2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Christmas and Other Winter Holiday Children’s Book Recommendations–2023

Christmas and Other Winter Holiday Children’s Book Recommendations–2023 are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

Children’s book titles are carefully handpicked by a certified elementary school librarian who, although retired, still enjoys reading children’s books, especially picture books, and recommending them to busy teachers, school librarians, parents, grandparents, and other book lovers.

Most of the books Mrs. Ferraris reads before recommending are checked out from the public library, except for those much-appreciated complimentary copies sent to her for an honest review. Those are noted. 

The content below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, she may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

A brother and sister with large smiles are at a table full of Italian Christmas food with presents and Christmas decorations in the background

Our Italian Christmas Eve 

by Danielle Sedita (Author), Francesco Sedita (Author), Luciano Lozano (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Viking Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-4
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0593621867

Brief summary: Danielle and Francesco tell how their family celebrates the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve at their Aunt Babe’s, where there is a house full of relatives and food. The two realize they must make cheesecake to have enough desserts for the feast.

Comments: What an incredible celebratory story with detailed and humorous illustrations

I was getting hungry reading this book, wanting to taste all these yummy Italian foods.

Rating: 4/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Otto the Christmas ornament is smiling as he hangs from a Christmas tree

Otto The Ornament 

by Troy Cummings (Author)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Random House Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0593481208

Brief summary: Christmas ornament, Otto believes he is too shiny and unique to be in the middle of the tree and looks for one where he can be on the top. Will he realize where he perfectly fits in?

Comments: I knew I would like this book when I saw that the C.I.P. is shaped like a Christmas tree.

Troy Cummings visited our school district and did a superb job! His patience with our students and presentations were top-notch.

Rating: 4.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

The pages is one side upside down with one child in New Zealand handing the other  who live in New York, a dreidel.

Hanukkah Upside Down 

by Elissa Brent Weissman (Author), Omer Hoffmann (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Harry N. Abrams
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: Prek-3
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 1419762966

Brief summary: Noah lives in New York, where it is winter, while his cousin Nora lives in New Zealand, where it is summer. They challenge one another to see who can have the best eight days of Hanukkah.

Comments: Young readers will have Hanukkah vocabulary and learn how people far away from one another can celebrate the same holiday in their own unique traditions.

Rating: 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

The blue pigeon is wearing a Christmas hat with a bell next tot he title of the book.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh! 

by Mo Willems (Author)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Union Square Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 1454952776

Brief summary: As soon as Santa leaves, Pigeon wants to drive the sleigh, trying to persuade us how it would be a great idea.

Comments: This is done in the humorous pigeon series style of trying to get the reader to agree with the pigeon’s idea.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

The snowmen and snow creatures are outside putting up Christmas lights.

Snowmen’s Twelve Nights of Christmas 

by Caralyn Buehner (Author), Mark Buehner (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Dial Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0593624726

Brief summary: A dog chases different creatures up a pine tree for twelve nights before Christmas in this Twelve Days Of Christmas Carol parody.

Comments: This cumulative story has bright and happy illustrations that any little one would love to have read to them several times.

This husband and wife duo has other Snowmen-themed books such as Snowmen at Night, Snowmen at Play, and Snowmen at Christmas.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl with her black and white kitten is standing in front of the Christmas tree with her family members in the background all smiling.

The Twelve Hours of Christmas 

by Jenn Bailey (Author), Bea Jackson (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 10, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0316330973

Brief summary: This Twelve Days of Christmas Carol parody is about a large family gathering twelve hours before Christmas.

Comments: This is a lovely picture book of a family with a nana and grandpa, cousins, aunties, and uncles visiting to celebrate the holiday together.

I was looking forward to each hour to see what would happen next.

The illustrations convey the happiness and love of the family. Be sure to spot the hidden kitten throughout the picture book.

Rating: 4/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Three kings are flying in the air while riding camels as a little girl looks outside her window.

La Noche Before Three Kings Day 

by Sheila Colรณn-Bagley (Author), Alejandro Mesa (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž HarperCollins
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover โ€ picture book: โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0063234327

Brief summary: A family celebrates Three Kings Day by decorating shoeboxes, having a large family meal, and dancing to music. The extended family goes home, and the children go to bed. The little girl peeks out of her window at midnight and sees the three kings with camels fill their boxes left by the door with gifts, candy, and coins.

Comments: This book is sprinkled with Spanish words, so I was thankful for the pronunciation box and glossary. The illustrations are festive and bright. The author does explain in the back of the book how she celebrates Three Kings Day on January 6th.

Rating: 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A little mouse with huge ears is playing a drum while underneath a Christmas tree with a lot of red and green gifts.

A Creature Was Stirring 

by Heather S. Pierczynski (Author), Skylar Hogan (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Katherine Tegen Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover โ€ picture book : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0063230747

Brief summary: A mouse debunks the T’was the Night Before Christmas poem’s line of “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” by being too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve and full of endless energy.

Comments: This book contains onomatopoeias throughout the mouse’s wide-awake activities. The illustrations are warm and inviting.

Rating: 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Santa Claus is standing on a roof looking at a chimney.

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? 

by Mac Barnett (Author), Jon Klassen (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Candlewick
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover โ€ picture book: โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 153622376X

Brief summary: Hilariously inventive ideas of how Santa Claus goes down the chimney are explored in this picture book.

Comments: 

Hilariously inventive ideas of how Santa Claus goes down the chimney are explored in this picture book.

Comments:  Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have come up with another creative book together that children will love reading. They are in sync with how children think.

Rating: 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A Christmas cactus is underneath ornaments hanging from the ceiling. The cover is pink.

The Christmassy Cactus 

by Beth Ferry (Author), A. N. Kang (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž HarperCollins
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover โ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0063039648

Brief summary: Tiny Cactus was loved by a little girl every day. The child shared all the beautiful Christmas decorations but soon forgot about Tiny Cactus. The plant truly wanted to belong and celebrate with the family but couldn’t figure out how until something magical happened Christmas morning.

Comments: Such a darling and precious story. I’ll never look at a Christmas Cactus the same way again.

This book is illustrated with Christmas colors and a pink hue throughout.

Rating: 4/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A large 10 looks like peppermint candy with Santa and the reindeer carrying Christmas gifts.

10 Things I Love About Christmas 

by Danielle McLean (Author), Mark Chambers (Illustrator)

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Tiger Tales
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-4
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 24 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 1680102958

Brief summary: A young boy shares everything he loves about Christmas, from opening his advent calendar each day, decorating the Christmas Tree, to many events and traditions he shares with his family.

Comments: This would be a good read-aloud and discussion afterward about what they like about Christmas.

The illustrations are detailed. I found myself stopping and looking at them before continuing with the countdown.

Rating: 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Emotions, High Concepts, or Other Abstract Ideas–Picture Book Recommendations

Emotions, high concepts, or other abstract ideas picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.* All books were checked out from the public library and not sent to me for a review.

Child express the love emotions by making her hands into a heart shape

All About Nothing (All About Noticing) 

by Elizabeth Rusch (Author), Elizabeth Goss (Illustrator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Charlesbridge. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1623543525.

Brief summary: Nothing can be so many things around us. Negative space. Nothing can also be something. Young readers will see that nothing can be where ideas come from or just something relaxing. It is all around us.

Two back sections are About Negative Space and More About Nothing.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Children laying on the grass looking up to the sky wondering what their future could be; happy emotions on their faces

Someday, Maybe 

by Diana Murray (Author), Jessica Gibson (Illustrator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Henry Holt and Co. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1250782755.

Brief summary: Children daydream about what future jobs they will have, inventions they will create, and lives they will have when they grow up.

The back pages talk about some future possibilities.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A large bear in a tree looking up to the leaves while exploring his emotions of wanting to be alone

Bear Is Never Alone 

by Marc Veerkamp (Author), Jeska Verstegen (Illustrator), Laura Watkinson (Translator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0802856036.

Brief summary: Bear plays the piano in the forest and comes to his last song, ready for a break. The animals around him start to shout for him to play more. He just wants to be alone, but the animals chase him, demanding for Bear to play more. Will Bear ever be alone?

Rating 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A snake coming out of a red high top sneaker

Twenty Questions 

by Mac Barnett (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Candlewick. 2023 PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1536215137.

Brief summary: There are many questions with many types of answers. Some questions have a simple solution, while others have a profound explanation. Some questions have no one exact answer or even an answer at all. Some may come with emotions.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Girl in a hospital bed with her brother beside her who  is holding a blue balloon

The Hospital Book 

by Lisa Brown (Author).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Neal Porter Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1536215137.

Brief summary: A young girl has a terrible stomachache and must go to the hospital. She shares the nine times she cried as young readers go along with her to the emergency room, her diagnosis, surgery, recovery, and back home. This story is in an honest and light tone that young readers will find reassuring.

Each page contains detailed illustrations that had me stop and explore the many two-page spreads. Traditional text and speech bubbles.

A definite read for young readers to understand and be calmly assured what could happen when going to a hospital in an emergency situation and the emotions they could feel.

The back page includes A Note From the Author.

Rating: 5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

I’m so glad to see another picture book from this author that she both wrote and illustrated! The illustrations and storytelling are done in a way relatable to little ones with humor and action. I also recommend another one of the picture books that she wrote and illustrated that features this family–The Airport Book

A boy sitting at his desk at school reading while releasing his emotions by tap dancing under the desk

Stanley’s Secret 

by John Sullivan (Author), Zach Manbeck (Illustrator).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1534487833.  

Brief summary: Stanley is a shy and quiet boy. He helped the janitor and would tap dance as he swept. One day the principal saw him and encouraged the boy to sign up for the talent show where he could share his gift with others. Will Stanley be able to get over his shyness? 

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Tow girls playing in the rain with their dog with happy emotions

Sometimes: A Day Full of Feelings 

by Stephanie Stansbie (Author), Elisa Paganelli (Illustrator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Crown Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0593568910.

Brief summary: A brother and sister experience everyday feelings that come and go. They learn to recognize their feelings in different situations, realize that another one will come along, and learn how to move through that one too. Emotions are everyday occurrences.

There is a back page of encouragement to help young readers to get through more difficult feelings.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A boy looking out of a yellow school bus with optimistic emotions

The Bright Side 

by Chad Otis (Author, Illustrator).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Rocky Pond Books. 2023. Grades 1-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0593530627.

Brief summary: A boy shares that his family lives in an old school bus until they get a house again. It was hard to leave his friends. His parents encourage him to look on the bright side of things. He gets to take showers outside. Have pizza toast with bread and ketchup. He learns to use his imagination to create something he does not have.

He is nervous about attending a school where everyone knows each other and the routine. Will he learn how to fit in with everyone else?

The author shares that he did live on a school bus for four years and did not go to school until he was in third grade. I thank him for sharing his story of houselessness.

This book could be shared to help others understand those in poverty and, hopefully, develop empathy and understanding. Written in a way that a child could understand.

Rating: 4/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Children at a picnic

The ABCs of Inclusion: A Disability Inclusion Book for Kids 

by Beth Leipholtz (Author), Anastasiya Kanavaliuk (Illustrator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Wise Ink Creative Publishing. 2023. Grades 2-4. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1634895965.

Brief summary: Young readers will learn about twenty-six children, each with different diagnoses, and a brief explanation to help understand it a bit better.

I would love to see this book read to all of the students at the beginning of the year in a way to show that we all have things similar and different from one another. We can learn about how to interact with one another and even become friends.

Rating: 3.5/4 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl playing on the beach by herself making a castle

Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone 

by Amy Hest (Author), Philip C. Stead (Illustrator).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Neal Porter Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0823449477.

Brief summary: A young girl enjoys time being alone but can also enjoy a friend’s company. She can sit in solitude eating a cookie but finds it pleasant when a friend visits and eats a cookie with her.

This comforting book made being alone (not lonely) enjoyable. Having a friend visit was not nerve-racking but a time to share and enjoy the company.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

children wearing the same clothing as the background wall

Wallflowers 

by Mackenzie Joy (Author, Illustrator)

.Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Clarion Books. 2023. PreK -2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0358726463.

Brief summary: Shy and quiet children who would rather observe and not be in the spotlight are given encouragement to be themselves. They may like to be heard at times, but not in an extroverted way.

This book celebrates introverts and does not try to change them from being wallflowers but instead bloom with their emotions.

The illustrations are drawn with them looking like the background.

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl at the beach with her mother and dog

Billie and Bean at the Beach (Billie and Bean, 1) 

by Julia Hansson (Author), B.J. Woodstein (Translator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Orca Book Publishers. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1459834415.

Brief summary: Billie and her dog, Bean, go to the beach. Bean enjoys running around and playing in the sand, while Billie just wants to rest in the umbrella’s shade. Her mother encourages Billie to take a swim, and the girl is stung. After her mother comforts and calms Billie’s emotions, the little girl decides to try the water again with the help of a gift Bean has dug up. The girl enjoys the underwater silence and fish. Billie dives towards the bottom and finds something shiny that makes her resilience worth returning to the sea.

Will we find out what it is in a sequel? What an excellent discussion to have with the class.

This is a Swedish translation.

Rating: 4/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Sad girl out on the lake in a small boat with a face of sad emotions

Mouseboat 

by Larissa Theule (Author), Abigail Halpin (Illustrator). Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Viking Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0593327357.

Brief summary: A girl who has recently lost her mother goes on a trip to their lake house with her father. She misses her mother but can not find a connection until she takes out the mouse boat she and her mother built together. She can face her emotions.

The illustrator caught the facial expressions of a mourning girl and the sad tone in the house of grief with cool and darker colors. Well done.

I could follow the storyline with or without the text, which is an excellent picture book to me. I’d like to see more picture books with this duo. They complement each other well.

Rating: 5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Boys at the beach

The Noise Inside Boys: A Story About Big Feelings 

by Pete Oswald (Author).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Random House Studio. 2023. PreK -2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-0593483220.

Brief summary: Brothers yell how they feel while playing outside on the beach. One boy is encouraged by his father to take a moment and experience the feeling and name it. Be aware of your emotions and name them to understand them. He is told that a feeling will come and go. 

Rating: 3/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Various families depicted on the cover with many emotions

You Are Loved: A Book About Families 

by Margaret O’Hair (Author), Sofia Sanchez (Author), Sofia Cardoso (Illustrator).Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Scholastic Inc. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book.ISBN-13 โ€ : โ€Ž 978-1338850079. Paperback picture book is available too.

Brief summary: Young readers are talked to by Sofia Sanchez, who explains that a child is loved by many people but most of all by one’s family. There are many different types of families. Sometimes a family is not perfect. There are arguments, sadness, anger, and other emotions. But a family makes up and continues loving one another.

This is an optimistic book with brightly colored illustrations of all cultures, ages, races, etc. Readers will be able to see and understand that there are families unlike theirs but still have shared love for one another.

Rating: 3.5/5 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).