'Tis the season to read aloud

Family reading
A family gathers by the Christmas tree with a good book.
George Marks/Getty Images

'Tis the season to spend time with the ones you love: family, friends and favorite books. Winter evenings are the perfect time for reading stories aloud by the fireplace (or by the YouTube video of a fireplace).

Video: Virtual Fireplace

We asked children's booksellers around the country for their favorite books to read aloud during the holiday season. Deck your bookshelf with these classic titles and new favorites:

Holiday hits

"Twelve Days of Christmas in Minnesota" by Constance Van Hoven

Van Hoven's playful text and Mike Wohoutka's illustrations bring Minnesota's unique history and traditions to life. "Minnesotans have their own special ways of celebrating Christmas!"
— Joan Trygg, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.

"Here Comes Santa Cat" by Deborah Underwood

Cat has not been very good this year, but he has a plan to still get presents. Will it work? A purr-fect pick from Valerie Koehler of the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

"Letters from Father Christmas" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien's magic isn't confined to Middle Earth. Every December, Tolkien's children received an illustrated letter from "Father Christmas" about his adventures at the North Pole. In the letters, reindeer wreak havoc, an accident-prone polar bear nearly ruins Christmas and, in true Tolkien fashion, a horde of goblins makes trouble.

Twenty years of Tolkien's wildly imaginative winter letters are compiled in this festive collection.

"Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" by Eric Kimmel

The story of Herschel is a much-recommended holiday favorite. In this humorous tale with vivid illustrations by Trinta Schart Hyman, Herschel must defeat holiday-hating goblins to help the whole town celebrate Hanukkah.

"Before We Eat" by Pat Brisson

"A great read-aloud before any holiday meal. We're reminded of all the workers who make it possible for us to eat."
— Jessica DeLoy, The Bookies, Denver

"Babushka" by Sandra Ann Horn

"Babushka is an old Russian tale about a woman who is so busy focusing on the little things that she hardly notices the miraculous events going on around her.

"This is not only a popular story in Storybook Village, but it is a personal favorite of mine as my mother told me the story of Babushka when I was a little girl, just as she heard it from my grandmother."
— Barbara Saunders, Storybook Village, Pentwater, Mich.

Winter Delights

"Mr. Popper's Penguins" by Richard and Florence Atwater

With all the focus on visitors from the North Pole, this classic chapter book centers on some feathered friends from way down South — Antarctica, to be exact. The Popper family gets a very special delivery: a penguin. And that's only the beginning of the adventure.

"The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats

Remember the magic of the first snowfall? This book captures a child's wonder as he wanders the city on a perfect snow day. Written and illustrated by Keats, the book won a Caldecott medal back in 1963 and remains a much-loved classic.

New Favorites

"Fortunately, the Milk" by Neil Gaiman

"All Dad meant to do was get the milk. Here's what happened when he did."
— Joan Trygg, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.

Gaiman reads from his best-selling story of time travel and breakfast cereal:

Video: Bloomsbury Publishing

"The Book With No Pictures" by B.J. Novak

"Every time we read this aloud, the kids crack up! B.J. Novak's video of him reading to students has gone viral and keeps us laughing too."
— Jessica DeLoy, The Bookies, Denver

Novak's reading proves that kid's books don't need pictures:

Video: Penguin Books

What are your favorite holiday reads? Share your own holiday book traditions. We'll keep adding to the list in the comments below.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.