The best books that touch our heart at Christmas

Bernice L. Rocque Author Of Until the Robin Walks on Snow
By Bernice L. Rocque

Who am I?

I am someone who loves Christmas. My family’s Christmas Eve gatherings and a 5th-grade assignment inspired me to learn more about my heritage. This quest has outlived my eclectic career in libraries, teaching, and project management. In my fifties, I suddenly realized that who we are as people is forgotten within 100 years of our death. So, I started writing to preserve the ‘essence’ of those who came before me. A character from Until the Robin Walks on Snow tapped my shoulder to tell this survival story—one which embodies the love, traditions, and miracles of the holiday season. The recommended books lift hearts, too.


I wrote...

Until the Robin Walks on Snow

By Bernice L. Rocque,

Book cover of Until the Robin Walks on Snow

What is my book about?

Imagine…a child is born far too early. He weighs 1.5 pounds, a micro-preemie so small he can rest on his father’s hand. Amazingly, the tiny newborn is breathing. Now imagine… this birth is occurring 100 years ago, on the edge of winter and the Christmas season, in a New England farmhouse without electricity or running water. 

My grandparents and their midwife lived this event in 1922. As recent immigrants to America, much was uncertain for them, yet they were determined to save this child. My uncle and I like to say Until the Robin Walks on Snow recreates the story that might have happened. Facts, family history, and research form this novella’s base. Family, friendship, and faith are themes.

The books I picked & why

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The Night Before Christmas

By Clement C. Moore, Christine Brallier (illustrator),

Book cover of The Night Before Christmas

Why this book?

Fascinated and curious I was—when mosaic artist Christine Brallier introduced her rendition of The Night Before Christmas in 2013. The 15 stained glass panels she designed and pieced together over nearly 5 years became the illustrations for the timeless Clement Moore poem. 

Dazzled and speechless I was—when the book arrived. Christine Brallier’s vibrant, whimsical, and quilt-like mosaics infuse a down-home warmth into this electric poem. Her beloved cat even has a cameo spot on several pages. This unique and beautiful book continues to sit on the edge of my brain. It’s a perfect gift for families with inquisitive young children and memories to make.


Little Owl and the Star: A Christmas Story

By Mary Murphy,

Book cover of Little Owl and the Star: A Christmas Story

Why this book?

When I was little, I knew Christmas Eve was somehow more significant to our family than Christmas Day. In early evening, we would walk next door to my grandmother’s farmhouse for “Wigilia.” She greeted us with hugs and her double kisses. I remember warm light, voices conversing, and a table spread with delicious food, including fried smelts, my favorite. 

I wish I had understood better at a younger age, how Wigilia was a “vigil” of our family’s faith. Little Owl and the Star: A Christmas Story, with its endearingly simple story and gentle, yet striking illustrations, might prompt such a conversation about this. The little owl has a feeling of “waiting” and accepts an invitation from the star to witness the nativity scene.


A Dog Named Christmas

By Greg Kincaid,

Book cover of A Dog Named Christmas

Why this book?

According to Nielson ratings, 18.7 million households viewed the 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie debut of A Dog Named Christmas. It outperformed the NFL game and 60 Minutes broadcasts that Sunday evening. I was one of the movie’s ‘captives.’

The short novel equally touched my heart. I admire how the author eased in the backstories of the dog, father, mother, and son—all so crucial in the story path. Todd, an animal lover and developmentally challenged young man wants his family to participate in a program to foster a shelter dog over the holidays. Can you guess the inherent conflict? The mother’s quiet strength and influence reminded me of Mrs. Brown in the movie, National Velvet.


A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories

By Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams (illustrator),

Book cover of A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories

Why this book?

Each time the ‘Little House’ books cross my path, I am reminded of where and when I first discovered the series. My dad regularly took my sister and I to the (Otis) Children’s Library, then located atop the Church Street hill in downtown Norwich, CT. We devoured the Little House books and much of the library’s young reader collection, usually finishing the books before their due date, when Dad was happy to drive us again. 

I probably identified with the Ingalls family. Their experience in the American frontier echoed certain life patterns of my dad’s immigrant family (a half-century later). Self-sufficiency, frugality, gratitude for small blessings, and appreciation for Nature’s beauty and bounties were just a few. This “Treasury” brings together many of Laura’s wonderful Christmas memories.


The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle

By Joanne Huist Smith,

Book cover of The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle

Why this book?

The 13th Gift is a mother’s memoir of an unforgettable Christmas. Just before the holidays, her husband suddenly dies. The family is devastated and lost; he was the glue in their family of five. The numb existence that sets in isolates them from one another. Christmas seems a bother, except to the young daughter. Then, a gift mysteriously appears on their porch.

I was pulled into this family’s touching day-by-day return from the abyss, thanks to the author’s storytelling and because I was reminded how powerful an act of kindness can be—and how simple. I think this true story inspires us to do more noticing and acting, when a person or family might need the help of an “angel.”


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Christmas, dogs, and Anthrozoology?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Christmas, dogs, and Anthrozoology.

Christmas Explore 89 books about Christmas
Dogs Explore 252 books about dogs
Anthrozoology Explore 98 books about Anthrozoology

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Gift of the Magi, and Letters from Father Christmas if you like this list.