It’s the month of December, and with that comes a LOT of excitement, Christmas spirit, and the need to pull out our favorite December read-alouds to keep students engaged! Don’t worry, I’ve got just the list of books for you to ensure you’re bringing the holiday spirit while also thinking about exposure to different genres, mixing up different story plots, and spiraling in different reading skills.
Let’s dive into different picture books that keep kids excited about reading this time of year until winter break. It sometimes feels like we need a miracle to keep them hanging on, but I promise you, these books will do the trick!
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Favorite December Read-Alouds
“Gingerbread Man Loose in the School” by Laura Murray is first on the list of December read-alouds. This is a wonderful book with a hilarious spin on the classic gingerbread man story. I love that it is about students who created him and his adventures trying to find them throughout their school.
This will have your kids engaged and laughing so hard the entire story. This text is also a fun way to spiral sequence and chronological order practice with your students.
“Olive, the Other Reindeer” by Vivian Walsh is another hysterical, uplifting, and fun story about a dog who thinks she is one of Santa’s reindeer. Once Olive arrives at the North Pole, the other reindeer wonder why Olive is there, after all, she is a dog. It turns out that Olive is extremely helpful and that Santa and his crew actually need her. This book teaches great lessons about how everyone has something to offer, and that accepting others is a very important thing to do. This text lends itself naturally to teaching the skills of inferencing and making predictions.
Be intentional about stopping and talking often when reading this book to your students. Make sure to add it to your list of December read-alouds.
“Little Red Sleigh” by Erin Guendelsberger is a heartwarming story about a little red sleigh who has a gigantic dream of becoming Santa’s big red sleigh. Despite being told her entire life that she is too small, too young, and not capable, she is determined to meet Santa Claus. This sweet story is full of so much joy, encouragement, and Christmas magic. It teaches a great lesson about how being ourselves is good enough, and that we can truly do whatever we put our minds to.
This book falls under the favorite December read-alouds because it also offers ample opportunity to teach vocabulary with words like rickety, treacherous, gradually, vast, and nestled.
“Sneezy the Snowman” by Maureen Wright is a light-hearted text that has all students feeling like they can connect and relate. This silly snowman despises the cold and keeps doing things to warm himself up. He drinks hot cocoa, sits in a hot tub, and warms up by the fire. But what happens when snow is mixed with warmth? You can imagine his frustration.
This book is a great way to have your students use inferencing and problem-solving skills throughout the story, all while reviewing rhyme and rhythm in poetry. Don’t skip out on this one in December when selecting your next read-aloud.
“The Legend of the Poinsettia” by Tomie dePaola is a classroom staple in my room each year. Full of culture and miracles, this is a great story about giving. The main character, Lucida, is upset when she arrives at San Gabriel without something to give. She learns that the simple gift that she did not think would be good enough turns out to be the most wonderful gift of all.
This book can be used to teach important skills such as vocabulary, summarizing, and reading comprehension. I promise this text will become your favorite read-aloud each holiday season.
“Everybody’s Tree” by Barbara Joosse is the perfect book to spiral into your poetry practice this Christmas season. There is a ton of great figurative language throughout the text as well as opportunities for making predictions and connections. This cute story takes place over a span of 80 years and is about a spruce tree and the boy who chooses it at a tree farm. This story highlights the character change that both the boy and the tree undergo, and how one’s journey can bring joy and celebration to everybody.
This is such a good book to use this season and will leave your students’ hearts feeling full and inspired. Be sure to add this one to your read-aloud list this December.
7. The Mitten
“The Mitten” retold by Jan Brett is a folktale about a little boy who has dropped his white mitten in the snow. As the mitten lay in the snow, one by one animals found it and crawled in. The animals in the story were kind to one another and allowed others to join in the mitten to keep warm without pushing anyone else out.
This is a great read, and it is the perfect opportunity for teaching common story themes such as kindness and friendship. It is a must on the December read-alouds list.
“The Story of Snow” by Jon Nelson Ph.D is a nonfiction book that will answer student’s questions about all things snow. It is packed with snow-related facts such as the process of ice crystals forming and the reason why no two snowflakes are alike. So interesting, right?
Great for teaching nonfiction text features, this book also has intriguing photos and diagrams that will pull your readers in. Adding this to your December read-alouds is great because you are ensuring that all of your nonfiction lovers will have a book for them too.
“The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg is a great book and another classroom classic. This is a sweet little story about the spirit of Christmas and the importance of believing. Chris Van Allsburg fills this book with beautiful illustrations and a storyline that keeps students’ ears perked up throughout the entire read-aloud.
This descriptive story is full of opportunities for teaching visualizing, inferencing, and the author’s purpose. Elementary students of all ages will love this one, so make sure it is on your December read-alouds list!
If you’re looking for ideas to help your students respond to reading, I’ve got a list of ideas for you. All of these resources are created to be used with any text and to support students in grades 3rd-5th, so it would be fitting to use these with any read-aloud mentioned above.
1. Reading Choice Boards: This resource is perfect for differentiation in your classroom while spiraling multiple reading skills from any text.
2. Interactive Notebook Reading Responses: An interactive way to have your students respond in their journals to any read-aloud you are doing.
3. Graphic Organizers: These are ideal for supporting reading comprehension while keeping your kids engaged with something hands-on.
4. Reading Sentence Stems: Want your students to write about their reading? These are great for helping your students get started.
5. Reading Response Question Rings: These are great to have made and on hand throughout any class read-aloud and help guide the teacher with various questioning prompts throughout the text.
All of these amazing books can fit seamlessly into your lesson plans this December while providing opportunities to teach important reading skills. Whether it be theme, inferencing, predicting, or vocabulary, you can feel confident knowing you’re bringing in engaging read-alouds and different genres, and still hitting all of those critical skills with holiday cheer. I hope that you’ve found inspiration for these spirited stories and that they continue to foster a love for reading in your students well beyond the holiday season!
Additional December Activities You May Love!
Christmas Writing Choice Boards: Engage students in several types of writing like procedural/how-to, persuasive/opinion, narrative, imaginative, expository, and more by way of easy-to-use choice boards! Comes with fun Christmas writing paper templates, too!
Christmas Around the World Literacy Activities: Explore a handful of countries around the world and learn how they celebrate Christmas. This is wonderful to have students learn new customs, traditions, and cultural symbols that exist in other locations. Nonfiction reading, comprehension questions, and writing prompts are included!
Kwanzaa Literacy Activities: This is a popular celebration in the African culture and students will be eager to learn all about it! They will learn customs and traditions along with vocabulary specific to Kwanzaa! Nonfiction reading, comprehension questions, and writing prompts are included!
December Writing Prompts: Focus on creative writing by way of National Days. Different types of writing are spiraled throughout the month to give your students exposure and practice. Student choice is at the core of this resource so it gets student buy-in easily!
New Year Flipbook: This is a purposeful writing reflection activity that focuses on the current or past year (depending on when you begin this) and the new year ahead! This resource is updated each year so you will be provided a great back-to-school activity when students return from break!
I hope your December is filled with incredible reading and writing! I would love to know some of your favorite December reads, so leave a comment below.
Keep diving into literacy!