Shine’s Holiday Book Picks

At Shine, we think the best gifts are always books. As you’re doing last minute holiday shopping, consider some of these picks from our friends in early childhood publishing. Happy Holidays!

May your holidays shine bright –
Aaron Goldschmidt, founder & director

Francesco Sedita
President & Publisher at Penguin Young Readers Group

The Scrawny Little Tree by Ed Mehler, illustrated by Susie Pollard

This is the sweetest story, originally written and published in 1973 and re-released in 2011. It’s Charlie Brown meets The Giving Tree and it’s just beautiful and precious.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

The Lllama books are all wonderful and here our pal Llama has a very special Christmas, even if he is quite impatient.

Anything Jan Brett

To me, Jan Brett is Christmas in a book. She just evokes such a wonderful, magical environment with her words and illustrations. I would really recommend “The Night Before Christmas” edition with a DVD in the back, read by Jim Dale, and with a musical score from the Boston Pops – so special.

The Boys’ Christmas Book by Tracy Turner, illustrated by Paul Moran and The Girls’ Christmas Book by Ellen Bailey, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer

These books, with puzzles, doodle pages, stories, and games – one for boys and one for girls – are so much fun for Christmas morning, a long car ride, or any time of the holiday season.

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Cecily Kaiser
Publishing Director, Children’s Books at Phaidon Press

I’m going to volunteer one that is not necessarily holiday-bent, but is all about family visiting for an occasion (any occasion!) – and it happens to be one of my favorite books of all time!

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

This book just oozes coziness and familial revelry. The text is sparse, leaving the illustrations to do much of the storytelling. Stephen’s details add humor and something new to discover in each reading. The start to finish of this delicious picture book is an experience in family, in sharing, and in multi-generational appreciation. It warms you and reminds you that time with family is something to savor.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

It’s the literary articulation of the tendency of young children to love The Box more than the gift inside. Imaginative, stylish, and encouraging, this book does a lovely job of celebrating how little we need to play all day!


Carmela Iaria
VP, Marketing and Merchandising, Scholastic Book Clubs

Make a Wish Bear by Greg Foley

Soft, silly, and sweet – I want to hug this book. A little bear ventures into a snowy field and wishes on a star. His animal friends join him one by one as he waits for his wish to come true. The story is simple (and the text is very large, which I’ve just learned is super convenient when you’re reading aloud to a squirming baby on your lap 🙂 ) but important – true friendship is the best gift of all.

The Best Christmas Ever by Chih-Yuan Chen

This quiet and tender tale really captures the spirit of the season. The Bear family is down; dad lost his job and there isn’t much money for celebration. But Mom and dad do their best to spread holiday cheer (think homemade decorations and yummy food). The real hero is Little Bear though. His big heart and admirable resourcefulness lead to gifts under the tree for everyone. The best part: the reader only knows it’s Little Bear by spotting the visual clues throughout the book. Moving from sadness to hopefulness to joy, this is a meaningful book filled with emotion and purpose.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

As a child, I was mesmerized by how BAD the grinch was. I had never known someone so evil, which makes his redemption all the more powerful. The story is wild, the rhymes are wonderful, and the criticism of the commercialization of Christmas is a message every kid should hear.

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Daniel Moreton
Author & Illustrator

The holidays are about family, however we define that. For many of us our dear friends become family. One of my favorite author illustrators is Max Velthuijs from the Netherlands, and his book Frog in Winter is a great tale of friendship between a frog, a rabbit, and pig, and a duck!

While the next two are not necessarily holiday books specifically, they are, in my opinion, the best books on parental love and power of enduring friendship: Amos and Boris and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.

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