We love reading holiday books during December.
I’ve compiled a list of our Christmas favorites!
There’s a little something for everyone on our list – animals, pirates, fun, history, and religious stories.
Our Favorite Christmas books:
CLASSIC: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore – Illustrated by Tasha Tudor, Ted Rand, Will Moses, and/or Robert Sabuda. These versions of The Night Before Christmas are just lovely and should be read every single year!
- The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristen Kladstrup
A funny and magical Christmas story about a gingerbread pirate, Captain Cookie, and his daring adventure on Christmas eve to rescue his crew from a mysterious cannibal named Santa Claus…
- The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas by Justine Korman
t’s the poky little puppy’s first Christmas, and he’s not sure what to expect. When he meets an animal friend who’s lost his home, Poky’s quick to help–and learns all about the spirit of Christmas.
- Holly Hobbie’s Christmas Book
An illustrated collection of original Christmas verses, together with some well-known Christmas poems by other authors, F.P. Church’s famous Santa Claus letter, and a recipe for sugar cookies.
- The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
A wordless story. The pictures have “the hazy softness of air in snow. A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night.
- The Animal’s Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum
So begins a sweet rhyming story in which a group of animals recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ birth in the manger, and the parts some of their ancestors played in it. This is also a counting book.
- Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan
Brigid’s Cloak retells an ancient tale about one of Ireland’s most beloved saints. On the day she is born Brigid receives a brilliant blue cloak from a mysterious Druid. Years later, the young girl still wears the now tattered but beloved cloak while she tends her sheep. Is it her imagination that suddenly takes her to an unfamiliar land? Or is it something far greater that leads Brigid to a crowded inn in a town called Bethlehem?
- Little One, We Knew You’d Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Lush illustrations echo this simple retelling of the Christmas story for the entire family.
- Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
Olive is merrily preparing for Christmas when suddenly she realizes “Olive… the other Reindeer… I thought I was a dog. Hmmm, I must be a Reindeer!” So she quickly hops aboard the polar express and heads to the North Pole. And while Santa and the other reindeer are a bit surprised that a dog wants to join the their team, in the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas – so many gorgeous versions!
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
One dollar and eight-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure—her long, beautiful brown hair. Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, this classic piece of American literature tells the story of a young couple and the sacrifices each must make to buy the other a gift.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
Christmas is almost here, which means ice-skating, Christmas carols, and sparkly lights everywhere—even on Snoopy’s doghouse! Everyone is enjoying the holiday celebrations except Charlie Brown. Can the Peanuts gang help Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas?
- The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Pine Tree Parable tells the heartwarming tale of a farmer and his family who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.
When the trees are tall enough to offer to their neighbors, the farmer’s wife plans to keep the most beautiful pine tree for her family, until one snowy December night when a child teaches her the true meaning of Christmas.
- The Christmas Tree that Grew by Phyllis Krasilovsky
The Adam family bought a live Christmas tree that grew so tall it reached into their neighbors’ apartments.
- J is for Jesus by Crystal Bowman
I want a candy cane too! Everyone loves a candy cane-but it’s easy to overlook the meaning of this familiar Christmas tradition in all the hustle and bustle of the season. This sweet story reminds little ones that the candy cane represents Jesus’ birth and the gospel message too.
- A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg
The story of a young man’s reluctant visit to an elderly aunt at Christmastime, and the unexpected joy it brings.
- The Polar Express by Chris van Allsberg
A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . .Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.
- One Shining Star by Anne Vittur Kennedy
Help your child learn to count using the most beloved story of all―Jesus’ birth! With gentle rhyme and number fun from 1 to 10, this book is full of shepherds, kings angels, animals, a baby, and a shiny star, all waiting to be counted before bedtime.
- The Littlest Christmas Elf by Brandi Dougherty
The newly-arrived and littlest elf at the North Pole feels lonely, fearful, and too small to do anything, until he is befriended by a kind old elf named Nicholas.
- One Baby Jesus by Patricia A. Pingry
The birth of Jesus is presented in the pattern of the familiar “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
- The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Ewell Hunt
Children will be deeply touched as they understand, perhaps for the first time, the significance of Christ’s life and his atoning sacrifice on the cross.
- Jacob’s Gift by Max Lucado
Jacob is a young boy with a gift for carpentry who is busy finishing up a project for a contest. His teacher, Rabbi Simeon, not only instructs him in carpentry, but also teaches him important lessons about God. Rabbi has just taught Jacob that when you give a gift to one of God’s children, it’s like giving a gift to God. The night before the contest while working on his project, Jacob has fallen asleep in the workshop and is awakened by a bright light. The light is a star which is directly over Jacob’s father’s stable. As he approaches the stable, he sees a man, a woman, and a newborn baby which is laying in the straw. Remembering what Rabbi Simeon had told him, Jacob returns to the workshop and takes his project (a feeding trough) to the new family. The morning of the contest, the Rabbi pleased to find out that Jacob has acted upon the lesson he learned and has truly given a gift to God.
- Alabaster’s Song by Max Lucado
Lying in bed, trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, a young boy spends his time asking questions of the angel that adorns the top of the Christmas tree, but Alabaster the angel does not answer him, until he asks “What was it like to see Bethlehem?”
- Santa, Are You Real? by Harold Myra
Through colorful illustrations and a heartwarming story, children – and parents – will learn who the real Saint Nick was, when he lived, and why he gave gifts. Most importantly, you’ll see how the original Saint Nick set an example for us today by keeping Christ at the heart of Christmas.
- The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
He was just an ordinary donkey, but on his back he carried a miracle. He carried the Virgin Mary to Bethlehem on the night she gave birth. Along the way he dreamed he was carrying a city, a ship, a fountain, and a rose. He dreamed he was carrying a lady full of heaven–and he was. Barbara Helen Berger’s glowing artwork and lyrical text perfectly convey the beauty and majesty of the story of the Nativity.
- We Three Kings by Gennady Spirin
Over two thousand years ago, three great kings journeyed across the desert, riding through the heat of day and dark of night. Each from a different region, each beckoned by the same gleaming star, each bearing treasures, each wishing to welcome a newborn asleep in a manger’s hay — a baby named Jesus, who would change the world.This beloved Christmas carol, written in 1857, celebrates the wise men’s journey and the first Christmas night. Internationally renowned artist Gennady Spirin pays his own type of homage with paintings so exquisitely detailed and wrought that they, too, are a gift — to that baby in the manger and to you.
- The Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke
Though not mentioned by name in Scripture, all know the legend of Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior, whose gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn king are heralded in carols. But what if another had missed the rendezvous and then spent years, searching for the source of the light? Henry Van Dyke imagines that alternative in The Other Wise Man, originally published in 1895. The narrator tells us that along the way, the fourth Magi did not find the Messiah to worship, but found many to help.
- Jotham’s Journey OR Bartholomew’s Passage OR Tabitha’s Travels OR Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreetide. We read one of these Advent stories each year!
- Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck
Rob wants to get his father something special for Christmas this year—something that shows how much he really loves him. But it’s Christmas Eve, and he doesn’t have much money to spend. What could he possibly get? Suddenly, Rob thinks of the best gift of all…
- The Jesse Tree by Dean Lambert Smith or Geraldine McCaughrean. We read through one of these each year.
Familiar biblical tales that trace the family tree of Christ, from the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ birth.
- Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares
Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles.
- The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden
Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.
- The Snow Angel by Debby Boone – We just love the message and illustrations. I bought this for me!
Rose and her grandfather seem to be the only people left in their village who know how to dream and experience the beauty of the world, until a snow angel comes to life and creates a wondrous event.
- The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. A generous trim-size, matte cover, extraordinary photographs, and foiled title make this a special book for the holiday season.And don’t miss the other “Wish” books:
The Reindeer Wish
The Tiny Wish
The Brave Little Puppy
The Puppy’s Wish — coming soon!
- The Message of the Birds by Kate Westerlund
An old owl tells the Christmas story to the community of birds as he has done so many times before, but when he tells of the special message from the Baby Jesus, a little bird questions why they no longer sing the message. “People no longer listen,” is the sad realization. The birds decide to share the message once more, but this time to the children of the world. And what unfolds is surely a Christmas wonder.
- Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd
When Saint Francis stumbles upon a sad donkey, he feels obliged to tell him about the wonderful history the donkey has in the Christian religion as the animal who carried Mary to Nazareth when she was pregnant with Baby Jesus.
- The Glorious Impossible (Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto) by Madeleine L’Engle
The birth of Jesus was a Glorious Impossible. Like love, it cannot be explained, it can only be rejoiced in. And that is what master storyteller Madeleine L’Engle does in this compellingly written narrative, inspired by Giotto’s glorious frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.
38. The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren
In this sequel to the classic The Tomten, the creator of Pippi Longstocking adapts a Swedish folk tale into a beloved children’s story. When a hungry fox wanders into a farm late at night looking for food, the guard troll Tomten finds a way to keep the farm animals safe and feed the fox at the same time.
39. On Winter’s Eve by C.D. AlexanderOn winter nights, when the snow is falling, Pippa goes to sleep knowing she’ll wake up to tracks in front of her farmhouse. The tracks are small, and they come from the woods—those same woods that her mother says are full of witches and elves and trolls, and her father says are full of wolves and bears and demons. But these tracks are the Tompte’s, and he is a friendly creature. Or at least that’s what Pippa hopes. . . The Tompte borrows and mends things, he takes and he sometimes leaves things, and such is life on a farm at the edge of the realm. Her mother calls it tradition. Her father calls it a curse. And when things start going missing and trouble comes their way, Pippa’s not sure what to believe. Soon enough, she’ll have no choice but to go into the woods to find out. . .
40. The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits by Ulf Stark
Grump the Yule Tomte lives all alone, which is exactly how he likes it! He’s waiting for Christmas to arrive when all of a sudden a gust of wind steals his mittens from the washing line and his hat from his head. That’s the last straw — he won’t be the Yule Tomte any more!
Binny and Barty, the rabbit children, live with their family in the forest. They’ve never heard of Christmas, or the Yule Tomte, until the wind brings them some strange gifts…
All the animals in the forest prepare for the arrival of Christmas. They make presents, bake sweet treats and even write a song. But will the Yule Tomte ever bring Christmas to the big forest?
41. Tomten by Viktor Rydberg
In the middle of winter and late at night, an old friend returns for his annual visit to take care of the animals and look after the inhabitants of the old farmhouse. He goes through his regular routine but becomes perplexed by an undying question for which he cannot find the answer. Generations come and generations go. “But where do they come from and to where do they go?”
42. Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas by Nora Surojegin
One day Otto, an elfin adventurer, finds a postcard on the seashore showing pictures of beautiful sparkling lights in the night sky with the words, ‘The light of Christmas!’ If this ‘Christmas’ can brighten even the gloomiest Finnish winter, Otto decides he must find it. So he heads north, trudging through dark forests and skiing towards the fells of Lapland, in search of the secret light of Christmas.
On his way he meets the mighty Kekri, king of the forest, Niiu, a beautiful leaf fairy, a hungry badger, a friendly bear and the infamous Ironworm. But will he ever find the mysterious light he’s looking for, and will Christmas brighten Otto’s winter?
43. Little Tomte’s Christmas Wish by Inkeri Karvonen
Little Tomte lives happily in his cosy house beside a beautiful tree. When winter arrives, he’s worried that Christmas won’t come. So he makes a special Christmas wish and embarks on a candle-making plan which will help make his wish come true.
44. Fotinoula and the Christmas Goblin by R.G. Fraser-Green
11-year old Fotinoula doesn’t believe her grandfather when he warns her about the Christmas goblins. After all, the Kallikantzaroi were just an old Greek myth. Creatures with blood-red eyes didn’t really climb up from the underworld during the Twelve Days of Christmas to steal little children, and certainly not in a busy city like Athens.
45. Joy to the World by Tomie dePaola
This collection unifies three of the incomparable Tomie dePaola’s most beloved Christmas stories into one handsome volume. Vividly portrayed and expertly crafted, The Night of Las Posadas, The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and The Legend of the Poinsettia are sure enchant and mesmerize the whole family during the holiday season.
This deluxe Christmas collection is the perfect holiday gift! It includes seven of Jan Brett’s most beloved Yuletide titles: The Night Before Christmas, Trouble with Trolls, Christmas Trolls, The Mitten, The Hat, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and The Wild Christmas Reindeer.
47. The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann
Written in 1816 by one of the leaders of German Romanticism for his children, nephews, and nieces, The Nutcracker captures better than any other story a child’s wonder at Christmas. The gift of a handsomely decorated nutcracker from a mysterious uncle sets the stage for a Christmas Eve like no other for the little girl Marie. That night, Marie’s extraordinary present comes to life, defends her from the taunting Mouse King, and whisks her off to the Kingdom of Dolls.
48. Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or painting. The letters were from Father Christmas.
They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more.
49. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston
This unforgettable tale, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Barbara Cooney, has become a seasonal classic-a touching and joyful story about courage and the power of family.
50. Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou
In this beautiful, deeply moving poem, Maya Angelou inspires us to embrace the peace and promise of Christmas, so that hope and love can once again light up our holidays and the world. “Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers, look heavenward,” she writes, “and speak the word aloud. Peace.”
Read by the poet at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House on December 1, 2005, Maya Angelou’ s celebration of the “Glad Season” is a radiant affirmation of the goodness of life.
51. The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale by Philip Van Doren Stern
For almost seventy years, people the world over have fallen in love with Frank Capra’s classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life. But few of those fans know that Capra’s film was based on a short story by author Philip Van Doren Stern, which came to Stern in a dream one night.
Unable at first to find a publisher for his evocative tale about a man named George Pratt who ponders suicide until he receives an opportunity to see what the world would be like without him, Stern ultimately published the story in a small pamphlet and sent it out as his 1943 Christmas card. One of those 200 cards found its way into the hands of Frank Capra, who shared it with Jimmy Stewart, and the film that resulted became the holiday tradition we cherish today.
52. Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever by Matt Tavares
Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.
What’s your favorite holiday book?
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