A Bibliography of Delightful Children’s Books for
and Described by Chris Liska Carger, Ph.D. Faculty member in the
Christmas tree, originally brought to the
For children whose background experiences do not include Christmas trees, some of the following books will help them to understand the tradition. For those well acquainted with Christmas trees, other books listed will deepen their understanding of the diverse world of private memories associated with these special trees. Some of the books describe Christmas tree growing in a way that will encourage appreciation of the benefits surrounding this crop.
Albers, Henry and Ann Kirk Davis. The Wonderful World of Christmas Trees. 1997. 100pp. Mid-Prairie Books. $19.95 (0-931209-69-2).
Middle grade students will find this comprehensive informational book useful in gathering a complete story of evergreens. It includes the history of Christmas tree traditions as well as the tree growers’ year long activities. The text presents well-researched, accurate information, which is clearly supported by carefully selected lithographs, wood engravings, copper etchings and photographs. Students could use this book for reports on various aspects of Christmas trees ranging from worldwide traditions to past and present day information on the tree growing and marketing industries. It also includes notable individuals and their special holiday trees and species of trees. It is thorough and interesting and blends the content areas of history, literature, science, business and sociology. It could serve as a core book for a thematic unit or a text set on the subject of Christmas trees.
Andersen, Hans Christian. The Fir Tree. Illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. 1970. 36pp. Harper and Row Publishers, Inc. $13.56 (73-121800)
Andersen’s classic tale of a little fir tree that hoped for more and failed to enjoy the gifts that forest life afforded him might be a springboard into decisions regarding recycling Christmas trees. Told in lilting language, the story nevertheless is a quite straightforward realistic one recounting the life and death of an evergreen. It is meant to teach a lesson, to enjoy the moment rather than long for something more. But 21st century children used to sanitized, happy endings to their tales, may need guidance to appreciate that message couched in a blatantly sad story.
Barry, Robert. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree. 1963 and 2000. 32 pp. Random House Children’s Books. $15.95 (0-385-327221-8)
Robert Barry created new illustrations for his clever narrative poem that tells the tale of a very tall Christmas tree. Several owners of their repeatedly trimmed tip of a too-tall tree, delight in their pruned acquisition. The tiniest tip ends up as a mouse family’s tree beneath the floorboards that support the huge tree of old wealthy Mr. Willowby himself.
Bunting, Eve. Night Tree. Illus. by Ted Rand. 1991. 32 pp. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $28.00 (0-15-257425-5)
minute children open Night
Tree, the muted evergreen endpapers invite them into the
nighttime forest “where the dark and quiet begin.” Luke’s
DePaola, Tomie. The Family Christmas Tree Book. 1980. 32pp. Scholastic Books. (0-590-13287-3)
In DePaola’s simple yet distinctive artistic style that is so popular, an extended family discusses the origin of Christmas tree customs. With the text in cartoon bubbles, each member contributes some knowledge or experience connected with Christmas tree traditions. There is just enough information that it does not become overwhelming for a child. Nor is it too religious to raise concerns in a school context for DePaola presents the facts historically in an appealing informational book format geared for children.
Harrington, D. Peter. Christmas Treevia. 1994. 46pp. Harrington Companies. $8.99 (TX-3-618-534)
A handy little fact book that could be useful for middle grade children looking for the origins of all sorts of Christmas customs. It is thorough and appears to have been drawn heavily from The London Ritz Book of Christmas.
Houston, Gloria. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. Illus. by Barbara Cooney. 1988. 32pp. Dial Books for Young Readers. $15.00 (0-8037-0300-7)
The year is 1918 and
Ruthie’s father is off to war. Before he left, he and his young
daughter selected the perfect Christmas tree that their family would
donate to their mountain’s community church. With strength and
determination, Ruthie and her Mama fell the tree alone despite their
disappointment that Ruthie’s dad has not returned home for
Christmas as promised. Ruthie experiences some surprises at her
church’s Christmas celebration, adorned by her family’s tree,
that will warm readers’ hearts. Barbara Cooney’s illustrations
William. How the
This easy-to-read book could supplement a science textbook to fully explain the growth cycles of a forest. Eckart’s sketches of the forest’s flora and fauna are beautifully detailed and clearly expand and support the text. Readers are taken through the three stages of a forest’s growth – pioneer, middle and final or climax stages – and can easily learn about change, growth, development, and the interdependencies in nature. They will also learn about tree species and the importance of allowing nature to take its course.
Jordan, Sandra. Christmas Tree Farm. 1993. 32pp. Orchard Books. $16.95 (0-531-05499-3)
visit to the
Kemmelman, Leslie, Dance, Sing, Remember: A Celebration of Jewish Holidays. Illus. by Ora Eitan. 2000. 36 pp. HarperCollins. $18.95 (0-06-027725-4)
brightly illustrated picture book, set on pages of different colors
with faint pictures related to each of 11 Jewish holidays, explains
celebrations and suggests related holiday activities. One holiday Tu
B’Shevat—“the new year of the trees”—is commemorated by
planting new trees in
Krahn, Fernando. The Biggest Christmas Tree on Earth. 1978. 72pp. Little, Brown and Company. (0-316-309-6)
Children are transported into a whimsical fantasy world with Krahn’s black and red pencil sketches. A little girl chases a Christmas tree ornament and is swept into a tree-trimming operation staffed by animals and insects in the hollow of a giant evergreen. Making her way to the treetop, she is swooped up by a huge eagle from the tip of the giant tree and is returned safely to her village where she invites her community to share her discovery.
Edna. The Trees of Christmas.
Illus. by A. Clayton, H. Graff, W. Witsell, and R. Lee. 1969.
is an older book still in print, and worth searching out. Ornaments
categorized mainly by country, prefaced with a picture of a
Christmas tree from that nation and information on their holiday
customs, are presented with illustrated directions for their
construction. With an adult’s guidance, ideally an art teacher,
children could create an international Christmas tree project and
experience hands-on learning of a global nature. Although many of
the trees featured are European in origin, the publishers included
an Old Testament tree of Jesse, and trees from
Monroe, Colleen. A Wish to be a Christmas Tree. Illus. by Michael Ilesn Monroe. 2000. 32pp. Sleeping Bear Press. $11.87 (1-58536-002-3)
Michael Monroe’s woodland birds and animals will easily capture young readers’ interest in yet another story of an evergreen wishing to become Christmas tree. This tree’s story is told in rhyme, which sometimes strains to present the plot. But children like narrative poetry and often appreciate rhyme and the great fir tree in this book manages to get decorated and live a long life on a tree farm.
Polacco, Patricia. Uncle Vova’s Tree. 1989. 32pp. Philomel Books. $16.99 (0-399-21617-0)
For teachers of a growing Russian and eastern European immigrant population, this Christmas storybook will be welcomed reading material. Readers unfamiliar with Russian Christmas traditions will learn of them through Polacco’s memories of Christmas spent with her Uncle Vova. Those whose Christmas traditions resonate with Uncle Vova’s household, will remember them fondly through this tender story. At the heart of the celebration are two trees, one strung with food and paper stars outside for the woodland animals and one decorated with candles, painted pysanky eggs, bells and mint hearts inside to thrill the children. Polacco’s detailed drawings with charcoal sketched faces that stand out in their simplicity complement her text to create together a rich, warm story filled with memories of a beloved family member. Sadly, readers will find at the book’s end that the Christmas they have just shared through its pages was Uncle Vova’s last. But they are given hope with his niece’s realization that his spirit lives on, remembered by his family and the woodland animals alike.
Consie. Old Dog Cora and the
Christmas Tree. 1999. 32 pp. Albert Whitman and Co. $15.95
Cora, an aging black lab, proves she is not too old to take part in her owners’ Christmas tree harvesting tradition. Her determination to help bring the large Douglas fir selected by the family back to their farmhouse helps her owner to see that she can still handle leading the pack in hauling the sled and that it is important to her. Powell’s black outlined illustrations give the impression of country woodcuts transporting readers into a cozy, northwoods setting for a glimpse of the holidays from a dog’s point of view.
Bashanti. O Christmas Tree.
Illus. by Frané Lessac. 1996. 32 pp. Boyds Mills Press. $14.95
tells a realistic story of a young boy’s disappointing attempt to
have a traditional pine tree for Christmas in his
Raschka, Chris. Little Tree. 2001. 32pp. Hyperion Books for Children. (0-7868-0795-4)
Inspired by an e.e. cummings poem of the name which starts the book, Chris Raschka creates an upbeat, happy story of a special little Christmas tree with his typically playful illustrations. The layout of the print echoes e.e. cummings’ avant garde disregard for conventional capitalization and punctuation. His primitive style printings also defy traditional layout and pop up and around Raschka’s text. This book tells the same story as Andersen’s Fir Tree but will leave young readers feeling happy as an image of the little tree joyfully hugged by a child brings the story to an end.
Repchuck, Caroline. The Snow Tree. Illus. by Josephine Martin. 1996. 24pp. Datton Children’s Books. $11.19 (0-525-45903-0)
The embossed pages and striking art work in this book make it a worthwhile picture book despite its thin storyline and stiff wording. Little Bear wonders why his world has become so colorless. Then the forest animals contribute items of color to decorate a winter evergreen. Each animal’s decorations splash vivid colors on the white raised background. It becomes clear at the end of the story, the only time readers see the tree, that an evergreen is being creatively adorned with natural “ornaments”.
Robinson, Howard. (Editorial Director) Trees of Christmas. 1988. 48pp. National Wildlife Foundation. (0-912186-92-5)
Junior high readers could handle the thoughtfully selected pieces in this Christmas gift book. The excerpt from the classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, in which Francie Nolan and her little brother literally stand up against a huge 10 ft. conifer and win the discarded tree to their parents’ and neighborhoods’ astonishment is characteristic of the high quality selections chosen for this book. Whether fiction, poetry or non-fiction, all of the collected excerpts center around the Christmas tree and feature excellent poets, commentators, and authors such as E. B. White, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings and Charles Kuralt. Photographs and drawings are integrated nicely and complement the text. The result is an informative and moving tribute to the American Christmas tree tradition.
Ross, Kathy. More Christmas Ornaments Kids Can Make, Illus. by Sharon Lane Holm. 2000. 64 pp. Millbrook Press. $24.90 (0-7613-1396-6)
The page numbers of this how-to book appear in a small evergreen tree shape. Each ornament presented hangs from a pine branch. Needed materials are shown on one side of the page and the completed ornament with clear steps can be seen on the opposite page. This book would make a perfect follow-up to Stevens’ book Christmas Trees and children could create lovely ornaments from easy-access materials without frustration. Many of the ornaments recycle common household items like marker tops, plastic bottle caps, toilet tissue tubes, toothpaste caps and old neckties. Young children will delight in transforming these ordinary objects into hand-made adornments for a classroom or home holiday tree.
Rylant, Cynthia. Children of Christmas: Stories for the Season. Illus. by S. D. Schindler. 1987. 38pp. Orchard Books. $14.95 (0-531-05706-2)
Newbery award winner Cynthia Rylant created six heartwarming, beautifully written short stories for the Christmas season. The first, entitled “The Christmas Tree Man”, tells the story of a lonely man who has spent his life operating a Christmas tree farm and looks forward to the human company he has during the tree selling season. Like her other pieces, it is superbly written with a quiet voice that wonderfully captures some little bit of the Christmas spirit. The writing is warm and moving and so lovely it could be used as a model to inspire composition in a creative writing course.
Say, Allen. Tree of Cranes. 1991. 32 pp. Houghton Mifflin Company. $12.57 (0-395-52024-X)
an afternoon of mixed emotions, a young Japanese boy wonders whether
his mother is being quiet because she is annoyed with him for
playing in the pond during winter or if there is another problem. He
learns that his mother misses the American tradition of decorating a
Christmas tree that she experienced while living in
Stevens, Kathryn. Christmas Trees. 2000. 32 pp. The Child’s World, Inc. $22.79 (1-56766-638-8)
This straightforward, non-fiction book explains the origin of the European Christmas tree tradition as well as how trees are grown, cut and shipped. Tips for selecting a tree and caring for it are also given. Illustrated with large, helpful photographs, this book could serve as a good introduction to this tradition for immigrant children or families unfamiliar with the Christmas tree tradition.
Strand, Keith. Grandfather’s Christmas Tree. Illus. by Thomas Locker. 1999. 32pp. Harcourt Brace and Company. $16.00 (0-15-201821-2).
of pine decorate the forest green endpapers and flyleaves of this
picture book illustrated beautifully with oil paintings by Thomas
Locker. A story within a story, the text relates a grandson’s
memories of his grandparents’ ranch in northern
Charlotte. The Beautiful
Christmas Tree. Illus. by Ruth Robbins. 1972. 32 pp.
by one of
For more information, contact Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association, W9833 Hogan Road, Portage, WI 53901. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 608-742-8663.