The Best Christmas Books for Kids
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A great way to feel the magic of Christmas around you is to snuggle up with a good book by the fire, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the best Christmas books for kids. Settle down together and get into the holiday spirit while enjoying beautiful illustrations and lovely tales with the option to choose paperback or board books depending on your child’s age.
Come together to create a new tradition and save each book for year after year. Before you know it your child will be reciting the stories back to you from memory.
We’re sure you’ll find something for everyone, young and old, with this extensive list including some of our favorite classics of all time.
Our Tops Picks
- Best Classic Seuss Book - How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Best Authentic Folktale Book - Letters From Father Christmas
- Best Lift the Flap Book - Dream Snow
- Best Caldecott Award Book - The Snowy Day
- Best Story of Hope - A Christmas Wish for Corduroy
- Best Story about Sharing - Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
- Best Classic Holiday Story - The Polar Express
- Best Book for Ballet Lovers - The Nutcracker
- Best Story for Listening - The Christmas Quiet Book
- Best Christmas Book with a Lesson - The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving
- Best Interactive Christmas Book - The Jolly Christmas Postman
- Best Nativity Story Book - Christmas in the Manger
- Best Story About Giving - Bear Stays Up For Christmas
- Best Funny Christmas Book - The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
- Best Mexican Legend Story - The Legend of the Pointsettia
- New York Times Bestseller - The Night Before Christmas
- Best Fantasy Christmas Book - The Gingerbread Man
- Best Toddler Book - Llama Llama Holiday Drama
- Best Christian Classic - A Christmas Carol
- Best Counting Book - Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
- Best Rhyming Christmas Book - Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
- Best Little Golden Book - Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
- Best Wordless Book - The Snowman
- Best Board Book - Santa’s Cookie is Missing!
- Best Early Reader Christmas Book - All the Colors of Christmas
- Best Christmas Activity Book - The Crayon’s Christmas
- Best Emotions Book - The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish
- Best Christmas Manners Book - It’s Christmas, David!
- Best Family Christmas Book - The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree
- The Best Illustrations - The Wild Christmas Reindeer
What to Consider When Purchasing Christmas Books for Kids
- Book Material - Do you have a young toddler who would do better with a sturdy board book? Many classic stories also come in board book format. Avoid giving paper pages to younger children if you want your book to last longer than one season.
- Don’t assume they will love the same books you did, some of the older books have language that is very different from what children are used to and may be difficult for younger readers to interpret. It’s a great idea to mix some of the classics in with some of the newer books with their current favorite characters.
- Religious Content- Many Christmas stories are rooted in religious affiliation, depending on your family dynamic, determine whether this is appropriate for your family. (Here are our favorite holiday books for all faiths.)
Author: Dr. Seuss
A classic story all about how the Christmas spirit can change a person with the whimsical undertones Dr. Seuss is known for. The Grinch is a recognizable character and the flowing rhymes will engage and entertain young readers. How the Grinch Stole Christmas touches on so many holiday traditions and special symbols and the underlying lesson is a great one to share as you head into the holiday season.
“I love Dr Suess and I am pleased that both of my kids are starting to as well. This is an absolute classic for Christmas, and manages to get across ideas about what is really important about the holidays in a brief and concise manner, whilst being funny, visually exciting, and easily understandable.”
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
This book is a collection of 24 years worth of letters author J.R.R Tolkien sent to his children as they were growing up from the perspective of Father Christmas, or other characters from the North Pole. They tell enchanting stories of mischief and fun and are scripted in beautiful calligraphy.
“So interesting to know Tolkien wrote these letters for his own children. Got this for my son and his young family. He’s starting a tradition of reading one letter a day starting the beginning of December as his kids countdown to Christmas.”
Author: Eric Carle
Choose from hardcover or board book versions for a sturdy story with flaps that little fingers can lift. Toddlers will be delighted by the illustrated animals hiding under a blanket of snow as they uncover each flap. Eric Carle’s trademark pictures accompany a simple story that will appeal to younger children.
“My favorite Christmas gift for new babies. Board book has beautiful illustrations and texture.”
Author: Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day is a classic story all about the magic of the first snowfall and how it can create a new world for children to discover and explore. Your family will enjoy snuggling up on a cold day and getting into the winter spirit with this lovely tale of adventure and enchantment.
“My 2 year old loves this story. She knows it by heart. And often recalls a lot of the book during the day while she plays in the snow or sand. Often say, " I'm making tracks like Peter ". Combining this with the snowy day movie adds a little more detail to the story. And our daughter loves both. So happy we came across this book. I feel like it's opened up her world or imagination.”
Author: B.G. Hennessy
A classic story that follows a beloved character, Corduroy, through his travels to the North Pole as he searches for answers on how to find a home for Christmas. Corduroy is the perfect example of perseverance and having never-ending hope. If your child enjoys this story, there are many other Corduroy classics that you can add to your library as well.
“Wonderful, precious story that comes full circle at the end, it's a beautiful book, just like all of Don Freeman's work.”
Author: Robert Barry
This is a delightful story all about how one tree can bring joy to so many. It starts with Mr. Willowby, who finds that his Christmas tree is just a little bit too tall. The snipped-off top gets passed from character to character who keeps trimming just a little bit off the top to create a new tree for the next recipient.
It is a cute story about sharing with others when you have more than enough, and the beautiful illustrations accompanying the story are just as lovely.
“This is my absolute favorite children's Christmas book. My parents had us in a Weekly Reader Book Club back in the sixties, and my family first got a copy of this back then. Still have the original book in my possession but have purchased this for gifts and such. I still love bringing this out at the holidays and reading it for my own pleasure. Sweet story of not being wasteful and sharing. Delightful story and equally delightful illustrations. If you're looking for a holiday book for a child, you can't go wrong with this book.”
Author: Chris Van Allsburg
The Polar Express won the 1986 Caldecott Medal for best illustrations. It's the tale of a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve who gets to take a trip to the North Pole with Santa Claus and some other lucky children. There is a special surprise for him when he gets to the North Pole.
“This was one of my favorite books growing up. I was shocked when I learned that my best friend had never read it and therefore her son knew nothing of it either. I clearly had to put a stop to this madness and buy it for them. The artwork is just as stunning as I remember and the story is just as magical. I honestly didn't even realize that it came with an ornament which is an absolutely beautiful bonus.“
Author: E.T.A Hoffman
This is Hoffmann's original story, written in 1816, adapted by the New York City Ballet. A nutcracker comes to life, battles with the evil mouse king, then takes Marie, the girl who tended to his wounds, on a tour of Christmas Wood and Candytown. Her love breaks the spell over him, which leads to the happily ever after. The adorable pictures that illustrate this copy will engage and enchant even the littlest ballet lovers.
“Beautiful illustrations and tells the story very well. We got the book in anticipation of seeing the ballet around Christmas, and it made my daughter very excited to see the show. The language is rich but simple, and I even got distracted looking at the beautiful scenes drawn across each page.”
Author: Deborah Underwood
This story is all about stopping to listen to the soft and quiet sounds of Christmas. Follow along with adorable little animals as they quietly search for presents, turn on Christmas lights, play in the snow and participate in other fun winter and Christmas activities. It is a great reminder for children to slow down and listen for all the wonderful Christmas sounds that the season brings.
“This book (and the other in the series) are downright adorable. I actually laughed out loud at a couple of the pages, but there are also little bits that are sweet and others that are nostalgic. Little ones love the pictures, which are amazing works of art in their own right, and the book is just long enough for a bedtime story but not too long (if you know what I mean). We own the entire set, and our little one goes and gets them for story time more often than any other books. Awesome!”
Author: Jan Berenstain
As with all Berenstain Bears books there are lessons through, the main one in this story is that there is more to Christmas than just receiving gifts, the true joy of the season comes with giving. Your children may be able to relate to Brother and Sister Bear as they follow along on their adventure starting at the Christmas Eve Pageant.
“This book was wonderful! My class truly loved it! The story is about the true meaning of Christmas and it is brought down to the children's level. They were glued to the book! I would definitely recommend this book!”
Author: Allan Ahlberg
In a world that is filled with technology and email, kids may not see as many handwritten letters arrive in the mail. They will delight in being able to take out each individual letter throughout this book and read a message from each character delivered by the friendly postman.
“A great hardcover Christmas book that is more than a reader. Many opportunities for a child to find inserts that are in envelopes which follow along with the story. A great “tactile” book for generations of kids who live in this electronic age.”
Author: Nola Book
This is a classic story of the first Christmas illustrating the wonder of the Nativity for children. Beautiful pictures are accompanied by simple text, making this a great choice for young children or new readers.
“This is a wonderful book that tells the Christmas story by introducing each character in a way appealing to babies or toddlers. My son enjoyed the book as an infant, particularly reacting to the drawings of the animals, and still likes it as a toddler. Also, the star is printed in foil, which is also appealing. The text rhymes, but not in an annoying or awkward way. I was looking for a simple, but complete account of the Christmas story with child-friendly artwork. This is it!”
Author: Karma Wilson
Bear gets very sleepy every winter when he is preparing to hibernate. Can all his friends in the forest help him stay awake for the magic of Christmas? Bear will discover that the joy of giving is worth staying awake for.
“My little girl and I absolutely adore Bear and his friends. We have read every Bear book and this one didn't disappoint. I personally love the ebb and flow of the story. I love reading these books out loud. For this book in particular I love that Bears friends want to share Christmas with him and how they all work together to keep him awake. I love the idea of Bear and his friends making the presents. This book feels like how Christmas is supposed to be.”
Author: Barbara Robinson
Get ready for nonstop laughs with this Christmas classic following the Herdman siblings as they take over the Christmas Pageant. Known as “the worst kids in the history of the world”, you know they will be up to no good. This is a short chapter book and geared towards readers 8+.
“Such a great- put a lump in your throat kind of story about real kids, with real flaws, learning to understand that maybe the mean kids are mean for a reason. And maybe the meaning of Christmas isn’t all pretty and perfect and wrapped in a bow. It shows kids can develop empathy on their own, without ring “told to!” A great Christmas message, I read it every year, and cry every year since I discovered this book. It’s also very funny. My kids loved it and I love giving it as a gift. Adults and kids love it! Good for 8 years and up.”
Author: Tommy dePaola
Tomi dePaola's retelling of a Mexican legend about the first poinsettias (called flores de la Nochebuena, or flowers of the Holy Night, in Mexico) combines rich artwork with a timeless story. A little girl named Lucida worries that she has no gift to offer the Baby Jesus other than an armful of weeds she has gathered. But when something miraculous happens to the weeds, she learns that the best gifts come from the heart.
“My 3 year old grandson loves this book! It is a long book for age 3; however, he will sit through the whole reading and still want to read it again. Of course, with Tomie de Paola, the story is heartwarming and the illustrations are beautiful!”
Author: Clement C. Moore
First published as an anonymous poem in a New York Newspaper, The Night Before Christmas has become a classic that is read far and wide. This story will encapture the hearts of readers, and listeners young and old, and is a timeless classic that would make a perfect Christmas Eve tradition.
“This is the definitive edition of "The Night Before Christmas" with all the beautiful artwork you'd come to expect for a timeless classic. I purchased this book for Christmas to read for my family and we all enjoyed turning the large pages, admiring the gorgeous illustrations, and unfolding the massive four-page fold out at the center of the story. The inside cover of this book includes a large blank space that reads, "This Book Belongs To", which is the perfect place to write a child's or family name.”
Author: Gail Yerrill
The Gingerbread Man is the whimsical tale of a gingerbread man who comes to life and has to outrun all of the characters who want to take a bite out of him! Will he be able to dodge the hungry people and animals? Children will enjoy chanting “Run, Run as fast as you can…” throughout the story as the Gingerbread Man continues to escape.
“This was supposed to be a Christmas Eve surprise for my kids but I couldn’t wait. We read it every night. It has become their favorite book.”
Author: Anna Dewdney
Follow along with our favorite Llama Llama character and the whimsical rhyming lyrics. This is a short and sweet book, perfect for babies and toddlers or beginner readers. It’s hard to wait, but Llama Llama makes it fun for little ones.
“We love our llama llama books. Always a good lesson to be learned in a sing-song rhyme. My youngest daughter can remember the words and read it to herself.”
Author: Charles Dickens
Perhaps one of the best Christmas classics, Charles Dickens tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Geared towards older readers, this is a great literary classic that spins the Christian tale of giving with love.
“There's no secret as to why this book has become a classic. The writing is beautiful and sucks you into a world filled with holiday cheer. Scrooge is as nasty as ever, but Dickens knows how to make you root for the character in the end. And each ghost has a mind of its own. Very much worth any price set on it, especially this copy, which is nice and small. A quick read for a good fuzzy feeling of holiday cheer!”
Author: Alice Schertle
Count along with all the Christmas trees Little Blue delivers to his friends this Christmas. This is a simple, easy story that is engaging and perfect for babies and toddlers, and we love the extra element of encouraging counting.
“My son loves his Little Book Truck book, so it was a given that we were going to grab the Christmas book. We literally got this book 20 minutes ago and my son (20 months) is over the moon! He absolutely loves the light up Christmas tree. The story is so well done (from a child and adult perspective) with a simple 1-5 counting aspect to the book. Since my son is counting 1 through 3, this is especially important to us in our current educational practice.”
Author: Eric Litwin
Pete the cat is a well known “groovy” blue cat. Follow along in his silly antics with this rhyming take on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas where Pete saves the day! If your children like Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, they can also check out Pete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of Christmas.
“Another wonderful Pete the Cat storybook. He is my classroom's favorite read aloud.
I love his joyful outlook on everyday events. And so do the children. We repeat his insightful words daily.”
Author: Rick Bunsen
Based on the holiday TV special, little children will enjoy this Little Golden Book take on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a sweet book with the underlying lessons of including those who are different, and the idea that everyone has something special to offer no matter how they appear.
“Another classic Christmas story! My grandson loves to read these when we can’t watch the actual movie. Brings back memories for me and I’m glad to share with him.”
Author: Raymond Briggs
Wordless books are a great option for allowing children to use their imagination and really interpret illustrations. This is a wonderful story for readers of all ages that allows your children to picture their way through the story and tell their own tale.
“I remember watching the movie short that aired on tv. I only recently came across the book after getting the movie short on dvd. This is a fun book that all kids will like. There are no words to read on the book. It is all pictures. The art work for the book is great. The story might not have words but that is what I think it is great about it because you are able to follow the story with no problems. My son really likes the book and loves the art work too. “
Illustrator: Anne Passchier
This sturdy board book is bright and colorful and has die-cut circles in the middle that expand as you flip each page. Help find out who stole Santa’s cookie! This is a great board book for babies and toddlers.
“My child loves this book and loves turning the pages with the circle in the middle.”
Author: Matthew Paul Turner
This is a lovely poem-based story highlighting all the various colors that come along with Christmas. It’s an excellent choice for new readers who can reinforce their understanding of color words as they follow along in sing-songy lyric type poems.
“With the intentional prose and beautiful illustrations, MPT and Gillian Gamble have gifted us with a Christmas book that is genuinely inspiring! Building the story using color as the main outline kept my eyes moving across every page; I often focus too much on just reading the words, but this book is a treasure for the eyes and the ears.”
Author: Drew Daywalt
If you’re a fan of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, then you will love The Crayons’ Christmas. It makes a wonderful addition to the series, and includes letter-style envelopes with various games and activities inside. Children will be excited each time they get to open an envelope and discover what’s inside.
“We love all of the Crayon books and this one doesn't disappoint. This one is written in letter style as well, but each letter also has extras. Stickers, pop out characters. Etc. It's cute! My 3 year old son REALLY liked it when he got it Christmas Eve! We will definitely be reading it all year round, not just at Christmastime.”
Author: Deborah Diesen
Mr. Fish is known for being mopey, but he learns an important lesson in this book all about giving at Christmas time. Follow along as he searches for the perfect gift for each of his friends all the while learning the true meaning of Christmas.
“Great book to add to the Christmas bag of books! We like to read a Christmas story every night before Christmas, this one turned out to be one of my kids' new favorites! They love the pout-pout series and this actually has a good reminder that Christmas is not about the presents we buy! Who doesn't want their kids to be reminded of that!?”
Author: David Shannon
If you’re a fan of the No, David! books, then this is a great Christmas option. David is his naughty self as he participates in Christmas activities. Perhaps your children can relate to his mischievous ways!
“David Shannon is a genius. As a Kindergarten teacher, my kiddos are always engaged with his materials and enjoy reading the books over and over again. It's Christmas, David is quite similar to No, David, but the class found it to be enjoyable for exactly that reason. It's familiar but introduces new concepts. By the end of the holiday season, our class has usually committed it to memory.“
Author: Gloria Houston
This is a lovely story based in Appalachian culture during the Civil War. It is a story of how a a family comes together with love and courage. Parents reading the story will find it heartwarming and truthful.
“This is my hands down favorite Christmas book, and I am a Montessori teacher with a LOVE of children's books! I love Barbara Cooney, the story, the veracity, and the message. If you like learning what holidays were like before we all had credit cards...set in Appalachia, in the 20s.”
Author: Jan Brett
Author Illustrator Jan Brett is known for her wonderful illustrations that keep children searching each page and making predictions about the story. This cute Christmas story is all about getting the reindeer ready for Christmas Eve and the power of kindness.
“Jan Brett’s illustrations are why I buy these books for my grandchildren. Her characters, borders and costuming are astonishingly correct.”