual holiday. Sometimes you just want to read a gorgeously illustrated picture book about a little girl and her dog outwitting some trolls against a beautiful, snowy backdrop. Trouble with Trolls is adorable, clever, and full of cute little artistic details.

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'A Christmas Story' by Jean Shepherd

This is the book that inspired the classic film. If your family is familiar with young Ralphie and that lamp that looks like a sexy leg, then this is the book to read aloud. It's an affectionate, wry reminiscence on childhood, and the controlled chaos of family holidays.

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'The Snowy Day' by Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day is an absolute classic, must-read wintry children's book. The art is so simple, but so evocative. If your family includes children who like to play in the snow, you can't go wrong with this magical little adventure about the first snowfall in a city.

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'Holidays on Ice' by David Sedaris

Alternatively, if your family is all people above the drinking age, break out the David Sedaris for a slightly cynical, holiday-themed laugh. Holidays on Ice is a book of humorous essays and short stories for adults, including the famous Santaland Diaries, about Sedaris's brief turn as an elf at Macy's.

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'The Polar Express' by Chris Van Allsburg

There's just something about Chris Van Allsburg's artwork... it's utterly beautiful, completely enchanting, and maybe a tad creepy. Whatever it is, it all comes together to make The Polar Express one of the most beloved holiday books of all time. Share it with both older and younger generations, and capture that holiday magic all over again.

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Images: Walt Disney Pictures