Christmas Books Without Santa

Christmas books for kids without Santa

I celebrate Christmas from all angles now as an adult but as a child it was all about Santa. I still adore the Santa side of things but have better respect for the religious side as well. Christmas Eve service at our church is deeply meaningful for me and we try our best to be at home every Christmas Eve so we can go as a family. I know every family who celebrates Christmas does so in their own way and I wanted to gather a book list for families looking for books about Christmas that don’t include Santa.

All our book lists include affiliate links.

Christmas in the barn

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown will sound very familiar to you if you are a fan of her book The Big Red Barn, which both my son and I am. I like this book but my son kept saying ” That’s not right” thinking that this was the other book. They are that similar. In this book though there is something that the other doesn’t have, most notably Baby Jesus. It’s a calm and gentle book about the birth of Jesus in a way only Margaret Wise Brown could accomplish.  I would like to read it next year to my son when he can appreciate that it’s not supposed to be exactly the same as  the Big Red Barn. Great book for toddlers and preschoolers alike.

who built the stable

Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan is a beautiful illustrated poem all about who it was that built the stable where Jesus was born. The bright colorful illustrations will wow you as will the heart of this book. The vibrant colors are in contrast with the simplistic poem that tells the familiar nativity story from a fresh perspective. What wowed me was the way that Joseph and Mary were depicted as a loving and vulnerable couple waiting for their first child in less than perfect conditions.The book depicts all the people with dark skin which for me is a great opportunity to talk about this with my children since so much of their experience is with the blonde blue eyed Baby Jesus.

The most precious gift

The Most Precious Gift by Marty Crisp made me tear up. This touching story of giving is really what Christmas should be about. The book follows Ameer a young boy who works for one of the wise men and is part of the caravan to meet Baby Jesus. We learn of his devoted dog Ra and their deep connection and when it is time to offer something to Jesus Ameer gives him Ra. It is not easy to give away his best friend but he knows it is what he should do, and is blessed because of it. The tender relationship between Ameer and his dog Ra will pull at your heart in all the right ways. Children will also be able to really understand sacrifice and giving because they can relate to how important a dog is to a young boy. This book is a great choice for kids 4 and up.

Great Joy

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo made me cry. It’s a simple story about children’s innocence and giving hearts. A little girl sees a homeless man, and that’s what she sees , a man in need, instead of the stranger her mother sees. When she leaves to go to her Christmas pageant she calls out to him to come, when he does the true meaning of her line in the pageant comes to life. Which is when I choked up. Beautiful illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline accompany this simple tale.

din dan

Din Dan Don, It’s Christmas by Janina Domanska is one of a kind. The books follows the pilgrimage to the manger to see the infant Jesus . It starts with a single duck playing bagpipes, but it builds on it self until they spot the manger and the infant Jesus wakes. The story is simple because there is no need for lots of text , the illustrations are amazing. Every page looks like a cross between a stained glass window and a ornate mosaic in a Orthodox church somewhere in Eastern Europe. My son exclaimed “WOW” many times as we turned the pages of this book, and I know I let out a gasp or two as well, simply beautiful! * When I did a search for a photo I could not find this book in print , so you may not be able to find it in store, try your library though!

only a star book

Only a Star by Margery Facklam is a calm beautiful book about the first Christmas. A little girl asks her dad about the decorations on that very first Christmas day and readers are reminded that the true origin of the holiday.  The illustrations by Nancy Carpenter are stunning, they vary in perspective and unlike so many manger scenes, this one looks like a mom and a baby. They gave me chills coupled with the simple but profound text. A great holiday read .

cockadoodlechristmas

Cock-A-Doodle Christmas by Will Hillenbrand is a really unique Christmas story. A little rooster is at the center of this book, he is so little that his cock-a-doodle doesn’t wake anyone up.  He is very sad about his inability until that night he finds himself in the manger with Baby Jesus and finds his voice. It’s a simple book, with profound meanings. This is a great book for a Christan family or to read at Sunday school.

 

 

song of stars without santa

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones is a peaceful book about how all the animals all over the earth passed along the news that Jesus was coming. Every page depicts a different habitat with different animals all chattering in anticipation. Young children will love the pictures of the animals and the beautiful illustrations of the Holy Family. The details are few but the overall ambiance of the book really helps make the point that this birth was ever changing and brought a peace with it.  Lovely book.

little_drummer_mouse

The Little Drummer Mouse by Mercer Mayer is a beautiful book. The dedication to his grandchild is perhaps my favorite part even though the book itself is wonderful too! Read it and you’ll see !  The story is a retelling of the little drummer boy , but in this book he’s a tiny little insignificant mouse. At least he thinks he’s insignificant until he follows the bright star to the manger on the very first Christmas night! The little acorn drum that this little mouse beats is anything but insignificant and he is thrust into the spotlight as Baby Jesus likes his music best of all ! The illustrations are amazing, they have so much detail I find myself opening this book over and over to just look. Great book, the test is lengthy for toddlers but preschoolers and older will love it.

what is christmas

What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams is a great board book for little children about Christmas. It touches on all the fun and cultural aspects of Christmas in a positive way but reminds the readers that really it’s about Jesus’ birth. I like the book because it doesn’t make the rest of the traditions out to be wrong or bad but explains that the holiday’s Christian origin in a simple matter of fact way. While there is a little discussion about Santa , this book really downplays it so I still thought it best for this list.

 

there was no snow books without Santa

There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve by Pam Munoz Ryan is very different than many other books about the birth of Jesus, because it’s simple and intimate. Instead readers first see children in winter scenes before seeing  Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem in a dessert climate. No one pays much notice to these two until after the baby is born and even then the group is small and simply portrayed. There is little discussion about what this baby will go one to do , instead it’s a look at his birth and I think that is a powerful point of connection for children.

who-is-coming-to-our-house

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate is a sweet look at the animals in the manger preparing for Baby Jesus’ arrival. The animals aren’t sure who is coming but at the insistence of the mouse, they clean and prepare the manger until finally a very pregnant Mary on a donkey with Joseph by her side. The next page is probably my favorite image of the Baby Jesus image in any children’s book. Mary’s hair is down, feet bare and Joseph is protective by, the animals are watching and alert.  Illustrator Ashley Wolff does a perfect job with this simple but fantastic book!

The brick bible

The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith is actually one of my favorite Christmas books this year. I grabbed it at Costco because my son is all about Lego but I have read it over and over to my kids because it is a great telling of the Christmas story. Now it doesn’t sugar coat much so if you don’t want to read about mean old King Herod and how he ordered babies to be killed then skip it. It really helped explain the story of Jesus’ birth to my 6 year old and the Lego photographs were a great novelty.

room for a little one

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddel is another peaceful sweet book that gets to the heart of the nativity story. The story here is really about how the stable is a welcoming place to be and how Kind Ox shares his space with all who need refuge. The dog tells the cat that he won’t chase her, and the cat tells the mouse that he will be safe in the stable. It’s clear that this stable is a place for all no matter what. The symbolism is obvious but lovely and not sugary sweet. Kind Ox is showing us all how open doors and open hearts can change the world. I love this book and plan to buy it for my own bookshelf.

Christmas Tree Pencil Toppers Craft { great class gift }

how to make a pencil topper christmas craft

These pencil toppers crafts are a cinch to make  but the glittery foam makes them look super festive. What makes me feel even more festive is to think about how hard my daughter worked on these pencil toppers which will be her little gift to PreK classmates for Christmas. She goes to a church affiliated school so everyone celebrates Christmas but you could adapt this idea for any occasion. The real awesome part of this craft is the use of sticky back glitter foam which is great for glitter-phobes because they are way way less mess than glitter and glue.

christmas pencil topper gifts for kids

Gather your materials. You will need some glitter sticky back foam , some pencils, and scissors.

christmas tree pencil toppers tutorial

Start by tracing your triangles on the back of the green foam. Cut out 2 per pencil.

Christmas Tree pencil toppers class gift

Cut the other colors into strips. This will make it easier for your little artists to handle it and make it small enough to fit on the mini trees.

Leaving the backing on the trees start decorating. She carefully cut, fine motor activity and christmas tree pencil toppers

peeled back the backing and placed the small pieces. pencil toppers for kids

We had a whole factory going! christmas craft pencil toppers for kids

Once we made enough for the whole class it was time to sandwich them. Christmas tree pencil toppers for class giftsPeel the backing off the decorated side ( we didn’t decorate the back), press the pencil in, and sandwich. If there are pieces hanging over the sides you can snip those off no problem.pencil toppers christmas gift kid made Press hard. This foam will stay stuck together if you press firmly and hold for 20-30 seconds. We had 2 of our 14 open the next day but I grabbed an alligator clip and popped it on them for a few minutes and they are back together. Christmas tree pencil toppers for school class gifts

Pop these babies in a little bag topped with bakers twine and you have the perfect sugar free gift for your child’s classmates! Christmas tree pencil toppers encourage writing

 

Books About Christmas

All our book lists contain affiliate links.

rp_stickman-248x300.jpg

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson tickles my funny bone and my son thought it was funny and full of adventure too.  Stick Man is a happy stick who loves with his stick family until a dog grabs him and he ends up far from his family but determined to get home.  As the seasons change he is used as many things from a sword, a bat and even an arm for a snowman. After that he ends up in a fireplace just as a certain jolly old guy gets stuck in the chimney. This is a unique story we both enjoyed , you will never look at another stick in your child’s hands without wondering what it’s been turned into .

the_year_of_the_perfect_christmas_tree

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston made me cry. The story is about the hardships and love of one family torn apart by World War 1 as they prepare for Christmas with no resources. I love how strong the mother in this book is, she does the best he can with what she has, treks through snow to cut that big old Christmas tree down , and the part that made me cry uses her own wedding dress to make her daughter an angel costume for the Christmas pageant. Oh but that is not all she sacrificed, she  used the silk stockings her husband sent her from the war to make a doll for Santa to give to her daughter. The father coming home right as they were leaving the church service – once again starting my water works.  It’s an awesome story but probably too long for a group of kids , or toddlers , but perfect for a bedtime story for preschoolers on up. Also this book and the one previous were illustrated by Barbara Cooney , who captures such meaningful stories with her amazing work.

Bear-Stays-Up

Bear Stays Up for Christmasby Karma Wilson is such a heartwarming story about friendship. Bear is hibernating but his friends wake him up to celebrate Christmas. It’s not easy at first , Bear is super sleepy and wants nothing more than to cuddle back up and fall back to sleep.  They get a tree, decorate it, hang their stockings and sing carols. When all the other animals snuggle in and go to sleep Bear stays up. He is busily making gifts for all his friends, he is so busy he doesn’t even notice Santa coming and filling the stockings. He delights in the friendship and when his friends present him with a lovely quilt, he snuggles under and goes back to sleep happy and filled with friendship. This is such a wonderful book , I love it’s focus on friendship and the excitement of giving gifts!

Blotto Christmas Tree Craft For Kids

blotto christmas tree craft for kidsNow that my family has arrived for the holidays we have been watching Christmas movies, football, running out for errands and generally off our regular schedule. Sticking to a familiar routine helps my kids and stealing my daughter away from my mom for a few minutes to have some quiet time with me was just what we all needed. I got her up to the playroom with no plan at all. I looked at what we had and the time we had to do it in and this idea popped into my head. This is a simple Christmas tree craft but never seems to lose it’s magic even with older kids. Using the glitter glue was a perfect amount of shimmer without any mess.

Gather your materials. You will need some green paint, glitter glue in all sorts of colors, white construction paper and scissors if you want to cut it out.blotto Christmas tree craft

Start by folding your paper in half.Christmas tree blotto crafat for kids

Make an outline of half a Christmas tree in green paint.I did this step but older kids could absolutely do this. I asked my daughter but she wanted me to do this while she did the glitter.christmas tree blotto art project

Invite your little one to decorate the tree with glitter glue.Blotto Christmas tree craft for preschool

Fold and gently press. This is a great time to talk about what gentle means.christmas tree craft blotto painting

Open and be amazed christmas tree blotto pictures! I loved how amazed she was.Christmas tree blotto art project for kids and toddlers

Let dry and hang up with pride!blotto christmas tree activity

Christmas Word Search Free Printable

christmas word searchSo many of us are making big and little trips during the holidays and I thought that this word search might be useful for some of you. I know word searches are always great for plane rides , restaurant waits and even at the kids table on Christmas day.  There are two ways to play depending on ability. For older children they can find the words but for younger kids the goal is to find all letters of each letter. I wouldn’t suggest doing the whole alphabet at once but you can pull this out a few times when you need a little breather and say ” Let’s see if we can find the letter g 10 times! ” it’s a little math too.  Which letter comes up the most?

To print this click on this picture and print!

word search

 

Tape Resist – Easy Christmas Tree Craft

Christmas tree craft for kids I didn’t plan this easy Christmas tree craft at all. I grabbed these little wooden Christmas trees off an end cap at Walmart to appease my daughter. I was zooming around the busy store looking for a specific gift that was not where one would think it would be and she was threatening mutiny from the cart. “What’s that you want a tree? Two? Don’t unclip yourself and we have a deal!”  She sang to them while I finally found the obscure item and made a beeline to the check out just in time to get us home for the school bus. After we got home I looked at what we had on hand and this craft took shape.

Gather your materials. You will need little wooden trees, paint ( we used acrylic glitter  and metallic paint ) , painter’s tape, some brushes ( we ended up using sponge brushes and q-tips but I had already taken my supply picture. We also used a paper punch to punch out the tape stars. easy tape resist christmas tree craft for kids

The kids asked for stars so we used our star paper punch to make them. tape resist christmas craft

Start by taping your trees. My daughter asked for garlands which I did for her and then she added more detail. My son did a row of stars. tape resist christmas tree project

Next add the paint. Sponge on the green. Let dry. For the sake of the fading daylight I used the hair dryer for 30 seconds on each side to speed up drying time. tape resist centerpiece for christmas

Peel the tape off. tape resist wooden christmas tree craft

Add metallic details. wooden tape resist christmas treeMy son painted the edges of his tree gold while my daughter used the unpainted sections as a guide for her metallic paint. There is no wrong or right way. painting tape resist Christmas tree

Let dry. Now hours later I am staring up at these next to their elf houses from last year and loving our growing collection. So thankful my daughter spotted them and I didn’t have the patience to do anything other than grab them to keep the peace.Christmas craft for kids