These kids' books bring the holiday spirit

Check out some of these holiday picture-book favorites over the break, and share them with your favorite kid or favorite kid at heart.

I'm Not Santa!

by Jonathan Allen

Hyperion Books for

Children, 2008

For ages 3-6

Baby Owl is playing in the snowy woods with his sled when Baby Hare comes along. Baby Hare is sure that Owl is Santa and declares to Owl, "You are Santa!" And because he has a nice red hat and a nice big belly, Owl has a hard time convincing Hare otherwise. Hare even mistakes Owl's sled for Santa's sleigh. Surely Owl is Santa! But when Owl denies it for the third time, Hare starts to cry. How will Owl convince Hare that he is who he says he is? It might take a visit from the real Santa himself to convince Hare that Owl is really Baby Owl.

This is another sweet story about Baby Owl and his forest friends. Allen's cartoonlike illustrations of the animals will make readers of all ages laugh out loud, especially when Baby Owl tries to make Hare stop crying. Fans of this book have many other titles to choose from, including I'm Not Ready! and I'm Not Scared!

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Texas

by Janie Bynum

Sterling Publishing, 2009

For ages 4-8

A series of letters to parents back home recounts Ashley's Christmas vacation in Texas with her cousins. On her trip, Ashley learns all about the Lone Star State. They travel from Dallas to Tyler, where they see the nation's largest rose garden, then down to Houston and the Gulf Coast, where the family visits NASA and the beach. Next, the family tours the Hill Country, including San Antonio and Austin. On their way to the Panhandle to see wind turbines, the road-trippers take a break at Big Bend National Park. Fun, colorful cartoon illustrations remind readers that there are so many amazing sights in Texas!

The back of the book has great information on Texas, making this a great introduction to the state. A list of facts, including the state flower -- bluebonnet -- and the state insect -- the monarch butterfly -- is given. There's a brief biography of famous Texans, including Sandra Day O'Connor and Howard Hughes. And the book comes with a glossary and pronunciation guide for the Spanish words used.

The Christmas Quiet Book

by Deborah Underwood; illustrations by Renata Liwska

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012

For ages 3-6

Christmas can be a loud holiday, but it can be quiet too, such as when you're searching for hidden presents or when you're bundled up so tight in winter clothes that you can hardly talk! A companion book to Underwood's The Quiet Book and The Loud Book!, this is a gentle and often funny reminder to enjoy all aspects of the holidays. For example, one page spread shows two bears teetering on a ladder trying to decorate a too-tall tree on the left, and on the right, we see a bunny picking up a shattered ornament. What a perfect reminder to children and parents alike that the holidays do not have to be perfect with decorations and trimmings, but are a time to share in the treasure we have in family and friends.

Fuzzy pencil illustrations of sweet forest friends are wonderfully reminiscent of children preparing for the holidays. Children will especially love the animals' festive decorations, and will definitely be inspired to make holiday preparations of their own.

It's Christmas!

by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Marylin Hafner

Greenwillow, 1981

For ages 6-8

Spread holiday cheer with Pelutsky's collection of 12 holiday poems. Prelutsky perfectly captures children's perspective of the holidays. In the poem Dear Santa Claus, Prelutsky writes: "I'm making my list easier and shorter than last year. I'd like a stack of comic books, a dozen apple pies, a box of chocolate brownies and an elephant that flies."

Black-and-white ink sketches with hints of red and green illustrate the poems and add a touch of whimsy to the poetry. This is a great book choice for children who may want something more than a picture book but who still yearn for lots of holiday fun.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

by Anna Dewdney

Penguin Group, 2010

For ages 3-6

Llama Llama and his mama are counting down the days until the Special Day is here! Until then, Llama Llama has a lot to do -- there are presents to buy and cookies to make and holiday decorations to create! After all the waiting and preparing, Llama Llama has had too much holiday drama. Mama consoles him, and the two decide it is time to take a break and remember the spirit of the season. Will Llama Llama have a happy holiday after all?

Dewdney's sweet and colorful illustrations will make readers of all ages want to cuddle with the ones they love -- just like Llama and Mama.