I love Christmas books and this year I have gathered even more for you. 75 Christmas books for kids. You can’t go wrong with this list; it’s got books for babies through school age, and I even have reviews, almost all positive. Almost. This is a very very long post, but I wanted the reviews to be all in one place. There are some fantastic books in this list of Christmas books, and there are some turkeys. The thing is even the turkeys can end up being favorites, and I encourage all parents to not worry too much if their child’s favorite Christmas book is one based off a bad TV show. They love a book. That is awesome! Just fit some of these other fantastic ones in when you read.
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Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans was published after the author 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!
Barney’s Christmas Surprise by Mark S. Bernthal is a sweet book hidden in a Barney package. I know a lot of people don’t like Barney, but this book isn’t terrible at all, it’s actually quite good. The story is about how Barney and his friends want to do something nice for the birds and other animals outside. They make bird feeders and garlands as Christmas gifts for the creatures. It’s a great book to read before making some yourself.
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett is a great book to read whether your children are familiar with the song or not. I love that even though I think of it being a song, my son thinks of it as a math book, counting up the gifts on every page. In classic Jan Brett fashion, the illustrations are incredibly detailed, in the side pictures you can follow a family trimming their tree and I particularly liked the holiday salutations on every page in different languages. My only complaint is the copy we got from the library was sticky.
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.
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 its writing. Babar books in general beg to be pre-read, just trust me. In this book, 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.
Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan is a beautifully 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.
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner is a sweet look at how the snowmen we build celebrate Christmas. I love this book and the magic it spreads and my kids feel the same way. It’s so much fun to imagine that snowmen come to life while we sleep. There are hidden images in the amazing illustrations, and my kids love trying to find them as we read.
Georgie the Gingerbread Fairyby Tim Bugbird is a sparkly fun book about entrepreneurship. Georgie is a little fairy who makes gingerbread but when a new shop opens her business drops. When a problem arises with the new shop, it’s Georgie to the rescue to keep the holidays smelling ( yes you read that right) as the holidays in her little fairy town. My daughter likes this book and loves to pick out which fairy she would be on every page ( I’ll give you a hint it’s always the one with the most pink), and I appreciate the message of problem solving and women owned businesses!
It’s Christmas by Tina Burke is simple and brief, but it’s not too simple to share with a wide range of ages. The story reads like a photo album with short descriptions of holiday preparations, traditions, and celebrations. My favorite is the picture with Santa with a screaming baby. The heart of this book though is how it captures the feeling of having to wait forever for Santa to come.
The Star Tree by Gisela Colle is a fable about the spirit of Christmas and how it gets lost in the hustle and bustle of modern life. An old man decides to make gold stars just like he did as a child to decorate for Christmas, but when he looks out at the city and their gloom he decides he needs open space for his stars to shine. So he walks out to the country, and soon he’s not alone, and before he knows it, the stars have made their way back to the city and so has the spirit of Christmas. Cute story with darker undertones for parents but my son really enjoyed the surface story about shiny stars and gloomy cities.
Maisy’s Christmas Day by Lucy Cousins is about as simple as a book about Christmas can get which is why my toddler has asked me to read it to her 300 times. Maisy’s friends are all with her to celebrate, and after opening gifts, they sit down for Christmas dinner complete with paper crowns from their Christmas crackers. I like that the focus on sharing the day with people that matter.
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.
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 three chapters and would be a great book for children in the gap between picture books and chapter books.
Peter Claus and the Naughty List by Lawrence David. Peter Claus hopes to follow in his dad’s footsteps someday. But then he ended up on the naughty list. Peter doesn’t think the naughty list is fair. He takes his dad’s sleigh and gathers all the kids on the list and bring them to the North Pole to explain to Santa why they did some of the not so nice things. One-by-one Santa takes the kids home while listening to their tales. He agrees if the kids do one nice thing to make up for a naughty thing they still might find a gift under the Christmas tree. This is a great story that realizes it’s hard to be good all the time, but that doesn’t make them bad. “All people do naughty things once in a while. It can’t be helped,” Santa explained. “Saying you’re sorry is what matters most.” (review by Carrie Anne )
Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner? by Tomie dePaola is a funny book about the classic family gathering. I don’t know about you but our family Christmas dinners were more comical than Norman Rockwell, and I related so well to all the different family personalities, and quirks. My son thought the fact that one of Santa’s friends brought a polar bear was hilarious but was perplexed by the absence of any elves. I like that Santa is exhausted by his family but in the end happy he hosted such a large family gathering. My son liked it and loved the illustrations but it is a longer book so take a flip through it to see if your child is ready yet.
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney is the holiday installment of the popular Llama llama series. Like the other books not only does this book rhyme it also connects with it’s readers. The story is all about something that we adults feel but maybe forget that our kids do too. Christmas is overwhelming. It just is and sometimes all you need to feel better is a cuddle. Your kids will love to see how crazy Llama is feeling and hopefully realize that it’s OK to slow down and just sit with someone they love and let the excitement calm for a bit.
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.
Disney It’s A Small World Christmas Around the World by Disney Book Group & Calliope Glass is a hidden gem. The story isn’t complex, but readers get a glimpse into children all over the world and the fun animation style illustrations are bright and fun! My daughter loves getting a sneak peak into different countries, and I like trying to find the flag on each page. It really is brief and perfect for an introduction into different celebrations not an in-depth study of other cultures.
Doc McStuffins A Very McStuffins Christmas by Disney Book Group & Shelia Sweeny Higginson is the turkey I was talking about. If you have ever seen this episode of Doc McStuffins, you will immediately know the show is better than the book. I love Doc McStuffins for so many reasons and think that she is a rad little role model for kids. This book though was painful to read, and I will be reading it over and over because my daughter loves it. It’s not all bad, though; it comes with some pretty cool stickers!
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 itselfuntil 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!
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 Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty is a sweet book about the youngest member of a family of elves at the north pole. He is ready to choose what area of the north pole he will work in and tries out all the jobs his family does from the book shop, to the bakery, and toy shop but nothing is a good fit. Finally he finds his own talent and with the help of the littlest reindeer he catches the eye of Santa too. Both my kids really enjoyed this book as preschoolers. Great message about everyone having their own talents.
Merry Christmas, Ollie (Gossie & Friends)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!
N Is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks is a great alphabet book that takes readers through the traditional elements Christmas in Latino ( primarily Mexican) culture. I loved this book. I loved the fun cartoon-like illustrations that matched well with each bit of text. I loved learning more about how a culture different from my own celebrates Christmas and know that for many of you this will be a fun reflection of your own traditions. At the end of the book there is an author’s note with longer explanations of each item in the alphabet book. Not only can your kids learn a few new Spanish words but getting a peak into traditions other than their own is a wonderful eye opening experience. Lovely lovely 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 .
Oh, What a Christmas!by Micheal Garland is a sweet story about how Santa made do when the unexpected happened. As we all know reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh but when the reins break and Santa comes crashing down they are nowhere to be seen! Luckily a rag tag group of farm animals step in and save the day. The message that it’s not the reindeer but rather the magic that makes the difference is loud and clear . I like how this book can also open a dialog about how even special days can have unexpected bumps and you make do with what you have , just like Santa in this story.
Christmas Morning by Cheryl Ryan Harshman wasn’t what I expected , it was more. It’s written in the spirit of “The House That Jack Built” and the text builds and builds starting with snow falling on a house as children sleep and ending with Christmas morning. What I wasn’t expecting is that the author tells the story of The Nutcracker , albeit a very simplistic version, in the rhyming text as well. The illustrations of the Rat King is a little frightening but nothing that will prevent you from reading it.
Happy Christmas, Gemma by Sarah Hayes is a hidden gem. The book is narrated by a preschooler, the older brother to little baby Gemma. Throughout this family’s preperations for and celebration of Christmas, he notes how he does what he is supposed to and his baby sister does not. She makes messes, pulls the ornaments off the tree, has terrible table manners during Christmas dinner and so much more! What makes this a gem in my mind is that no one ever corrects her, these are all age appropriate behaviors and the family is loving and accepting. Perfect for families like mine who are expecting a baby, or those with older siblings who like to boss their younger ones around and may need a reminder that babies are still learning, just like they are!
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.
Grace at Christmas by Mary Hoffman is a lovely story about a little girl who lives with the mom and Nana who open up their home to friends of friends over Christmas. Grace isn’t so sure about this but her Nana reminds her what could be more in the spirit of Christmas than opening your home to those who need it? I like this book for a bunch of reasons. Not just because they talk about being shy, feeling like a stranger and how to turn that into being friends, but also because Grace’s family looks very different than my children’s family. I try hard to get books with all sorts of families and in this one Grace lives with her mom and Nana while her dad lives in Africa. I read this with my 8 year old and we talked about all different kinds of families, divorce, and how he would feel about spending Christmas without his dad. It’s also just a fun story with a great Christmas wish ending too!
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 the First World War as they prepare for Christmas with no resources. I love how strong the mother 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 waterworks. 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.
The Christmas ABC (Little Golden Book)by Florence Johnson will transport you back in time. I love this alphabet book because it was a childhood favorite I’d forgotten about until I started reading it and was transported back to the early 80s. The book is much older than that though and takes readers through the classic Christmas symbols like angels, and giving and ornaments with a rhyming blurb for each. Even if you don’t have any childhood memories of this book I think it’s still worth a good look!
Pinkalicious: Merry Pinkmas! by Victoria Kann is another fluffly book that won’t be passed down as a family heirloom but my daughter really loved it. She loved it because it’s pink, all pink and my 4 year old is pink obsessed. In it Pinkalicious convinces her family to get a pink Christmas tree and while the story might look like some pretty spineless parents bending to their child’s every demand if you look a little deeper you will see it’s about not doing what you have always done just because you’ve always done it.
Counting Christmas by Karen Katz is what you might expect from this awesome author. It’s sweet, cute and will get your littlest readers excited for Christmas. I like the sentiment that Christmas is a magical day to share with family. My daughter adores the illustrations of all the babies, and the math element is a great bonus too.
My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is a perfect book for this activity. In this story a little boy writes to Santa and asks for a very specific gift, a real live penguin! It’s not long before he realizes that a real live penguin is not as much fun as he thought it would be. He is very responsible though and sacrifices a lot for Osbert. He is thankful to Santa for getting his gift exactly right but writes a follow up letter explaining how it would be ok if Santa sent a replacement. Very cute story, it’s not short though but my 3 year old listened to it happily for a bedtime story. Laughing at the funny parts and pointing out that he wrote a letter to Santa too, but he didn’t ask for a penguin – thank goodness!
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup was an instant hit with my son but it was too long for my daughter who sat and listened but wasn’t engrossed in it. The story was all about pirate gingerbread men who come to life on Christmas Eve and faced Santa even though most of them were left for him to eat. There is adventure, there is humor and a whole lot of Christmas magic. What made this book for me were the illustrations by Matt Tavares. I loved that they were from the perspective of the gingerbread pirates . Love this book.
How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky is a fun and surprisingly practical story about Santa and how he developed the skills needed for his one of a kind job. It starts with Santa as a young man and as he keeps bouncing from job to job he acquires skills like going in and out of chimneys as a chimney sweep with ease and without getting dirty, develops a relationship with reindeer as a zoo worker and gets chubby eating all the food at a all night diner gig! There are more but i don’t want to spoil the story. My son loved it, especially once the elves showed up, which was when the toys did too! I know when i was a kid I wanted to know how Santa got his job, and there are movies dedicated to this so this book jumped on the bandwagon and did a great job , it’s very cute!
How Santa Lost His Job by Stephen Krensky is the second book by this author all about Santa. This time it’s about how he lost his job because of an overzealous elf intent on innovation. The elf is sure that he can invent a machine that can be more efficient than Jolly old St. Nick or can he? I love the commentary about how machines can’t really ever replace people and that being Santa is about much more than just delivering gifts.
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin was a big hit at our house with both my toddler and kindergartener. If you haven’t met Pete The Cat before he is a chill cool cat that never lets anything get to him. I like how in all the books Pete teaches simple lessons in resilience by example. In this book Santa is sick and Pete steps in to save Christmas even though he’s not totally sure he can do it. He gets himself ready for the challenge with a refrain “Christmas is about giving, so I’ll give it my all.” My daughter thought it was hilarious that Pete skipped the sleigh and drove his VW minibus with the reindeer.
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.
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.
Ho, Ho, Ho, Tucker! by Leslie McGuirk is a cute story about an adorable little dog Tucker who is crazy about Christmas. While getting into the holiday spirit he burns his nose on a cookie pan . When Santa sees his bright red nose he asks him to come a long for the fun on Christmas Eve. There is a lot of good natured humor that any young child will giggle at , Tucker peeing on a Christmas tree got some good giggles at our house. I doubt this will be a Christmas classic to read on Christmas Eve but it a cute book your kids will enjoy.
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.
Santa Duck and His Merry Helpers by David Milgrim is really funny. Santa duck is the duck liaison to Santa and he goes around to find out what all the other ducks want for Christmas. His younger siblings want in on the action too and start telling ducks that they can get them bigger and better gifts in an effort to out Santa Santa Duck. Santa Duck explains that bigger and better gifts is not what Christmas is about . Christmas is about giving and sharing with your family. My son who is 6 and I both laughed at the smart alec ducks and while rude and annoying in many ways they were right when they said Santa Duck was hogging all the fun by being the only duck allowed to dress as Santa and be his helper. Cute book !
a creature was stirring by Clement C. Moore and Carter Goodrich was a recent find at the library. Around the holidays ( any holiday) my son and I attack the stacks like soldiers on a mission and look for the sticker on the binding indicating it’s a Christmas themed book. This was one of the few we found yesterday , and what a find! The book is an adaptation of the classic “Twas a Night Before Christmas” with a little boy interrupting the poem with his own rhyming story. It’s an adorable story about a little boy who simply can’t sleep , wants to be good but is oh so worried Santa will think he is naughty. I adore this book, it’s simple and fun and a great addition to the classic that so many of us have been read and will read to our kids this Christmas.
The Night Before Christmas Board Book by Clement C Moore and illustrated by Bruce Whatley. I was so excited to share this poem with my son, but was not as excited to share some of the illustrations with him. Some of them freaked me out. The first picture of Santa coming out of the chimney was creepy! That said my son wasn’t at all afraid and loves this book. The illustrations are mostly done from funky perspectives and are beautiful but not the polished happy mall Santa that you may be expecting. My 3-year-old didn’t pick up on Santa’s and the father’s exchange with a cowboy figuring but adults will enjoy the message that we are never too old to believe and to be a part of the Christmas magic.
The Night Before Christmas (Little Golden Book) by Clement C Moore I wasn’t sure if I was going to add another version of this book but this is the version I read on Christmas Eve as a child. You might recognize this Golden Book as well . I loved the ornate illustrations and how jolly this Santa really is. Now I have heard complaints in the past about how Santa is smoking a pipe. I personally don’t think this promotes smoking but I wanted to add this in since I fielded a few comments about it before. It’s Santa in an old book. If your child notices it talk about how they used to think smoking was OK but how we know now it’s not. I will be reading this Christmas Eve to my two little ones for certain!
If You Take a Mouse to the Moviesby 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! (If You Give”)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 four bells, and three 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 oops he forgot the tree! I reviewed this a few years ago when my son was too little to really get the book or to sit long enough for me to finish but we re read it last night. He thought it was hilarious and by the time he was 5 he had fun repeating some of the great melodic text as we read it. The story is one kids and parents can relate to about trying so hard to make the holidays perfect that you forget something important like the tree! It’s a silly story with a big heart.
Santa Kid by James Patterson is a favorite library book in our house this year . My son inherited his love and curiosity of the inner workings of the North Pole from me and this book feeds that wonder. It also taps into something preschoolers are often seeking, power and a voice that gets heard. In the story, Santa’s daughter saves the North Pole and Christmas from a corporate takeover. I liked this book, and my son did too. It doesn’t focus on the religious celebration but rather on Santa and it doesn’t take a very sophisticated kid to know it’s make-believe, 3 pages in my son said “Mommy, this is a made-up story right? Santa isn’t a regular Daddy. That’s silly!” What it does is focuses on giving kids power to save something. Maybe it’s just my 4 year old but he spends all day pretending to save the day and this book spoke right to that desire to be powerful and good!
Dragon’s Merry Christmas by Dav Pilkey is a sweet little book about what Christmas is really about. Dragon might be big and bulky, but under the rough exterior, he is adorable and sweet to the core. My daughter liked this book and loved that it’s formatted like a chapter book even though the text is short. She helped me read the words and felt like a big kid. Not only did she get the message that Christmas is about giving not getting, but she also got the message that she can read simple words.
Welcome Comfortby Patricia Polacco is a touching book that I think every family should read. The story is about a little boy Welcome Comfort who is picked on at school, has been in the foster system forever and has no family of his own. His school custodian becomes a refuge and helps him believe in Santa for the first time. Over the years he and his wife become Welcome’s family and when the old custodian retires he reveals a wonderful secret to the now grown Welcome. I love this book because it really lets parents dive into the truth of how not all children wake up to a beautiful tree with way too many toys under it. Christmas isn’t everyone’s favorite time and this book lets children learn about that while still being about magic.
Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera is odd book. It gets rave reviews from so many people but I just didn’t connect with it, nor did my kids. The story is about a rich little girl in New York City who is suspicious of her unmarried aunt who disappears every December from the penthouse in Manhattan without telling anyone what she is doing other than it’s a business trip. Her niece stows away in the magic elevator and goes undercover as an elf when she ends up at the north pole. I was so hoping that I would like this because I love strong female characters but the story just never really went anywhere. I still want to know what Auntie Claus does at the north pole! This was a miss for us.
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 of 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. * This seems to be out of print but check your local library for it .
Merry Un-Christmas by Mike Reiss is a fun twist on Christmas Book. In it Noelle is tired of Christmas, because in her town it’s Christmas every day except one. She can’t fake the enthusiasm for another pony or bike but when she figures out that Un-Christmas is coming she is elated. It’s the only day she goes to school, it’s the only day the mail comes and it’s filled with tradition and special meaning. I love how this book turns everything topsy-turvy and makes kids think what really makes Christmas special. My little guy is too young at just 3 to get that but he sure thought it was funny ! Very cute book!
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.
10 Trim-the-Tree’ers (Holiday Counting Books) by Janet Schulman is a favorite at our house after only a few readings. We are huge fans of this series that include Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day versions as well. In this one, the group of little friends are decorating a Christmas tree, and readers count along as they add their items to the tree all with a rhyming text. I found the text a little awkward, but it didn’t bug my daughter one bit. We love counting the ornaments over and over and playing little math games while reading.
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.
Santasaurus by Niamh Sharkey is my new favorite Christmas book. It’s perfect for all the dinosaur crazy kids and ones not even into dinosaurs will still enjoy the sweet story. Ollie, Molly, and Milo are dino siblings who are getting prepared for Christmas by making decorations, eating treats and writing letters to Santasaurus. Milo asks for a trip on Santasaurus’ sleigh and on Christmas Eve he sneaks down to find Santasaurus waiting for him. I love this book because as a child I couldn’t think of anything more magical than going with Santa on his sleigh, well maybe hanging out in his toy shop, either way, this brought back that wonder. The illustrations are bright, fun and add to the magical feeling of this book.
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 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.
The Little Christmas Elf (Little Golden Book) by Nikki Shannon Smith is a sweet book not just about Christmas but also about perseverance, attention to detail and hard work. In this story, the littlest elf is working hard but just isn’t fast enough to get her teddy bear finished in time to be in Santa’s sack for Christmas. Santa delivers the bad news but encourages the little elf to keep at it, and they will use the toy next year. She still doesn’t give up doing her best work even knowing Santa is already off to children’s homes everywhere. Right after she is done Santa comes back, a new baby was born, and he needs that teddy bear! I loved the message, and my son did too. Very sweet book.
How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow is a great book to go along with this activity. The book is styled as an expose about how Santa and his many many elves get all the work for Christmas done. I will caution you now that this is a long book, with even longer asides. I made my son head up to bed with me and the book early in order to get it read and still have time to chat about it after. I love the “insider” feel about this book and so did my son. There were many asides that made both of us giggle especially the comment about how many requests Santa gets for ponies each year. I loved that it encouraged kids to write to Santa but I have to say I sorta miss that it didn’t include much about magic. Still I can’t tell you how much my son loved this book (I knew he would) and how impressed I was when he asked me if I thought this was how it worked. That opened a great discussion about how we imagine the North Pole and how stories and movies are just one person’s imagination and no one knows the truth .
Inside, Outside Christmas by Robin Spowart is a great simple Christmas book for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, each set of pages has something we do during the holidays inside and one outside. The text has simple rhymes that my son liked, and it isn’t too short for preschoolers, the pictures led to questions and discussion and the end of the book has a holiday greeting for everyone! Cute book to get young readers into the spirit of Christmas.
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.
Santa’s Kwanzaaby Gail Eileen Thomas starts out like a typical Christmas book, but as Santa returns to his home at the North Pole, he begins a whole new celebration. Kwanzaa! I really like this book for many reasons but the main one because it uses something very familiar to help teach about Kwanzaa which is not terribly familiar to many of us. I get many requests for Kwanzaa books, and I am thrilled to be able to add this book to my list of recommendations especially since so many people celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa.
Mouse’s First Christmas by Lauren Thompson is a wonderful board book for toddlers. I love this series and read them to my class of 2 and three year olds all the time. The book is short but introduces many of the different ideas of Christmas so the adult can expand on relevant ones easily. I love how Mouse’s discovery of all these new items matches a 2 or 3-year-olds discovery of their own family traditions. Very cute book for toddlers.
Albert’s Christmas by Leslie Tryon is awesome. I love this book and so does my son. It’s such an original story about a troop of animals who act as a pit crew for Santa and his sleigh. They give the sleigh a tune-up just the same way race car pit crews do. If your child has seen the movie Cars, they are sure to make the link. The rhyming text is wonderful the pictures are adorable, and the feeling of everyone pitching in made me smile. In a genre of similar stories.
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 bookshelf.
Olive, the Other Reindeer.by Vivian Walsh is probably familiar to you if not because of the book, maybe the TV special starring Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive. If it’s new to you the story is simple, Olive is a little dog who after hearing a Christmas carol believes she is one of Santa’s reindeer. She journey’s to the North Pole and even though she can’t fly and is just a dog she saves the day. I love the vibrant and busy illustrations by J. Otto Seibold and Olive’s childlike innocence. There is a reason this book has exploded into a character driven product; it’s cute and we can all relate to wanting to get to ride with Santa and his crew on Christmas Eve.
McDuff’s New Friend by Rosemary Wells was a classroom classic in my last year teaching. I think I read it every day for three 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.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by 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 its focus on friendship and the excitement of giving gifts!
Mini Merry Book: Gingerbread Joy by Julia Woolf is a tiny little book that my daughter loved when she was six months old. As expected it’s a super simple book about baking gingerbread houses and people as a treat at Christmas time. What my daughter loved were the shiny foil inserts in the already fun illustrations. She would smack them over and over with her chubby baby hands, and the text is simple enough my son could help read it to her when he was 4. All in all a perfect little stocking stuffer!
A Small Christmas by Wong Herbert Yee is about as perfect a Christmas book as my son could ever read. My son is obsessed with firefighters; he rescues his baby sister all day long, and the sound of sirens are pretty much a given day or night in our house. Fireman Small is a tiny firefighter that children immediately relate to because he is little. His heart is big though and so is his courage. In this installment, though it’s not a fire he rushes to Santa’s aid. Your child doesn’t need to be as nuts about firefighters as my son is to enjoy this sweet holiday book.