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.

Read & Make Christmas – 25 Christmas Books With Crafts To Match

Christmas crafts for preschool Are you ready for another Read & Make post? I have so much fun doing these because they bring together so many of my older ideas with newer books or vice versa. I love creating great resources and this post is so easy to take to the library and grab whatever book they still have left on the shelf and know that you will have a great craft to activity to go with it. We have about 60 Christmas crafts on the site so if you don’t see something rad here check out our archives too.

Each pair includes a link to the full post for the craft or activity tutorial and a link to amazon.com for the book. I have read and reviewed most of these books and have paired crafts that would work not only with the book but with the book’s target age group as well. All book titles are affiliate links.

christmas crafts and books for kids

The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup is the perfect book to go with our Paper Bag Gingerbread Men craft.

llama llama holidya drama craft idea

Our Mess Free Ornaments are don’t need a lot of patience which is great if your child is like the little Llama in Llama Llama Holiday Drama .

xmasreadandplay24

Santasaurus by Niamh Sharkey and our Roll and Count Santa Math Game will keep your kids busy and learning!

snow playdough

In McDuff’s New Friend by Rosemary Wellsthe puppy makes tracks in the snow. Your child can make their own with our Tracks In The Snow Playdough activity even if you never get the real stuff in your area.

bear stays up

Bear Stays Up for Christmasby Karma Wilson includes all the traditional pre-Christmas activities like hanging stockings. These Scrap Paper Stockings can be hung up year after year.

nativity game and book

Play our Find & Fill  Nativity Game and then read What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams to further the lesson.

toddler christmas craft

This Handprint Christmas Tree was my daughter’s first craft and Counting Christmas by Karen Katz was one of her first Christmas books too.

Our Snow Globe Snowman craft is a great match for Snowmen at Christmas by Carolyn Buehner .

gingerbread playdough

Create gingerbread men that don’t need to be baked with our Playdough Gingerbread Men and read Mini Merry Book: Gingerbread Joy by Julia Woolf.

xmasreadandplay18

Merry Christmas, Ollie (Gossie & Friends)by Olivier Dunrea will be loved by your little one just as much as they will love the Sticky Wall Christmas Tree .

wise men craft

This Three Wise Men craft is even more meaningful when you read it with The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith.

madeline's christmas

Madeline’s Christmas is set in Paris and while I don’t expect you to jump on a jet and take your kids there you can imagine with your won Eiffel Tower and other Landmark Blocks.

christmas ornaments

Count your way through Merry Christmas, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff then make ( and count) these Letter Ornaments were a cinch to make and after many years they still look great.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo is a touching book and it goes perfectly with this Angel Craft. 

santa craft

This Paper Plate Santa is just right, much like Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno .

littlest elf

Elves don’t live in the toy shop they need houses to live in and these Elf houses are easy to create after reading The Little Christmas Elf (Little Golden Book) by Nikki Shannon Smith.

Rudolf craft

Read The Night Before Christmas  by Clement C Moore and then create your own Handprint Reindeer , you don’t have to make Rudolf!

christmas lights craft

Mooseltoe by Marge Pallatini is a hilarious read that you can follow up with these Sponge Painted Christmas Lights.

xmasreadandplay5Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin is a cute book about giving and these cute kid made gift boxes are a great craft to complete after reading.

ornament craft Even David couldn’t break this unbreakable ornament craft which is why after you read It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon they are a perfect craft to make.

xmas read and play 23

SantaKid by James Patterson is a great read to dive into the North Pole and a great addition to any North Pole play using this DIY  playmat.

xmasreadadnplay10

Christmas Eve with Mrs. Claus by M.P. Hueston is a sweet book about sweets and the perfect companion for this easy candy cane craft .

tree craft

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston is a great book for older children and this Button and Nail Tree is craft that they can really get into as well.

french christmas sign

Read Babar and Father Christmas  by Jean De Brunhoff then create this NOEL banner for a French celebration!

xmasreadandplay1Last but not least read all about How Santa Got His Job in this book by Stephen Krensky and then let your kids test out the jobs for themselves with this  Workshop play idea.

 

What is your favorite Holiday read?

It’s Christmas, David! – Review & Giveaway

It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon.

Being a kid is hard. Being a kid waiting for Christmas to come is even harder and David Shannon remembers what it was like. As parents we try so hard to teach appreciation, gratefulness and patience but it’s so hard to be any of those things when you are little and very very excited! In this book we follow David as he gets scolded for trying to grab Christmas cookies, for peeking at gifts, and my son’s favorite naughty behavior, writing his name in the snow…with pee.  Over the years I have had readers say that they aren’t a fan of the original No! David because they worried it would spark naughty ideas but that is not what these books do. Young kids have a very natural sense of what is right and wrong and they are laughing because they know what he is doing is wrong and even David knows that he has messed up, as he fears Santa will leave him nothing but coal. Of course we all know that David is not a bad kid ( Are there bad kids? I don’t think so! ) and his heart is in the right place even if sometimes he makes bad choices. Both my kids loved this book and I loved the underlying message to parents that being a kid is tough especially when parents are busy.

Now here is the best part! This book was supplied to me by Scholastic Book Club to review and is featiured in their December Book Club fliers ( so if you get them look out for it! ) and they are also giving me one to give away.  Hooray!

To enter for a chance to win your own copy of It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon all you need to do is leave a comment on this post  telling me the title of your all time favorite book.

The giveaway will close  Sunday December 4th 2011 at 10pm PST.  The winner will be chosen by random.org and please only one entry per person.

COMMENTS CLOSED

Disclosure : I was not paid for this review although I did get to choose the book I recieved free to keep and giveaway. All opinions are mine .

Christmas Book Reviews

Books !

” Madeline’s Christmas” was published after Ludwig Bemelmans passed away, it had been published as a book insert in McCall’s magazine in 1956 and as a book in 1985. The story itself is a curious Christmas tale about a rug seller who brings a little magic to Madeline and her friends. My toddler sat for the whole thing and laughed at many of the rhymes, which if you have read others in the Madeline series you will know are awesome. If you are working on rhyming words check this and the rest of the series out!


“Babar and Father Christmas” by Jean De Brunhoff was one of my very favorite Christmas stories as a child. As an adult i have had some great belly laughs at some of it’s writing which I still think is awesome. Babar goes looking for Father Christmas because he wants to ask him to visit Elephant country. He searches all over Paris and finally ends up in the north pole and finds after much effort Father Christmas. I love the details in this book, as a child I would lay looking at the pictures of Santa’s workshop and imagine what visiting it would be like. As an adult I appreciate the smallest details like how Father Christmas’s flying machine ( not a sled) has P.N #1 on it , meaning of course Pere Noel #1.

” Not Until Christmas Walter!” by Eileen Christelow is a cute book that captures the relationship between a girl and her four legged best friend! Walter the dog is eager to get at his present before the big day, when he opens it before Christmas he ends up in the doghouse! It takes a few events to earn his position as a best friend back but he finds a way! The book is broken into 3 chapters and would be a great book for children in the gap between picture books and chapter books.

“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!


” Merry Christmas Ollie” by Olivier Dunrea captures the feelings of children leading up to the holidays…wait…wait…wait… I remember those feelings well. Patience is a hard thing to learn for big people, but it’s almost impossible to be patient when you are waiting for something as magical as Christmas when you are little. This book is a great vehicle for talking about being patient, and the little geese will enchant you!

“What Is Christmas?” by Michelle Medlock Adams is a great 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 origin in a simple matter of fact way.


” If You Take A Mouse To The Movies” by Laura Numeroff is a favorite in our house. I love it because like how your house transforms around the holidays the ever popular “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” transforms too, every page is “decorated” with something from Christmas trees, red and green popcorn buckets, and snowmen. If you aren’t familiar with this series of books the text is cause and effect with each page taking the mouse and a little boy from different holiday situations like listening to Christmas carols, making ornaments and of course going to the movies on a winter day.


“Merry Christmas, Mouse! “ by Laura Numeroff is an adorable little Christmas counting book. Most of the praise should really be on Felicia Bond the illustrator because the pictures take the cake on this one. The book follows the mouse as he decorates the Christmas tree, 1 Star… 2 angels… etc… It’s a perfect to read and then count the ornaments on your own tree. After reading it my son and I found 4 bells, and 3 trains on our own tree.

” Mooseltoe” by Margie Palantini is a funny holiday story with the characters from Moosestash , this time Moose is set on making Christmas perfectly perfect, only ooops he forgot the tree! Luckily he offers up himself and doesn’t do too bad a job as a Christmas tree! This book was to long for my toddler but older preschoolers and even school age kids will love the humor and fun illustration

“Little Tree” by Chris Racshka is another awesome find. I love this book, it’s another visually amazing book and my son was much more into the pictures that are so packed full with fun details that they steal the show. The story inspired by the E.E. Cummings poem by the same name the story follows a little tree who has big dreams of becoming a Christmas tree . I think this book is great especially for children who want to know where the trees in the lots in a city come from.


” Hurry, Santa!” by Julia Sykes is an okay book. I wanted to like it more than I did. The pictures are cute, the idea of Santa being late for Christmas morning has a lot of potential and the author tried but it just never gelled for me. I would still check it out from the library and test it out with your child, but I won’t be adding this to my must buy list.


“McDuff’s New Friend” by Rosemary Wells was a classroom classic in my last year teaching. I think I read it every day for 3 weeks straight and then a few weeks after Christmas too! In it McDuff the little Westie dog saves the day finding Santa stuck in the snow! I love Susan Jeffer’s retro illustrations and the little details like the dad feeding the baby, the doggy sweaters the McDuff wears in the snow, and how Santa gave them all gifts they needed in the story .