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Holiday book recommendations from Highland Lakes librarians

Herman Brown Free Library tech Kaylie Milum

Kaylie Milum, library tech at the Herman Brown Free Library in Burnet, holds a copy of 'The Broken Ornament,' one of several holiday books recommended by Highland Lakes librarians. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

Once you’ve read The Picayune Magazine, you’ll need something else to cozy up to in the evening after a busy day of holiday activities. Check out this list of family-friendly holiday reads compiled by library staff in Burnet and Llano counties. 


“All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah”

Written by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Published by Schwartz & Wade, Sept. 11, 2018

“All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah”follows sisters Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie through the joys and misadventures of helping their mother prepare for Hanukkah. 

Set in New York City at the turn of the century, the book shares the story of an immigrant family and the importance of family tradition. 

The picture book is based on the works of Sydney Taylor, a Jewish immigrant from New York who created the “All-of-a-Kind Family” series in the early 1900s. 

“Bear Stays Up for Christmas”

Written by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman 

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 53,016th edition, Oct. 7, 2008

Bear is always missing out on Christmas fun because of hibernation. This year, his friends are determined to help him stay awake to share in their Christmas cheer. 

Written with a sing-song rhyme scheme, this beautifully illustrated picture book captures the hearts of both young and old. It’s part of a nine-book series.

“The Broken Ornament”

Written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Sept. 18, 2018

While decorating the Christmas tree with his parents, Jack drops and breaks one of his mother’s ornaments. To his amazement, a Christmas fairy appears from the fragments  and teaches him the significance of memories and that what’s important in life isn’t always shiny and new.

“The Christmas Song: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”

Written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells; illustrated by Doris Barrette 

Published by HarperCollins, Oct. 9, 2007 

Celebrate Mel Torme’s classic “The Christmas Song.” Beautiful illustrations are paired with the original lyrics first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946. The book can be read or sung.

“There’s an Elf in Your Book” 

Written by Tom Fletcher; illustrated by Greg Abbott 

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, Sept. 1, 2020

Follow an elf’s silly directions throughout this read-aloud interactive book. A great choice for storytime. Kids will get a kick out of trying to help the elf. 

“The Night Before Christmas”

Written by Clement Moore; illustrated by Jan Brett

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Oct. 13, 2020 

A classic Christmas Eve read-aloud first published in 1823. This version includes the addition of two stowaway elves in Santa’s sleigh. Beautifully detailed pictures by Jan Brett add to the joy of the holidays. 

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

“Oscar the Hungry Unicorn Eats Christmas” 

Written by Lou Carter; illustrated by Nikki Dyson

Published by Orchard Books, Nov. 17, 2020

Oscar, an adorable and very hungry unicorn, eats his way through almost all of Christmas, chomping the decorations, the stockings, and even the tree. Read along to find out what he’ll eat next.

“The Polar Express”

Written and illustrated by Chris Van Alls­burg

Published by Houghton Mifflin, Jan. 7, 1985

Unsure that Santa is real, a boy takes a ride on a magical train called the Polar Express, which delivers him to the North Pole to see the magic of Christmas firsthand.

“Snowmen at Christmas” 

Written by Caralyn Buehn­er; illustrated by Mark Buehner 

Published by Dial Books, Sept. 15, 2005 

A book of bouncy verse that looks at what snowmen do while everyone else is asleep. 

A board book, “Snowmen at Christmas” includes a visit by a snowman Kris Kringle. 

“Turkey Claus”

Written by Wendi Silvano; illustrated by Lee Harper 

Published by Two Lions, Nov. 6, 2012 

After narrowly dodging a place on the Thanksgiving table, Turkey wants Santa’s help to keep him off the Christmas menu as well. 

Follow Turkey’s journey to the North Pole in this story filled with hilarious illustrations. 


“Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” 

Written by James Clear

Published by Avery, Oct. 16, 2018

A best-seller and a great choice for resolution season. Clear’s strategies are based on biology, psychology, and neuroscience, and he illustrates his principles with a host of inspiring examples and case studies as well as his own experiments with habits. 

Whatever the changes you’re hoping to make in 2022, this book can help you focus.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

Written by Barbara Robinson

Published by HarperCollins, April 12, 2005 

Comically follows the unruly and bullish Herdman siblings as they learn the story of Jesus’ birth while participating in the local Christmas pageant. Readers will have a newfound understanding of Christmas while being thoroughly entertained at the same time. 

“Christmas in the Sisters: A Holiday Mystery Novel”

Book Six in the Sisters, Texas Mystery Series written by Becki Willis

Published by Becki Willis, Oct. 25, 2017

Stolen presents, kidnappers in Santa suits, a sweet romance, a dash of suspense, and plenty of Texas ambience combine to make for fun holiday reading. 

With 11 other books in this cozy mystery series, readers can build a Christmas tradition. 

“The Christmas Shoes”

Written by Donna VanLiere

Published by St. Martin’s Press; reissue edition, May 27, 2008 

Follows the story of two characters: Robert, a lawyer who has everything money can buy but has lost sight of what is important; and Nathan, an impoverished boy trying to get his dying mother a pair of beautiful shoes for Christmas. 

Look for these holiday books and others at your local library, including: