in an article about holiday YA books, a picture of the book Let It Snow

5 Festive YA Books To Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Young adult novels based around the holidays are often much more inclusive than their cinematic counterparts and are sure to have something that truly anyone can enjoy.
December 15, 2021
9 mins read

It’s that time of the year again — it’s time to watch classic Christmas movies about wet bandit burglars and an elf that eats spaghetti topped with maple syrup. It’s time to hear all those songs we probably hate but still sing anyway because we’ll always know all the words. However, no one really thinks about rereading their favorite festive YA books. Well, except for me, which is why I’m here to spread the Christmas joy of reading stories instead of just watching or hearing them.

Before I introduce you to these, my disclaimer is that these are not timeless Shakespearean works. These novels may roughly offer Hallmark levels of cringey sentimentality, but I guarantee that they are enjoyable beyond their cringe factor. They offer a cozy cheesiness and warmth and I think that’s the point. Smile. Have fun and enjoy not taking life so seriously for once. With that, I present to you Christmas YA books that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit:

“Let It Snow”

Let It Snow” is a YA book written by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, all of whom being quite popular and successful in the YA world. This story follows three different main characters through three different stories written by each author. All three stories connect to each other, but not in a way that is confusing. You don’t need to read one story to understand another. The details that connect them only immerse you deeper into this fictional town that begins to feel more real. A snowstorm has hit the main town and a few smaller ones nearby. We follow each character and how this storm has or will affect their holiday plans.

This story is one of my favorites because the friend group dynamics are all so different, but still relatable in every way. It has those corny romance plots I will die for, but it also affirms the importance of family and friends. There are so many found family moments with the friend groups that are beautifully and realistically represented, all resonating with the idea of being in college and growing up. You realize your family doesn’t exactly mean just your family. Friends become so important to us at this age and this book is a great example of how.

“My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories”

My True Love Gave to Me” is actually a collection of 12 short stories written about the holidays. It includes authors like Gayle Forman (“If I Stay”), David Levithan (“Every Day”), Jenny Han (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”) and many more. This book feels like when you sit down with your family to binge-watch every Christmas movie ever. In addition, it’s inclusive of other holidays that fall around this time and doesn’t solely focus on Christmas. There’s a story about Hanukkah, Winter Solstice and even one that just celebrates events like New Year’s. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. If there’s a story you aren’t enjoying, skip it; there are plenty of others. There are plenty of opportunities to find the holiday story that fills you with more warmth than hot chocolate or a cozy fireplace. This YA book is one of the most festive for this time of the year.

“Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares”

“Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares,” written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, is one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve experienced in a while. Lily is looking for love for the holidays. However, Lily is not an ordinary girl, which means her way of finding love is similarly no less ordinary. She plants a notebook in her favorite bookstore with challenges and dares for the person bold enough to accept it. It’s exciting to watch the exchanges between the two and the adventures they send each other on. Some moments are predictable but in the most comforting and familiar way.

People don’t watch rom-coms because they are suspenseful and full of surprises — people watch them because it’s safe. In addition to being able to read this YA book, Netflix has created a short series based around it as well. So, when you’ve finished reading the book and decide you don’t have enough Dash and Lily or Christmas in your life, you can hit up Netflix to continue the festive spirit. In case you wanted to keep the marathon going, “Dash & Lily” was adapted into a series that is also featured on Netflix.


Winterspell” is a YA book by Claire Legrand and puts a unique twist on a Christmas story we are all familiar with: “The Nutcracker.” Taking place in New York City in 1899, the story follows Clara Stole, who has been living a double life ever since her mom passed. However, on Christmas Eve even more is piled onto her life when her home is destroyed and her father is abducted by beings that are definitely not human. The audience follows her on this journey that is familiar but still has us turning each page as fast as we can. It’s a dark twist on a timeless fairy tale and I loved every bit of it. If you are looking for a story that takes a classic Christmas tale in an entirely different direction, “Winterspell” is the perfect holiday read for you.

“The Afterlife of Holly Chase”

The Afterlife of Holly Chase” is a novel by Cynthia Hand and is similar to “Winterspell” in that it’s a retelling of an old holiday classic. This retelling is about the one and only “A Christmas Carol. Five years ago, Holly was visited on Christmas Eve by three ghosts that basically showed her how spoiled and selfish she had become. Much like the original story, they try to save her and encourage her to fix her ways. This is the story of someone who doesn’t and dies because of it. Now she lives as one of those very ghosts at the age of 17, while she watches everyone around her continue to grow older. This is the story of how she might finally begin to fix things for the better. I enjoy the idea of bringing back old Christmas classics with new and refreshing ideas. This novel does exactly that.

YA books are easily the most underrated genre when it comes to holiday traditions, but one worth exploring. With all these new Christmas experiences and stories, I hope this article will help you find the one that makes for an extra special holiday and encourage you to read more YA books in the future.

Tori Barney, Columbia College Chicago

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Tori Barney

Columbia College Chicago
Creative Writing

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