The best classic holiday songs and books, according to readers



Readers weigh

“Listening to this song is like stepping back in time.”

Opera singer Marianne Cornetti, disguised as Ms. Santa Claus, delivers gifts and songs in Pittsburgh on December 22, 2020. Steve Mellon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

We are all quite familiar with the classic lyrics made famous by Andy williams, and it continues to be true – it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

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When we asked our readers to name their favorite Christmas songs and books from their childhood, we got dozens of recommendations. Two dozen song titles poured in readers and we even made a player playlist this will surely put you in a festive mood. We also received 11 book recommendations with titles that took readers back to a shared Christmas Eve with their families, and how they carry on the tradition with their own children today.

Coming up, check out the full list of favorite holiday music and childhood books, according to readers.

Readers’ Favorite Holiday Songs ??

“My dad and I have watched ‘A Christmas Carol’ every Christmas morning for decades. Now that he’s gone, I look at him in his memory.

– Jack C. from Provincetown, Massachusetts and India

“Listening to this song is like stepping back in time. Although the events that inspired the song happened over 100 years ago now, through John’s storytelling he not only reminds you of the facts of what happened that night, but also what what it must have felt for the men who were there.

– Robert in Cohasset

“John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. When I was a kid, I loved Muppets Christmas with John Denver. This record had a LOT of playing time.

– Zach in Boston

“My mom and I both love the Carpenters. Karen Carpenter has one of the best and most distinctive voices of all time and the carpenters christmas album is wonderful and iconic.

– Greta K. in Northborough

“When I was a kid in the ’70s, Charlie Brown’s Christmas special meant the start of the Christmas season to me. The scene where Linus and Charlie Brown go looking for the pathetic tree while the sublime jazz adaptation of Vince Guaraldi “O Tannenbaum” trio playing in the background has definitely become my favorite Christmas song year after year and it has given me a great appreciation for jazz as well.

– Paul C. in Melrose

“Every Christmas year my elementary school choir performed Fred Waring’s Night Before Christmas. I liked it. It was in the fifties, and it was not only magical, but it was a sharing of tradition that I loved. This is something that has always been important to me; the fact that human beings have always, it seems, at the end of the year, found ways to brighten the long nights.

– Anabel G. in Lexington

“The song makes sense because I sing along and learned it first as Greensleeves when I was learning to play guitar. I loved the harmonies and the simplicity.

– Donna J. in Dracut

Reader’s Favorite holiday books

“My father read it to us every Christmas night near the undecorated tree (lights only and fire in the fireplace) before sending us to bed. The three of us were only allowed to sleep together on Christmas Eve laughing and continuing so mom and dad could play Santa and decorate the tree and put our presents. (It was in Delaware, SO [I was] surprised when I moved to Boston that Robert J. read it on the radio.) ”

– Deborah BB in the Jamaican Plain

“This is a lonely house mouse that becomes Santa’s helper and my brother and I asked mom to read it to read it every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. [T]here is a great sequel too.

-Paul C.

“The Adventures of K’Ton Ton: The Jewish Little Thumb” by Sadie Rose Weilerstein

“At home we celebrated Chanukah and the K’Ton Ton books have always been a part of our celebration. It was a small, modest publication, and I believe it succumbed to years of childish play with pencils and crayons. It is my deep wish that humanity learns to peacefully share our beliefs, traditions and religions. Learn that none of us know the “one truth”, that this “one truth” will never be the same for everyone. [E]each of us can find the faith and truth that heals and sustains us without insisting that it be the same for everyone.

– Anabel G. in Lexington

“The night before Christmas” by Clément Clarke Moore

“It was read to my wife and I when we were kids, and we read it to our child now.”

– Anonymous

“The book ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ was only read on Christmas Eve before going to bed when I was a child. When I got married, we also carried on this tradition with our four children before bedtime on Christmas Eve. It tells the story of what will happen after they go to bed and St. Nick’s expected visit! I love reading the story now as much as I did when I first heard the story. What a talent C. Clement Moore has to write such a beautiful story!

– Brian to Easton

“We had an annual family Christmas party where my dad would always read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ right before my uncle (dressed as Santa Claus) showed up with a bag full of gifts for everyone at the party.”

– Zach

“The Night Before Christmas was read to my brother and I every year on Christmas Eve by our father and Leonard Weisgard’s charming illustrations reminiscent of the Victorian era of the original poem really spoke to me. When I became a dad, I bought both books and read them to my daughters, keeping the tradition.

-Paul C.

“The story simply captures, in vivid detail, a single Christmas day in a child’s life and you feel like you are sharing the day with them.”

– Donna J.

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