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december books 2nd grade

Favorite 2nd Grade Books to Read in December

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Hello to my favorite teacher friends!! Winter is almost here; well, almost… except in Florida #ifyouknowyouknow You guys know I love sharing my favorite books for the classroom, so of course I’ve got some must-reads for December for you!

must read holiday books for 2nd grade

It’s the perfect opportunity to weave in some pretty wonderful books for those 2nd graders! So, here’s my go-to list of 15 of my favorite books, perfect for December in your classroom!

15 Must Read Books for December

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I know you’re busy, so if you just want to check out the books, click the quick links below!

1. Olive the Other Reindeer 2. Zetta the Pointsettia 3. The Wish Tree 4. A World of Cookies for Santa 5. The Gingerbread Girl 6. The Polar Express 7. The Crayons’ Christmas 8. Horrible Harry and the Holidaze 9. Little Red Sleigh 10. Twas the Night Before Christmas 11. Walk This World at Christmastime 12. How the Grinch Stole Christmas 13. Lights of Winter 14. Pick a Pine Tree 15. Christmas is Canceled!

Please note that these are just a few of my class’s favorite books, but they are a great place to start! I suggest working to find windows and mirrors for the students in your classroom!

1. Olive, the Other Reindeer  

Summary: Olive, the cutest dog ever, realizes she’s had it wrong all along and is actually a… reindeer! So, she heads to the North Pole to fulfill her reindeer destiny. It is quite the adventure for the little pup Olive, but would you believe she winds up saving Christmas?!

Why it’s a must: A whimsical story, engaging illustrations, literature elements galore, and the oh-so-adorable Olive make this the perfect book for December! Plus, here’s a week worth of reading and writing lesson plans already done for you! Saving you time!

Perfect for: K-4th grade

2. The Gingerbread Girl

Summary: Gingerbread Girl’s brother may have met his cookie demise, but Gingerbread Girl has a clever plan to beat the gingerbread odds and change her destiny!  

Why it’s a must: Fun rhymes, colorful pictures, and girl power make this book a must for your classroom. Your students will love how sassy this little cookie is! It’s also a great way for all of your students to learn about story structure and verbs like we did here. (See the entire Gingerbread thematic unit here!)

Perfect for: K-3rd


3. The Wish Tree 

Summary: Charles goes on a wintery search, complete with sled and song, for a Wish Tree! Along the way, he helps out many animal friends, and they in turn lead him to the tree!

Why it’s a must: This is such a powerful little winter tale about the power of giving and friendship, which will open up a great opportunity to help your class learn about what – or, who! – matters most this season.

Perfect for: 1st & 2nd grades

4. Horrible Harry and the Holidaze

Summary: You know I love me some Horrible Harry. Now we find Harry and his classmates in 3B learning about the different ways people celebrate the season. From Christmas to Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa to the Korean New Year, plus more, this story has it ALL! But Harry is not exactly “feeling” all the festivity, so it’s time to figure out what’s bothering Harry this time!

Why it’s a must: Hands down, this is the PERFECT diverse read for December! Your students will love reading about Harry getting up to his usually horrible tricks.

Perfect for: 2nd through 4th grades

5. Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations Around the World

lights of winter december read aloud

Summary: A delightful picture book about winter celebrations from around the world… Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Solstice, Hanukkah, and more!

Why it’s a must: This one is great for a read aloud in front of the class because of the picture style of the book, as well as the lessons and conversation about other celebrations and cultures that it will foster! Perfect addition to your Holidays around the World unit!

Perfect for: Preschool up to 2nd grade

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Summary: The sneaky old Grinch tries to steal Christmas from the Whos, but one little Who’s bravery and love save not only Christmas but also the Grinch himself!

Why it’s a must: Is it even the holiday season without this Grinchy tale? The lesson learned in this book is a big one a great for teaching about moral of story!

Perfect for: K through 4th

7. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Summary: This is the beloved and timeless poem told in book form. Just like the Grinch above, this is another one we all group with. Thinking about that night before the big day and all of its magic!

Why it’s a must: This is a story that really helps children to picture themselves in the same moments and emotions as in the poem…all the excitement, all the anticipation, all the wonder! Another great intro to poetry and also to using strong words in writing.

Perfect for: 1st & 2nd grades

8. The Polar Express

Summary: A young boy who doesn’t believe in Santa hops aboard The Polar Express, thus embarking on a sweeping and whimsical adventure to the North Pole. Will he be made a believer in the end?

Why it’s a must: We all love the movie, but this is the book it was created from! Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1986, The Polar Express has since sold over 7 million copies. Needless to say, it’s a favorite this time of year and your kids will be swept up in all of the magic and wonder of this beautifully illustrated book!!

Pair it with this hot chocolate writing activity and craft for a total #teacherwin!

Perfect for: 1st to 3rd grades

9. The Little Red Sleigh 

little red sleigh december read aloud

Summary: You’ve heard of the little engine that could… well, meet the little red sleigh that could! This sleigh has a big dream of becoming Santa’s own big red sleigh someday! But all her life, she’s been told the odds are stacked against her and it will never happen. Now, with the help of friends, the little red sleigh is determined to make her dream come true!

Why it’s a must: This is such a heartwarming read about believing in ourselves, overcoming the odds, and the magic of Christmas! It’s a really great way to teach your students that they can do anything if they put their mind and their heart to it.

Perfect for: 1st through 3rd grades

10. Walk This World at Christmastime  

Summary: Travel to a new continent or country on each page and learn about their unique Christmas traditions!

Why it’s a must: The illustrations!!! They are so vivid and colorful. This is a really great one for a read-aloud with the whole class because of the bright colors and hidden info flap-ups (My son’s favorite part!). Plus, you’ll love all the diversity this book brings to your classroom! The perfect way to provide mirrors and windows for students in your classroom this holiday season.

Perfect for: K through 3rd

11. A World of Cookies for Santa 

Summary:  Go on a Christmas Eve foodie tour of the world to see all of the food that is left out for Santa (aka Father Christmas, aka Père Noël, and so on…) in different countries around the world on that oh-so- special night.

Why it’s a must: Winner of the American Book Fest Best Book Award and the Moonbeam Book Award, this colorful and fun book is a multicultural celebration that will foster lessons in diversity, inclusion, and appreciation for and understanding of other cultures and traditions.

Perfect for: K through 3rd grade

12. Pick a Pine Tree 

Summary: This read aloud follows one family on their search for the perfect Christmas tree and bringing it home to decorate as readers learn about different family traditions.

Why it’s a must: This was such a gem of a find! The pencil, chalk, paint, and digitally colored paintings are reasons enough that this book makes the list, not to mention all the holiday warmth and joy the story brings. It will be a great way for your students to learn about what different families do to celebrate the season!

Perfect for: K indergarten to 2nd grade

13. Zetta the Poinsettia

Why it’s a must:  Recipient of a 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Inspirational Fiction, this is truly a story full of hope…and beautiful illustrations! It will be a great rubric to use to help your students get in touch with their dreams and the truth that they can be anything they choose! It’s a self-esteem booster for sure! Oh, and #protip, it’s free on Kindle Unlimited right now.

Perfect for: Preschool through 2nd grade

14. The Crayons Christmas 

Summary: Follow Duncan and the other crayons as they write their holiday wishlists and get their Christmas decorations out!

Why it’s a must: A fun extension of the crayons books! The crayons really come to life in such a fun and colorful way, with so many clever and funny pages and antics too. Plus, the pop outs and games will help your students practice letters in such a unique way that they won’t even realize they’re learning!

Perfect for: Preschool through 2nd grade

15. Tick and Legs: Christmas is Cancelled

christmas is cancelled

Summary: Oh no! Christmas is canceled…so are ALL the holidays!! Tick and Legs, a hilarious duo, learn to celebrate despite it all and it makes for quite a hopeful story. They learn that sometimes, despite how hard we try or may want it, we can feel disappointed about results or a situation…. about things just not looking the same.

Why it’s a must: 2020. Need I say more?? If this book doesn’t sound like our year, I don’t know about does! This book is an AMAZING way to support your students through their feelings as they navigate what might be a very different looking and feeling holiday season for them and their families!

Perfect for: K through 3rd grade

From sleighs to lights, from food to Santa, from trees to holidays around the world…. and everything in between, that’s my go-to list of 15 of my must-read books perfect for December in your classroom!

Have you used any of them with your kiddos? Or, do you have another favorite read aloud? Let me know in the comments!

More Ideas for Your Holiday Classroom

Cinnamon Ornaments for the classroom- love this idea of making those yummy smelling cinnamon ornaments with your class. The recipe she shares is classroom friendly and does not require baking. The kids even decorated the ornaments with puffy paint! Perfect craft for the holidays.

Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!


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