Great Holiday Books for Kids

Holiday Light by Susan Fry

For me, the holidays are all about dessert.  Gingerbread houses, peppermint bark, sprinkle cookies . . . there’s no better way to celebrate, especially with children.

But far too many books about the holidays are much too sweet.  The stories about the joys of giving have my boys rolling their eyes by the third page.

Here are a couple of books that can help keep your holidays sugar free, even if your desserts aren’t.


The Gingerbread Pirates, by Kristin Kladstrup, illustrated by Matt Tavares.  Children need to navigate a world much bigger than they are.  So they’ll appreciate the exploits of tiny Captain Cookie, a gingerbread pirate with a gingerbread cutlass and a peg leg made from a toothpick.  Jim and his mother have made the Captain and his crew for Santa’s snack.  But when Jim falls asleep, the resolute Captain Cookie sets out to save his men from being eaten.  He tap-steps down enormous stair “cliffs” and fights off giant nibbling mice.  When he finally finds his crew, they are imprisoned in a huge glass cookie jar, and a gigantic Santa looms over them.  Undaunted, Captain Cookie bravely raises his fists and orders Santa not to eat his crew.  Instead of munching, Santa rewards Captain Cookie by transforming all the gingerbread pirates into real toys, complete with a full pirate ship.  “The captain had a cutlass and a peg leg, and Jim loved him best of all.”  The expressions on the little pirate captain are adorably realistic, and the upraised frosting decorations look good enough to, well, eat.


Aliens Love Panta Claus, by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort.  For kids, few things are funnier than underwear, and this latest installment of the Aliens Love Underpants series is by far the best.  Because it’s Christmas, the aliens who usually steal underpants are instead giving them away.  They even go to “Lapland” to help Santa — one of the several sly jokes parents may get while kids don’t.  The aliens add underpants to all the children’s toys, dress the elves in “fancy, frilly knickers,” and replace Santa’s sack with a big, spotted pair of undies.  Funniest of all, “The reindeer wear their underpants lit up all bright and glowing.  With neon pants to light the way, it helps show where they are going.”  But beware:  kids, like the aliens, may want to replace their Christmas stockings with underwear.  The underpants are cute, blocky shapes with bright colors and patterns:  like the book, they’re good for either girls or boys.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.


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