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Does your family enjoy reading one Christmas book every day in December until Christmas Day? It’s a great tradition – but choosing which books can be overwhelming. Here are some of my favorites: 25 of the BEST Christmas picture books.
This list includes both old favorites and newer soon-to-be classics. Choose a few you haven’t read to add to your list this year. Be sure to read to the end for a great resource for choosing even more wonderful books!
If you want to track your reading on a cute printable, click here.
Choosing the Right Christmas Books for Kids
Choosing which books to read can be a delight or a chore for parents. If you’re in the middle of the preschool and elementary years, you might not have the time or energy to read several books looking for the perfect ones to read aloud.
To help you choose, I have read dozens of books – including many that I have loved for years – made notes about their content and illustrations, and then given each a rating from 1-10. These books were all from our public library or my personal collection. Just be aware that Christmas books are a hot ticket at libraries during December – so put a hold on yours soon!
From the dozens I have read – plus the dozens from years past that I did not re-read this year – I have selected 25 books to share with you today. These are books that will add magic and joy to your Christmas month, as well as an opportunity to discuss truths about Jesus and lessons about life.
One additional encouragement: If you have the resources, I suggest buying one or two Christmas books each year and building your own collection. The list I am providing is just a starting point. Ask friends, family members, teachers, and your librarian for suggestions. Just be sure you read everything first! Don’t assume every recommended book is right for your family.
Make Reading the BEST Christmas Picture Books FUN!
Most young children will love this tradition. It combines time with family, freedom from technology, and stories! As children age, they may find the tradition more challenging to embrace. Do not let them get away with whining until you give up! Guard your children’s childhood and holiday traditions, even when they don’t appreciate it – they’ll understand later! In the meantime, try to add some excitement by switching things up occasionally.
- Many families choose to wrap each book they will be reading in Christmas paper. If you’ve never done this, do it this year. If you do this every year be sure to add a new book every year, so they’re always wondering when the new book (or two) will be read. Wrapping books is optional but does add some anticipation.
- Another option to add some excitement without taking the time to wrap the books is to number them from 1 – 25. Then make cards (half-size index cards work well) with those same numbers. Put the cards in a container and each day have a child pick one card. The number drawn is the book for that day.
- If you have an Advent calendar you can have a similar approach. Randomly add the numbers 1 – 25 to your Advent calendar. When the calendar is opened for the day, the number in the pocket or door is the book for that day.
- When your children are old enough to read, have them take turns reading the day’s book. You can help early readers by using an “I read one page, then you read one page” approach.
- As your children age, add a twist by throwing in a Christmas story starter two or three times and have them write, and then read aloud their own Christmas stories.
- Christmas movies are very popular at this time of year. Build on the love of movies by planning in advance a couple of movies to watch that are adaptations of the book of the day or share the same theme. I would save these special times for Fridays or Saturdays.
- If you have teenagers who don’t want to participate with your younger children, enlist them in choosing one or two new books to introduce this year. They must agree to read at least ten never-included picture books (get them through the library if possible) and then choose one or two best books to replace some books whose glory days are over.
- Are all your children in double-digits? Don’t abandon your favorite picture books (keep several for sharing) but do add a novel for read-aloud. The novel can only be read when every member of the family is present. This could take several days, depending on the book. The picture books can fill in the days when a family member is absent. Start with Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
Keep Reading After Christmas
If this is your first year adopting the Christmas read-aloud tradition, don’t stop on December 25th! Continue building your childrens’ reading stamina, background knowledge, and character by reading aloud for the other 11 months of the year! This one habit will do more to set your children on the road to success in reading, school, and life, than almost anything else you could do! Keep it up as long as you can – even into high school if schedules allow.
While you might allow some wiggle room during the 11 non-Christmas months of the year, try very hard to stick to a daily schedule of read-alouds. This is especially important as you establish this family habit. Also, don’t worry if your child wants to read the same book ten days in a row. Read it for him or her. But then insist on reading one of your choosing at least every other day. That could be in addition to his or her favorite. For more tips on reading to young children, check out this article.
My List of 25 of the BEST Christmas Picture Books
Start here and then explore more books on your own. Books marked with an asterisk (*) are Christian books. You can get a printable copy of the list – along with my notes – by clicking here. No strings attached!
- ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas* by Glenys Nellist & Elena Selivanova
- Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
- Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
- How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky & S.D. Schindler
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
- Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton & Karen Hillard Good
- Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Bueher & Mark Bueher
- Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey* by Susan Wojciechowski & P.J. Lynch
- The Legend of the Candy Cane* by Lori Walburg & James Bernardin
- The Littlest Angel* by Charles Tazewell & Guy Porfirio
- The Nutcracker in Harlem by T.E. McMorrow & James Ransome
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- This is the Stable* by Cynthia Cotton & Delana Bettoli
- Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble
- Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
- Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond & Diane deGroat
- God Gave Us Christmas* by Lisa Tawn Bergren & David Hohn
- The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup & Matt Tavares
- The Little Drummer Boy* by Ezra Jack Keats
- Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett
- Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal & James Bernardin
- Homemade Together Christmas by Maryanne Cocca-Leffler
- Mortimer’s Christmas Manger* by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore & Rachel Isadora
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; Holly Hobbie
Where to Find More Great Books
I always have suggestions for great books!
- Here’s my list of great books every preschooler should have read to him or her.
- This list is for great Easter books.
- And here are some wonderful Christmas books that didn’t make the cut for the top 25.
Finally, check out my friend’s blog, Big Books, Little Ears, for many more great suggestions. Just search for “Christmas” to get pages and pages of recommendations!