Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Christmastime Book Poster Image
Cozy, nostalgic look at the classic elements of the season.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Covers all the yultide vocabulary, from "stocking" and "mistletoe" to "sleigh" and "carolers," and more. 

Positive Messages

Christmas is a fun and cozy time, enjoyed by kids and families, with presents on Christmas morning.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Santa and Mrs. Claus are kind and friendly, elves are industrious, an angel makes sure the brother and sister make it home from the North Pole in time to wake up on Christmas morning and open presents. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chritsmastime is a warm, nostalgic picture book that identifies traditional elements of the Christmas season, from "mittens" and "mistletoe" to "holiday card" and "snow globe." With just one term per page or spread, parents can guide toddlers and preschoolers through the season. A parallel visual storyline shows a brother and sister making a Christmas Eve trip to the North Pole with Santa, then being brought home by an angel and opening presents on Christmas morning. Kids will expand their vocabulary and have fun spotting all sorts of little details and hints of well-known Christmas carols in the illustrations. 

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What's the story?

It's Christmas Eve and a brother and sister come down the stairs, go outside and find Santa and his reindeer. Santa invites them on his sleigh and they go back to the North Pole, where they watch elves make toys in the workshop, eat dinner with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and then are escorted back home by an angel that night, and finally open presents on Christmas morning. There are hidden clues to 17 Christmas carols to find on every page (such as a \"Little Drummer Boy\" or \"Silver Bells\"), making it an interactive treasure hunt, with a key to check against on the last page.

Is it any good?

Author-illustrator Alison Jay's gentle, nostalgic illustrations, with their cracked-glaze overlay -- have the look and feel of a classic. CHRISTMASTIME seems like a simple holiday vocabulary list at first, but other dimensions quickly emerge: the wordless story of the nighttime journey of the brother and sister, the treasure hunt to find hints of Christmas carols, and the compendium of all the different rituals and we associate with Christmas -- filling stockings, sending cards, caroling in a group, etc. It mixes common, cherished everyday activities with a fanciful journey to the North Pole, with polar bears and walruses. And the family cat and dog subtly team up in team up in many of the scenes. Spotting all the carol hints and sight gags are as fun as the charming text-free storyline.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what elements they think of when they think of Christmas in their home. What decorations that make it feel like Christmas?

  • What are you favorite Christmas stories and movies?  Do you prefer old fashioned ones or newer ones? 

  • Would you like to visit Santa at the North Pole? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

Themes & Topics

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