Design Mom’s Top 20 Christmas Books

December 5, 2011

In July, I put together my list of Top 50 Picture Books, and I purposely left holiday books off the list, because they definitely deserve some undivided attention. But the time has come. Tis the season to read holiday books around a cozy fire! A couple of notes before we dive in to the list:

-We only own one Hanukkah book, and I’ll be honest, it’s not a particularly good one. So I didn’t include any Hanukkah titles, but I’d love to hear your recommendations. Same goes for Kwanzaa. Or Winter Solstice. Or whatever it is you like to celebrate this time of year.

-Some of these books are good for older readers (even grown ups) and some for the littlest listeners. Some are religious and sentimental, others are completely secular. But altogether, I think they make a really good collection.

-I didn’t include much in the way of “character books” like Eloise at Christmastime or Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Ever, even though some are really good, because there are literally dozens and dozens. But if your kids have a favorite character or author, why not get the related holiday book?

-Lastly, I’m sure you have favorites that didn’t make my list — I may not even know about them! I hope you’ll include any of your picks in the comments.

Design Mom’s Top 20 Christmas Books, in alphabetical order:

- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

- A Child’s Christmas in Wales (If you can find this one as an audio book, you will especially love it!)

- The Christmas Alphabet (Actually, all of Robert Sabuda’s Christmas Popups are excellent.)

- A Christmas Carol (You can also try the Young Readers Edition or the Picture Book Edition)

- Christmas Day in the Morning


- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

- Corgiville Christmas

- Dream Snow

- Every Man Heart Lay Down

- The Gift of the Magi


- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

- The Night Before Christmas (There are lots of versions of this story. My favorites have vintage illustrations.)

- The Nutcracker (There are dozens of versions of this famous story too. You can pick one that you think your kids will especially like.)

- Olive, the Other Reindeer

- The Polar Express (I’m not a fan of the movie, but I adore the book. It’s even a Caldecott winner!)


- Santa Calls

- The Little Match Girl (I’m not gonna lie. This one will break your heart every single time.)

- The Snowy Day (Not holiday related, but a great winter time book that we like to keep with the Christmas titles!)

- The Twelve Days of Christmas

- Who is Coming to Our House?


P.S. — The jury’s still out on whether or not they’ll make my official list, but for 2011, three titles we’re trying are An Orange for Frankie, The Christmas Bus, and Flicka, Ricka, Dicka & Their New Skates.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 121 comments… read them below or add one }

1 heather at wordplayhouse® December 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

My favorite is a glimpse into simple past celebrations (which many have strayed very far from). We are reading Little House in the Big Woods aloud at bedtime (again). The children cherished their small parcel of simple gifts more than anything. For those not familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories, you are missing out on treasures—so grab one of them from your library.


2 Justine December 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm

These books left such an impression on me as a child that to this day I smile when I see a “Christmas orange” and think of how the Little House girls were thrilled to get a single piece of candy in their stocking. We have much to be thankful for. Thanks for reminding me!


3 Jessica December 5, 2011 at 9:26 am

My absolute favourite is called Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect.


4 Lynnette December 5, 2011 at 9:30 am

Johnathan Toomey is one of the best ever! Thank you for including it!


5 elizabeth December 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

we are doing the christmas book advent thing this year. and my kids are loving it. but i definitely need some different books for next year (i’m not loving a few of the ones i chose, or happened to already own). so thanks for the tips. so far, i think my kids’ favorite was snowmen at night. and i’m glad someone else thought a snowy day was a good choice. my kids haven’t opened it yet, and i don’t think they’ve ever read it so it should be a fun surprise.


6 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag December 5, 2011 at 9:47 am

I’ve got some off the beaten track ideas that you might enjoy Gabrielle! I did a Christmas book round up here:

Also, I just today did a post about Christmas gnomes and tomtes:

Happy December Holiday book reading!


7 Robyn December 5, 2011 at 9:48 am

We love lots of the ones on your list! The Nutcracker we have is by Susan Jeffers, and it’s great. Some others we love: Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera, The Great Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon, Wombat Divine by Mem Fox. Also, my kids always crack up at the comic-style Pigs at Christmas by Arlene Dubanevich; and we are partial to Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer.


8 Barchbo December 5, 2011 at 9:55 am

I LOVE Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka! I had that book, too. Are you also familiar with their male counterparts, Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr?

Cranberry Christmas is one of my favorites. And like Heather, the Little House in the Big Woods. I spent months trying to find horehound candy at my local drugstore. :)


9 Laura December 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

Oh….On Angel Wings, Michael Morpurgo…you’ll LOVE it.


10 Leslie Call December 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

With our houseful of boys (and their love of bugs/snakes/insects, etc), we LOVE the book “We Were There, A Nativity Story” by Eve Bunting.


11 Laura December 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

Oh and …Angela and the Baby Jesus, Frank McCourt xx


12 Corrie Anne December 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

Oh I love that. Always looking for new books for the nieces & nephews!


13 Megan S. December 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is pretty sweet. My mom buys us a Christmas book every year so i have quite a collection.


14 aimee @ smilingmama December 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

I can’t wait to check out a few of your favorites! One of our favorites is Humphrey’s First Christmas. The story is wonderful but the illustrations are AMAZING!


15 Jourdan December 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree! Although when I googled it, I learned that my copy is about a hundred years old, and they have since updated the cover. Still, though, a classic, complete with a full cast of anthropomorphic animals.

The book:

What mine looks like:'s+Christmas+Tree.jpg

P.S. Also, and I hope this isn’t weird, but I think I might have seen some of your family in church in Paris yesterday? It was kind of weird.


16 Jennifer December 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo!!!


17 Beth December 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thanks for your list! As I’ve been going through my Christmas books, I’ve realized that most of our Christmas books are about Santa, and that they have just magically accumulated. I have no idea where they all came from! Here’s to a conscious effort for worthwhile Christmas story accumulation :)


18 AmyB December 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

We love Olive the Other Reindeer! We have some great Hanukkah ones at home I will post later.

If you are Jewish and don’t know about PJ Library check them out. They send age appropriate books monthly for free to folks who are members of an affiliated Temple. Some are religious but some just have Jewish characters. All have been great.



19 Lola December 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

A lovely lot of choices (and I used your picture book list to choose some Christmas presents for my nephews, so thank you for that, too!).

I’d also recommend:
The Fourth Wise Man (unbelievably touching – I remember reading it for the first time and crying. It’s difficult to find now, as attested to be the extortionate price on UK Amazon, but you might have better luck on the US version or in some big American book stores.)

The Lion, The Unicorn and Me by Jeanette Winterson (a Nativity story, focusing on the donkey and how he was chosen above all the grander animals. It’s got a lovely message.)

Also, the UK Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has some Christmas poems in picture book form, and Another Night Before Christmas is especially great for children (a girl waits up to try and see Father Christmas – it’s all about the magic of the season. This edition has a stunning cover, too. The Christmas Truce would be great for older children as well, it’s about the famous, peaceful Christmas celebrations between German and British soldiers during WW2.)


20 Jan @ Family Bites December 5, 2011 at 11:12 am

My kids and I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever every.single.year. Love it….


21 Fiona December 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

I’ve been looking for a nicely illustrated story of the nativity, I see one mentioned in the comments (We were there; Eve Bunting) but does anyone know of any others, my children are under 5


22 Elisabeth December 5, 2011 at 11:15 am

Growing up my mother always bought new picture books for my brother and me, we have a massive collection. As an adult looking back Santa Claus and His Elves ( ) was and is my favorite. The illustrations are wonderful and so detailed and the story of how Norwegians celebrate Christmas north of the Artic Circle is very entertaining.


23 val December 5, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’m excited to try the books on your list we haven’t read :) My very favorite Christmas book is PEEF, the Christmas Bear by Tom Hegg. Several years ago when my kids were younger, my mother made each family a PEEF bear and gave it to us with the book on Christmas Eve. It’s one of the books we read every year! Love it!


24 Kristin December 5, 2011 at 11:16 am

Hands down, Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree.


25 jerilyn December 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

This is great, thank you! I always love a good holiday book guide and your recommendations are spot-on! :)


26 Erin December 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

We love An Orange for Frankie, and I totally wish someone had warned me about the number of tissues I would need prior to reading. Consider yourself warned! Another lovely story is The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt:


27 Kate December 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher – our copy was given to my brother in 1972.


28 Neda December 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Loving this list!


29 Erin December 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm

We really love the classic book, with new illustrations, A Pussycat’s Christmas. It captures the essence of anticipation and the feel of joy around the holiday. Love, love, love it!


30 Amy3 December 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

The Little Match Girl is such a sweet, sad story. I’m glad you included it here. I’m not sure everyone would.


31 Eleanor December 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I love “Santa’s Favorite Story”, where he shares the story of the first Christmas with a group of woodland animals. I also love “The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas” and “A Full House” by Madeleine L’Engle. (these are for older readers; not picture books) All of her books are wonderful!


32 elz December 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

“Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus”-gifted to my sister and I in 1976/1977 and read every Christmas Eve. It is sadly out of print, but is a rare treat. If you can find it, I think you will appreciate it-both for the message and the fun retro illustrations.


33 Pamela December 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Thank you for posting this wonderful list! I have been so looking forward to it as your Top 50 was so helpful in finding new titles to add to our library. I know you said you avoided listing “character” books as there are so many out there, but one of our family’s favorites is ‘Petunia’s Christmas.’ In this story, Petunia the goose shows us the meaning of Christmas by simply loving another with all her heart. Such a sweet, charming and hilarious tale! Here’s a link to it via amazon


34 Cathy December 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm

One of my all-time favorites is Christmas Memory by Truman Capote….it’ll make you cry!!!


35 Sarah December 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I’m a picky book reader as is my 3 y.o. boy. I put our holiday books away last year with the decorations and took them out again last week to include in our advent activities (a “new” book to open is one activity that reappears several times).
My own personal childhood favorite is “The Sweet Smell of Christmas,” with scratch and sniff stickers (oh the 80s!). It’s a sweet story too.
My boy does not like “A Snowy Day” because the boy gets sad over the melted snowball. :( He generally dislikes any sad scenes in books so that shouldn’t have surprised me. Oh well.
This year we added two new books we haven’t read yet, “The Very First Christmas,” a Hallmark recordable book that I asked my dad to read. “The Christmas Magic” is also new this year and the illustrations are beautiful. I’m not sold on the story of a lonely Santa without the hustle and bustle I picture for the North Pole, but am withholding judgement for now. I’m also about to order “Snowmen at Christmas.”
We also really like “Duck Skates” and “It’s Snowing!” by Olivier Dunrea and keep them with our holiday stuff since they are so wintery.


36 Nicole December 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

For our littlest readers, we read If you Take A Mouse To the Movies, over and over. They love popping corn on the stovetop and stringing up (whats left of it) popcorn.
Olive the other Reindeer is so cute! I love that one!
Loving the list! Keep them coming!!!


37 Wendy December 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is one of my favorite stories of all time … his description of their Christmas afternoon is what I imagine heaven is like.


38 Betsy Cutler December 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

So glad to see Dream Snow on there, it was one of our favorites. My son is 14 now, but I am gonna try to sneak it in one night. He is probably too cool for it. Just rolls his eyes at his silly mom.


39 Jen December 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm

We love the Auntie Clause stories by Elise Primavera, Who Will Guide my Sleigh Tonight by Jerry Pallotta, and an absolute must for nature lovers – Night Tree by Eve Bunting. It’s a beautiful book.

Thanks for all of the wonderful recommendations!


40 Susan T December 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm

We try to read a Christmas story every evening. Here are a few of our favorites:

Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day
Christmas City by Michael Garland
Bear Stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
The Friendly Beasts, an old Christmas Carol by Tomie dePaola
and from my childhood:
Jolly Old Santa Claus by George Hinke
and like others have mentioned, we also like:
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree and
Snowmen at Christmas


41 Christie December 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Love your list.


42 Beth Hoffman December 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Christmas in Exeter Street – by Diana Hendry, illustrated by John Lawrence.
A story about hospitality – the house is full to the rafters and there is even a baby sleeping in the kitchen sink. Funny and sweet and absurd and touching.

The Best Christmas Present in the World, Michael Morpurgo (Children’s Laureate, UK).
Your middle/older children would like this. It is about the English and German soldiers laying down their weapons and sharing and playing together in December, 1914. You may need a Kleenex at the end.

Fantastic books both…check them out.

I love the list and suggestions…I’m going to add some of the titles to our family’s collection.

Thank you!


43 becki December 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells is a favorite, and great for anyone who has been a younger sibling. It inspired my son’s 3-year-old Christmas wish list a few years ago. His “disappearing bag” is still one of his favorite things.


44 Ashley Shafer December 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm

What about Santa Mouse? We have loved that one for as long as I can remember and we always leave a piece of cheese for him along with Santa’s milk and cookies!


45 Em December 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm

LOVE Santa Mouse! And I always left him a piece of cheese as well! :)


46 Kelly December 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I love Santa Mouse, too! Also have the “sequel,” Where Are You, Santa Mouse?


47 Rachel December 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm

We read Christmas/Winter books every night starting Dec. 1. Our favorite author/illustrator is Jan Brett – She has beautifully detailed illustrations. Great coloring pages on her web site too.


48 Sharlene December 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Wow. There are hundreds of Christmas books. Even with our children grown and out of the nest, my husband and I still buy a new Christmas book each year and read it together. (some we share with the grandchildren) I love your list and one of my favorite from your list is *Christmas Day in the Morning.* The one I want to buy from your list this year is *Who is Coming to my House.* Looks like a great one for the grandchildren.

Two of my favorites are by Carolyn Lynn Pearson:
*The Modern Magi* and *A Stranger for Christmas*
I’ve shared these books with the old and the young. Classic! A beautiful Christmas message in each of them.


49 Sharlene December 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I forgot to mention one that was printed in 1954–I received it as a child (in 1954) and have kept it for all these years and now read it to my grandchildren. It was originally published in Family Circle Magazine.

*The Most Beautiful Tree in the World*

It’s about a family whose tree (from their yard) is chosen to be the Rockefella Center tree. Talks about their feelings of giving up their tree.


50 wendy December 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I love “Christmas Oranges”… just read it to my boys and cried… again.


51 Raquel December 5, 2011 at 3:58 pm

For Hannukah: The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket


52 julianna richman December 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

The best Christmas book we have is called I Believe in Santa Claus by Diane G. Adamson (you can get it on Amazon). My mom gave it to all us married kids one year and my oldest has it memorized by now. It goes thru all the attributes of Santa like ‘his hair is white, he comes in the night’ and then compares them to the Savior, ‘His hair is white, He came in the night’ It rhymes which makes it all the easier to memorize. It is darling! I highly recommend it!


53 suzanne December 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Julianna, I love that book! I found it a few years ago just as all my kids were hitting their teenage years. Bought copies for several other families at the same time. I just love it!


54 sylvia December 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

“Christmas Day In the Morning” by Pearl S. Buck.

Always makes me cry as I read it aloud to my kids.


55 sarah December 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm

i read flicka, ricka, and dicka growing up! also read about the triplet boys snip, snap, and snurr.
they are so cute and the pictures are awesome, and the kids are always doing sweet things.


56 Maria December 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

The Clown of God-Tomie DePaola
A beautiful story about a simple gift from the heart. I still get caught in the emotion of the end of the story and cry each time I read it aloud.


57 Justine December 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for such a great list. I can see we’ll be back to the library soon. This week we brought home “Christmas Farm,” which tells the story of Christmas trees being grown to be sold. It’s wonderful.

Last week we got some great books to introduce the nativity to my three-year-old. Both books have beautiful illustrations. I blogged about them “a href=””>here.


58 Jen December 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm

One of my favorite Hanukkah books that I remember from elementary school, and that I now read to my own 3rd grade class every year, is “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblin.”

It has a cute/funny story line, but still teaches about some Hanukkah traditions, such as the dreidle game.


59 Rebecca December 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I love your suggestions. we share a few Australian themes picture books with my little one. they do have talking animals and i believe some people are not a fan of this, but our little ones loves it.


60 R. Pyper December 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I clicked on this post just to make sure you got Jonathan Toomey on there — it’s a heartbreaker for sure but a total delight. :) The Little Match Girl is another one I love.


61 Maren December 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I love books! A new tradition we have started is reading “The Legend of the Reindeer Shoes” to our kids every Christmas. It is by a local author and you can order reindeer shoes (similar to horse shoes) to make tracks in the snow. The kids love it!


62 julia fain December 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Song of the Stars.. I bought it for my niece but am tempted to keep it! Its the nativity story told from the perspective of the animals. And of course the classic Night Before Christmas…


63 vanessa @ silly eagle books December 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

We really love the vintage Random House Pop up version of the Night Before Christmas. The illustrations are fantastic.

Thanks for sharing your favorites–there’s a few we haven’t read yet.


64 Laura December 5, 2011 at 6:57 pm

The Red Ranger Came Calling


65 Rebecca Grace December 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I was all ready to add our favorites in a comment, but you got pretty much all of them! We also love the Polar Express and consider Snowy Day a holiday season must-read, as well as Eric Carle’s Dream Snow. And Jan Brett’s Twelve Days of Christmas? I love ALL of her books; the illustrations captivate adults and children alike even after the hundredth reading. I think we have every book she’s ever published, from the Little Red Hen to her Gingerbread Baby and Mitten stories.

Joyeux Noel to you and your family, Gabrielle!


66 Angela December 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm

A couple of our favorites:
Through the Animals Eyes…the woodcuts are just gorgeous.
St. Nicholas….a historical account of St. Nicholas of Myra.
And if you can find a used copy of this one, it is a fun alphabet Advent book:
Christmas A to Z : fun facts for kids


67 nora December 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I am a kid at heart and cant get enough Santa santa santa. Attention Moms, Dads & grandparents alike .. you’ve got to try this site!
Catch Santa in your home. Insert a picture of your festive house, add one of the website’s many-many Santa poses. Results are a perfect image of St.Nick stuffing your kids stockings. Christmas magic!! Try it out!


68 Kismet December 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

What a great list, and I could come up with twenty more that I love! But here are just a few of the ones that stand out:

“The Night The Stars Sang” this should be mandatory reading for every family at the holidays, it is a compilation of short stories, poems, and songs about the holidays. If you can’t find the book (it might not be in print any more) you should at least look up the following stories on the internet- I’m pretty sure you could find them and they are WONDERFUL. “Trouble at the Inn”, “the man who missed Christmas”, and “The miraculous staircase”

“The Story of Holly and Ivy” a really charming long (my family usually splits it up over two-three nights) illustrated children’s book- illustrated by one of my absolute favorite illustrators, Barbara Cooney (she also did Miss Rumphius, Island Boy, Basket Moon- to name a few). It is about a little Orphan girl and a little doll who both believe in the power of wishing.

I saw someone already mentioned Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins- a really fun Hanukkah story.

Auntie Claus- the story of Santa’s mysterious and fabulous sister who lives in a NYC pent house apartment, and her precocious niece…another gem with GREAT illustrations.

I love any Jan Brett book, and most are set in a wintery scape appropriate for Christmas.

Finally is the “Autobiography of Santa Claus” this is a chapter book, but it is fun because it has twenty four chapters and so one chapter can be read a night leading up to Christmas Eve. It starts with the actual life of St. Nicholas and charts his magical journey through time and the world. You learn how he meets Mrs. Claus, and picks up other interesting characters along the way, including none-other than Atila the Hun!

Well I may have gone a little over board in my own Christmas book list, but it is something that truly brings me so much joy!

Thanks, and Happy Holidays!


69 Kelly December 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I was looking down this long list, to see if anyone else mentioned “The Story Of Holly & Ivy.” My absolute favorite; I loved it as a child and get choked up reading it out loud to my own children.


70 kismet December 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I always get choked up too! I have to admit, I still consider myself to be on the child side of the equation (I’m a senior in college and always home for the holidays) but I love that my family of six adult kids (and my very mature teenage sister) will still read these same classic every year!


71 Lynda December 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

“Dance in the Desert” by Madeleine L’Engle is an all time favourite of our family. It tells the story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ flight to Egypt in beautiful ochre and blue tint drawings. It takes you into a night in the desert when all the animals come to worship this toddler, and how he adores them. It is Madeleine at her most poetic and a subtle story that conveys adoration and wonder.
It is illustrated by Simeon Shymin


72 Kaila Lifferth December 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm

you should check out _Emma’s Christmas_. It’s a retelling of the song “The 12 days of Christmas.” It’s one of our family favorites (currently out of print so find it on Amazon or at the library)


73 Sally December 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm

A Day on Skates; the Story of a Dutch Picnic takes several nights to read, but we love love love it. Maybe similar to Snipp Snapp Snurr? It’s set in Holland about a century ago, and is such a great opportunity to experience life in another culture, time, and country. It’s also a Newbery Honor Book!
Also, A Christmas Dress for Ellen by Thomas S. Monson. I can’t even get close to it without tearing up.


74 katik December 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I loved your list and would add Jan Brett’s The Mitten, Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston & Barbara Cooney.


75 Barb December 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
A wonderful book to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, it recalls a very special memory from the author’s childhood. This is one of my favorite Patricia Polacco books, sure to warm the hearts of both young and old! The illustrations are lovely too.


76 sarah December 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I LOVE “This is the Star” by Joyce Dunbar ( The illustrations are incredible.


77 Laura December 6, 2011 at 3:41 am

Sarah…my children pick this one often xx


78 Katie December 5, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Awesome. Thanks for the Night Before Christmas recommendation. I just ordered 9 new Christmas books, but couldn’t find a Night Before Christmas book that I loved. I think yours is the one. I love that Amazon let me look at some of the pages.

As a kids, my family would always read The First Christmas: with text from King James version and illustrated by Jan Pienkowski, and Twas the Night Before Christmas. I love Christmas books!


79 Mary December 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Great list! I’ve learned that no matter the Christmas book, they are made twice as exciting by wrapping them. When taking down Christmas the year before, I (or a sitter) quickly wraps all the Christmas books. Then when unloading Christmas decor the following Dec., there is a stack of presents ready to be placed under the tree. The kids take turns opening 1 or 2 a night all December long. They NEVER forget, so we make sure and read stories around the tree every single night- even on the crazy nights. This is my favorite Christmas tradition.


80 Shannon December 5, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Love the list.

One of my new to me favorite’s, that I received as a gift 2 years ago, is The Christmas Giant by Steve Light. You will LOVE it!
A great book about friendship and pretty paper :)


81 Erin McDonald December 5, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Great list! Every Man Heart Lay Down is a new one to me that I’d like to check out. I also really like Peter Spier’s Christmas! I still love taking in all the little details, it really gets me in a good mindset about Christmas.


82 Stephanie F December 6, 2011 at 1:10 am

I second others in recommending the Tree of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polocco, the Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon, Wombat Divine by Mem Fox, and Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera.

I also think you HAVE to check out Santa Claus The World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee. I can’t believe that no one has mentioned it yet. It’s one of my very favorites! I also love The First Night by B. G. Hennessy for a simple version of the nativity. And let’s not forget that Sarah Jane Wright, who I know you love has illustrated a new picture book, A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck.

Happy reading!!!


83 Tara December 6, 2011 at 2:27 am

I didn’t see our current favorites as I scanned the comments–there are two that have done a great job of conveying the meaning of Christ’s birth in a small-child-friendly way, and my two-year old boys really like them! Room for a Little One (which I found nice but somewhat boring, but my boys seem to LOVE the illustrations of the animals, and the more I read the story, the more its simple message grows on me) and Mortimer’s Christmas Manger.


84 Lori December 6, 2011 at 5:43 am

Oh, I love Christmas Day in the Morning too. Makes me cry every. single. time.


85 se7en December 6, 2011 at 6:31 am

Ha, never thought of doing a Christmas book post!!! Our books are scattered through our Christmas posts…
So here you go: One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham (
The story of a young boy who gets caught up in a wintry storm and takes shelter in the home of a lovely old lady who tells hime the story of Jesus from Adam and Eve… all the while plying him with hot chocolate – lovely!!!
The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean ( It is the story of a grumpy carpenter that is carving a jess tree day by day until Christmas… pestered by a small boy who wants to know more… as the story progresses so he pesters less and the old man gets less grumpy!!!
We love the Christmas Carol, illistrated by Quentin Blake – just such a beautiful book!!! Love it!!!!


86 Colleen December 6, 2011 at 7:07 am

Two I would highly recommend are Papa Panov’s Special Day by Leo Tolstoy and The Last Straw by Fredrick H Thury, both beautiful Christmas stories. Thank you for a wonderful list to add to mine.


87 Alie December 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

One of our favorites is Snowmen at Night. Those snowmen do some crazy things when we’re asleep!


88 Kristen E December 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

I love that you have The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on your list! I gave my old copy to my nephews and they’re reading it right now. :) My very, very favorite Christmas book as a child was The Doll’s Christmas by Tasha Tudor. It’s about these girls who put on a huge Christmas party for their dolls and their friends with dolls – everything is miniature size, and the boys in the family serve the girls at dinner, and it’s just as sweet as can be. :)


89 SY December 6, 2011 at 10:02 am

We love Allen Say’s Tree of Cranes. A story of a Japanese mother sharing bit of Christmas with her small boy. We read it all year.


90 Ellen Frank December 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

Thanks for asking about Hanukkah books! I’d love to tell you about my favorites. First off, anything by Eric Kimmel is worth checking out. But more specifically:
My first favorite is Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, by Kimmel
Next is The Trees of the Dancing Goats, by Patricia Polacco.
Another is A Hnukkah Treasury, edited by Eric Kimmel
The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser
Celebrate Hanukkah by the National Geographic Society
Two with more serious themes are:
The Tie Man’s Miracle by Steven Schnur, about a Holocaust survivor
The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohn, a true story about a town in Montana that fought against religious hatred


91 julia December 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Gabby! Living in France you MUST read The Family Under the Bridge this Christmas! It’s about a homeless family under a bridge near the Seinne River. So beautiful, my whole family loves it. Merry Christmas!


92 Holly brain December 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

You definitely need “mr willowby’s Christmas tree” and “the nativity” by Julie vivas, both are must haves!


93 Sarah December 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

One of my faves, not listed by anyone else is Tolkiens “Letters to Father Christmas” . Its a collection of letters that Tolkien left his children each year, supposedly from Santa. For older kids, but I loved it growing up and my 7yo just read some of them last night and loved it.


94 Sarah December 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Sorry, typing too fast …. “Letters from Father Christmas”.


95 Kelly December 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Already replied up there about loving The Story of Holly & Ivy, by Rumer Godden. That’s my absolute favorite. Also, for older children who love Harry Potter and fantasy, I highly recommend “The Dark Is Rising,” by Susan Cooper. It’s a series of volumes, but the actual “Dark Is Rising” book takes place on Christmas Eve, and is just wonderful — about the forces of good (light) vs. evil (dark). I plan to read it this season with my 9 year old, if I can find my original copy somewhere. (Also, it’s clear this series had some influence on J.K. Rowling!)


96 Lindsay December 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

My favorite is “The Story of Holly and Ivy.” Such a sweet story.


97 Becca December 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Hannukah and Christmas and so very much holiday spirit: the Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco (everything she writes is magic, also try The Keeping Quilt, and Pink and Say).


98 Cathy December 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Pink and Say is one of my all-time favorites to read aloud to middle school students! The only problem is I cannot make it through the book without bawling….but it makes a big impression on hard-to-impress tweens!


99 Tonya December 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I love to read “The Crippled Lamb” by Max Lucado. Beautiful illustrations as well as a touching story.


100 kelleynr December 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Have you ever read the holiday story called Holly and Ivy? It is out of print, but you can find it. The story will have you sobbing.


101 Jennifer December 8, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Do you mean The Story of Holly and Ivy? Because that is one of my favorites! It is available through Amazon.


102 Megan Ashman December 7, 2011 at 2:32 am

I love “The Jolly Christmas Postman”! It’s fun and interactive.


103 Becca December 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I’m also doing a Christmas book advent. My kids are 4-and-a-half and nearly-3, so our choices are simple picture books and even a couple of board books. This year we added Every Man Heart Lay Down (on your recommendation last year) and a Robert Sabuda book to our collection. I’ve also picked up several at the library. Last night we read Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers, by Andrew Clement. My kids enjoyed it, and I loved it! We are reading A Night Without Darkness on Christmas Eve. Are you familiar with it?


104 Lisa December 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm

A new favorite of ours this year is Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo. A winter book that is a favorite (not Christmas though) of my 3 year old, is The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle Von Olfers. A winter favorite of mine is White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt.


105 mandolin December 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I was hoping to get some help. I used to read this Christmas bok when i was a kid and cannot remember the name, or find it. It was about a little elf that lived with santa. And i remember at towards the end he was super happy in santas pocket with his whistle (ithink it was made of thistle). It is not: the pocket elf, elf on the shelf, or the tiny elf. Ive already checked them out to no avail. I was really hoping someonehere might know as everyone in my family remembers the book but not the name :(

Thank you so much for your help!!!


106 Colleen December 8, 2011 at 6:28 am

I have already left a comment but have remembered a few others I would love people to read and enjoy. The Silver Donkey by Sylvia Hartnett, The Trees Kneel At Christmas by Maud Hart Lovelace and The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell.
Charles Tazewell also wrote The Small One and if there is an opportunity for you to listen to an old record of both these stories told by Loretta Young and Bing Crosby then make sure you do – absolutely beautiful. Another story which is perfect in every way is Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and though not a Christmas Story, his perfect story The Selfish Giant, unfortunately now only available in paperback.


107 Meggan December 8, 2011 at 7:42 am

“The Father Christmas Letters” by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s the collection of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his children from the time his oldest was just a few years old. It is the replies to the letters they wrote to Father Christmas. It includes illustrations, stories from the Polar Bear (who was always trying to help Santa, but seemed to end up bungling things) explanations of how the bad black goblins were trying to steal the presents, etc. It also shows the envelopes and stamps he would create. It’s amazing and one of my favorite Christmas books.


108 CMN December 8, 2011 at 11:16 am

If you’re not too tapped out on this conversation yet? :)

Just want to chime in with a few more favorites…
** The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell (I always get choked up when reading it aloud. Such a sweet and tender story!)
** Letters from Father Christmas, by J.R.R. Tolkein (I LOVE LOVE LOVE the concept, imagination, and sheer magic of the letters Tolkein wrote for his children)
** Auntie Claus, by Elise Primavera (In my secret dreams, I AM Auntie Claus. So charming)
** The Animals’ Merry Christmas, by Richard Scarry (As a child, I loved the detail and imagination of these illustrations)
** The Christmas Witch, by Steven Kellogg (Another book that entranced me as a child because of fantastical illustrations)


109 Jennifer December 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Love, love, love “Who is Coming to Our House.”

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, by Gloria Houston, is another favorite.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: