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Children's books light up the holidays

By Stephanie Snipes

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(CNN) -- With the television as the center of just about every American living room, it may be natural to think about holiday entertainment as Claymation Christmas specials and holiday cartoons.

But if you're interested in sharing or starting a literary Christmas tradition with your pre-school or elementary school children, a slew of new books offer plenty of options.

From Berenstain Bears to Chanukah lights, there is a little something for everyone. So turn off the TV, start a fire, and grab a mug of steamy hot chocolate: Here is a look at some holiday books that will delight and inspire.

"The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas" by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain (HarperCollins)

In a book beautifully illustrated and full of holiday spirit, the Berenstain Bears are back -- and this time they have to save Christmas. Every bear in Bear Country has fallen prey to the commercialization of the holiday -- fighting in the "Bears R Us" over toys, competing for the best decorations and selfishly requesting long lists of high-tech gadgets (like electric dogs).

Santa Bear is so concerned about the fate of Christmas he considers canceling the holiday. Thankfully, the Bear family proves the true meaning of Christmas is alive and well.

"Oh Chanukah!" by L.J. Goodman (Grosset & Dunlap)

"Oh Chanukah!", a "lift-the-flap" book, tells the story of a family celebrating the festival of lights. As Bubbie (grandma) tells the story of Chanukah, Mom makes latkes (potato pancakes) and the kids open presents and spin the dreidel.

Each page has a flap that lifts to display various Chanukah traditions -- a lit menorah, chocolate gelt (coins) and a Chanukah song, among others.

"Father Fox's Christmas Rhymes" by Clyde Watson with illustrations by Wendy Watson (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

First introduced 30 years ago, Father Fox returns with a new book of Christmas rhymes. "Father Fox's Christmas Rhymes" celebrates family traditions including cutting down the Christmas tree, making hot apple cider and gathering for a big holiday feast.

Sisters Clyde and Wendy Watson first collaborated on "Father Fox's Pennyrhymes," a National Book Award finalist, in 1972.

"Rudolph Shines Again" by Robert L. May (Grosset & Dunlap)

"Rudolph Shines Again" returns readers to the North Pole for an update on the life of the lovable reindeer. Depressed by the jealous cruelty of his fellow reindeer, Rudolph loses the glow of his famous nose. Unable to help Santa, Rudolph runs away to the forest where he regains the confidence he needs to lead the sleigh on Christmas Eve.

"Queen of Christmas" by Mary Engelbreit (HarperCollins)

Well-known illustrator Mary Engelbreit follows up her New York Times best-selling version of "The Night Before Christmas" with a Christmas book that also launches a series about her famous Ann Estelle character. In "Queen of Christmas," Ann Estelle, Engelbreit's only reoccurring character and alter ego, is counting down the days before Christmas and making her list for Santa. As "The List" grows and grows, she slowly realizes there is more to Christmas than gifts. The book -- which Engelbreit wrote and illustrated -- includes an Ann Estelle paper doll.

"A Sweet Year" by Mark Podwal (Doubleday)

"A Sweet Year" celebrates the foods and traditions of the Jewish holidays. From Chanukah to Passover, author Mark Podwal explains the history of the day and why certain foods, like latkes and matzo (an unleavened bread), hold a strong significance.

Podwal has won numerous awards for his illustrations including a National Jewish Book Award for "You Never Know: A Legend of the Lamed-vavniks."

"A Very Wiggly Christmas" (Grosset & Dunlap)

When Santa's reindeer get sick it's up to the Wiggles -- a song-and-dance quartet from Australia -- to save the day. Using the Big Red Car, the preschool set's fab four -- Anthony, Jeff, Greg and Murray -- help Santa deliver presents to boys and girls across the globe.

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