Summer is in full swing as the temperature rises and we find ourselves retreating to the beach, pool, or in some cases, an air-conditioned room indoors. While the sunshine and warm temperatures felt wonderful when they first arrived, you may now be wishing you were in a colder climate — at least for a little while. There is no better way to escape the heat of mid-July than by thinking about cooler times. Reminiscing about snowfall, sleigh rides and even a holiday gift or two is a perfect way to escape the sun and feel a little mid-year cheer. 

Through vivid illustrations, playful rhyme schemes and heartwarming stories, these six Christmas-themed children’s books will have both adults and kids in the holiday spirit — whether it’s six months or five days before Christmas.

The 12 Days of Christmas
by Debbie Curtin

There is nothing like a reimagined classic to get you in the Christmas spirit. Debbie Curtin introduces a new take on The 12 Days of Christmas with a vividly illustrated book that blends humorous images of each gift with elements of religious history. Each of the twelve gifts is coupled with a significant bible verse that connects the overall message of giving with the church and its people. With minimal text, the artistry of the images in a tongue-in-cheek manner is the main aspect of the book and will undoubtedly keep both children and adults engaged and ready to get in the holiday spirit.

Amazon | IndieBound

Tree of Cranes
by Allen Say

When a young Japanese boy spends the day playing in an ice-cold pond, he unfortunately contracts a bad cold just days before Christmas. His mother, who sympathizes with her son and desires to increase his Christmas cheer by even the smallest amount, begins decorating their Christmas tree with paper cranes and candles. Even if her son is not going to be in the highest of spirits for his first Christmas, Tree of Cranes emphasizes how the seemingly small actions can make someone feel cared for. Along with the heartwarming tale of a mother-and-son bond, the story is sure to catch the attention of both children and adults with its vivid watercolor illustrations and references to a culture that may not be as familiar to everyone.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

Slothy Christmas: A Christmas Story
by Jodie Shepherd
Illustrated by MacKenzie Haley 

It’s a large feat to deliver presents to children all over the world in one night, and an even bigger one when Santa Claus is a sloth. When this notoriously slow animal is in charge of getting each and every child their present before Christmas morning, it is no surprise to find that many children wake up to an empty Christmas tree. While it feels like Christmas is ruined at the moment, the lack of gifts allows each family to take time to acknowledge what is truly important about the holiday season — having everyone home together. That’s not to say that the children will not get their presents eventually, but at Slothy Claus’s pace, they better plan on celebrating Christmas in July.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

5 More Sleeps ‘til Christmas
by Jimmy Fallon
Illustrated by Rich Deas

The anticipation felt in the week leading up to Christmas is unmatched and perfectly encompassed in the humor of Jimmy Fallon’s 5 More Sleeps ‘til Christmas. Written in a countdown format specifically designed to be read aloud, the story showcases how the initial excitement of five days before Christmas is incomparable to the feeling of falling asleep on Christmas Eve. With vivid illustrations and endless details centered around the glee of Christmastime, it will have both children and adults getting into the holiday spirit whether it is five days or six months before Christmas Day.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

Little Red Sleigh
by Erin Guendelsberger
Illustrated by Elizaveta Tretyakova

Dream big, even when you are small: that’s the message behind Erin Guendelsberger’s Little Red Sleigh. Despite being barely large enough to carry a child down a snowy hill, this little red sleigh has dreams of one day becoming Santa’s sleigh. The many obstacles she is facing, including her size, young age, and the fact that she cannot fly, are nowhere near enough to hinder her ambition. With the help of some friends, and of course the addition of some Christmas magic, the little red sleigh works toward her goal of being the most important sleigh in the world, and reminds everyone that there is no dream too big when you put your mind to it.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Red and Lulu
by Matt Tavares

Bird best-friends Red and Lulu have called one of their local evergreens home for many years. Living in this tree has many perks, including the shade it provides in the hot months, the warmth it gives off in the cold months and the beautiful string of lights it holds every year around Christmas. Living in this tree has always been perfect for Red and Lulu; that is until one day they are mysteriously separated. It’s going to take nothing short of a trip to New York City, the power of a strong friendship and a Christmas miracle to bring the two birds back together in their prized tree.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

The Nutcracker in Harlem
by T.E. McMorrow
Illustrated by James Ransome

It is the height of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City, and one little girl is hoping to find her unique voice among the many talented artists. Lucky for her, she has the help of a magical toy that accompanies her along her many adventures across the city. This jazz-inspired reinvention of a classic includes the perfect blend of elements between the infamous The Nutcracker and the cultural significance of the Harlem Renaissance. The Nutcracker in Harlem is illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator James Ransome, who also illustrated Overground Railroad, which Booktrib reviewed here.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop