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Holiday Picture Books for Read-Aloud: Countdown to Break. 

Let’s gear up for winter break with these 12 holiday picture books for the upper elementary classroom.

Today, we are preparing for the holiday season with a little holiday countdown created specifically for the upper elementary classroom. In our 12 days of break, we aren’t giving turtle doves, or french hens, or even lords a leaping. No sir. We are celebrating with books!

This countdown to break is all about holiday-inspired read-alouds! We have chosen 12 books that are awesome to use for this kind of special winter break countdown that spans a variety of different winter holiday traditions, including Kwanza, Christmas, and Hanukkah.

Without further ado, let’s learn a little more about these holiday picture books!

(This post features affiliate links. This means that, at no cost to you, I get commissions for purchases made through the links in this post.)

Countdown to Break: 12 Holiday Picture Books

#1 | A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Illustrated by Susan Gal 

What kind of cookies do kids on the other side of the world leave for Santa? Learn about that and so much more in this informational children’s book, A World of Cookies for Santa.

Find out more about using Cookies for Santa freebie in the upper elementary classroom.

#2 | The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel and Illustrated by Jim LaMarche 

Set during the Depression, this story is about a Christmas tree seller who gives construction workers in New York City a tree to celebrate with. In doing so, the boy is left with a warm home and a pine cone, which he plants and watches grow until one day, it becomes a warm home for another family in need.

#3 | Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and Illustrated by Jarvis 

Enjoy the process of picking and decorating the ultimate Christmas tree in this rhythmical and joyous story about family, traditions, and the little things that make the holiday season bright!

#4 | The Gingerbread House by Laura Gia West 

What is the secret to keeping Gingerbread men alive throughout the Christmas season? Well, it is a tasty secret that must be done just right. Learn more by reading The Gingerbread House!

#5 | The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Illustrated by Chris Turnham 

Is there such a thing as a wish tree? Charles believes there is. As he sets off to find the wish tree, Charles learns that sometimes wishes can come true in unexpected ways.

#6 | The Polar Express, Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg 

Take a ride on the Polar Express, where nothing is quite what it seems. When a young boy is lying awake on Christmas Eve, he is welcomed aboard The Polar Express, where he will journey to the top of the world so he can make his Christmas wish.

#7 | Meet the Latkes by Alan Silberberg (a picture book about Hanukkah)

Learn about Hanukkah traditions and history in a fun, new way with Meet the Latkes. In this silly book, Grandpa Latke is telling the family the Hanukkah story, but he’s getting the details all wrong. It is up to the family dog to make sure that they get the correct details…that is if they would actually listen!

#8 | The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Illustrated by Carson Ellis (poem in picture book form about the winter solstice) 

The Shortest Day is a poem picture book about the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the celebrations and traditions associated with this day.

#9 | Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story by Edward Hemingway 

What happens when a cookie that is supposed to be sugary and delicious isn’t delicious at all? Tough Cookie is a story about accepting who you are no matter what.

#10 | Everybody’s Tree by Barbara Joosse and Illustrated by Renée Graef

Everybody’s Tree is the story of a boy planting a seed that would become a big spruce tree. Just as the tree has grown older and bigger, so has the boy maturing into a young man, then a father, and finally a grandfather. Then, finally, as the tree is at the end of its life, the boy’s tree is chosen to be everybody’s tree.

#11 | Wintercake Written and Illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins 

Thomas needs to make his wintercake, but he seems to have misplaced some of the ingredients. Read along as Thomas, along with his friends and community, come together to save the day.

#12 | Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis and Illustrated by Daniel Minter

This book, which focuses on the 7 principles of Kwanza, is the story of 7 fighting brothers who must figure out together how to make gold out of seven spools of thread, or they will not be allowed to receive the inheritance their father has left them. This is a story about how family members can pull together to make life better for all.

Click on the links or images above to get each of these 12 holiday picture books and make a plan to use them in your classroom. Many of these books can also be used in conjunction with learning about other December holidays from around the world.

We hope you have fun and enjoy this new classroom tradition!

If you are looking for even more activities for the holiday, check out all of the holiday activities in the Fun in 5th Grade store.

For even more activities to use during the holidays, check out this blog post about a whole bunch of December holiday ideas for upper elementary!

Holiday Picture Books for Read-Aloud: Countdown to Break

More Holiday Fun

December Holiday-Themed Activities and Resources to Keep Students Engaged Until Break

Planning for the Holiday Season in your Elementary Class Made Easy

Holiday-Themed ELA Skill Review Activities You Can Use Throughout the Year

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