Jingle Bells

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Jingle Bells Book Poster Image
Pretty art, wordless ride are fun backdrop to famous carol.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Includes the first verse and chorus of the popular carol "Jingle Bells." Shows lots of forest and barnyard animals and identifies 10 "winter animals" at the back, suggesting readers make sure they find them all tucked into the art.

Positive Messages

"Oh, what fun to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight." "Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The kids are self-reliant and kindly bring a gift to Grandma. Grandma is warm, welcoming, and fun-loving. Santa is so kind and friendly he hangs around for an ice skating outing!

Violence & Scariness

The sleigh crashes in the snow but no one's hurt.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Susan Jeffers' Jingle Bells sets the lyrics to the familiar Christmas carol against a visually told story of a boy, girl, and dog and their bumpy sleigh ride to Grandma's house. There's mild tension when the dog gets lost in the snow and has numerous encounters with woodland animals before the kids and dog are reunited at Grandma's -- with surprise guest Santa. Back matter identifies 10 of the realistically drawn critters featured in the story and asks, "Did you find all these winter animals?" 

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What's the story?

The lyrics to JINGLE BELLS float over a snowy landscape and a wordless adventure in which a young boy and girl and their little white dog start off on a sleigh ride and hit a bump, and the dog takes off on an adventure with a variety of of winter woodland creatures. Eventually the kids and pooch reunite at Grandma's house -- with Santa himself! They open gifts while he's still there, and then they all head to a frozen pond for ice skating and hockey, surrounded by local animals.

Is it any good?

The snowy art and realistically rendered animals make this mostly wordless tale fun and engaging. The carol's lyrics provide a nice thread but are almost beside the point. The action and humor are in the pictures that tell the kids' and dog's story. A charming addition to the holiday bookshelf.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the animals and bird shown in Jingle Bells. Which ones could you name? Which ones were new to you?

  • How do you think the words of the Christmas carol "Jingle Bells" mix with the story of the kids and their dog getting separated in the snow? Will you think of their story the next time you hear the song? 

  • How did you like the twist at the end with Santa?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

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