There's nothing quite like the holidays for young children. This time of year is thrilling and mysterious, full of comforting rituals and wild excess—treats, toys, relatives, dressing up, parties, up past bedtime—and children are at the center of it all. No matter what your family celebrates this time of year, one thing we all have in common are the books and toys that come out of hiding each December. Below, we've shared some of our favorite books and toys that only appear at this most wonderful time of the year.
Little ones love Christmastime because it is a feast for the senses: the lights, the decorations, the music, and yes, the sweet smells. This story captures the delicious childhood anticipation of Christmas like no other. Little Bear knows that Christmas is coming—he smells the apple pie, the piney tree, hot chocolate, minty candy canes, and more. Little readers share his excitement through scratch-and-sniff scents.
We love all of the stories about this little llama, but this holiday tale is particularly well done. Poor Llama just can't wait for Christmas, and all of the lights and tinsel and shopping and cookies prove to be too much. Llama has a Christmas Eve meltdown, but some quiet holiday time with mama reminds little llama of the true beauty of the season.
There are a boatload of Christmas books for kids and quite a few Hanukkah books, but not many that tell of a family that celebrates both. This lovely little book tells the story of Emma, who celebrates Hanukkah with her father and Christmas with her mother. It doesn't get into the religious specifics of each holiday, but instead focuses on the traditions that make each holiday special in this family.
This book tells a shortened version of Dickens' Christmas classic that is better suited to younger, shorter attention spans, but stays true to the original. Much of the rich language is preserved, and Helquist (best known for his illustrations of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events) has created beautiful illustrations that bring the story to life.
If you are introducing the story of the Nativity to your preschoolers, there's no better way to bring it to life than to give them their own creche to set up and play with. You probably already have some Little People floating around your house and your kids will love getting to know the Nativity story with these familiar toys.
This winter holiday toy has been a favorite in our house for three years running. My son was just over a year old when he received it as a gift and now, at four, he still loves it. The solid wood pieces make a satisfying "clack" as he drops them over the peg to create the snowman over and over.
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