It’s that magical time of year again: The weather outside grows colder, bright lights start twinkling in the trees, and the little people in our life grow ever more impatient for the coming of Santa Claus. What better way to celebrate the holiday season than by cuddling up with our children and reading these wonderful Christmas books for kids? From the story of the nutcracker to the significance of the poinsettia, the books on this list include not only the traditional favorites, but also some great modern additions from series such as Pete the Cat and Junie B. Jones. Whether old or new, each of these Christmas books for kids holds a powerful story with a valuable lesson. Check out the list below, comeplete with publishers’ descriptions included.
The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
In the tradition of The Snowman and The Polar Express, this cozy Nordic tale filled with extraordinary photographs will have readers of all ages dreaming of magical places where wintry wishes come true.
Long ago, a little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. Since she lives somewhat near the North Pole, she thinks about it quite often. One holiday season, she decides to do something about it. So she tidies up her home, straps on her snowshoes, and heads out into the snowy landscape. Enlisting the help of some woodland friends on her wonder-filled journey, Anja makes her way to Santa to see if he might grant her this special Christmas wish.
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
Celebrate Christmas with Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang in this gorgeous retelling of the beloved Christmas special!
Christmas is almost here, which means ice-skating, Christmas carols, and sparkly lights everywhere–even on Snoopy’s doghouse! Everyone is enjoying the holiday celebrations except Charlie Brown. Can the Peanuts gang help Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas?
The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow and James Ransome
This jazz-inspired reinvention of The Nutcracker is a worthy tribute to the dreamlike wonder and magic of the Christmas season.
In this original retelling, set in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, one little girl finds her voice as a musician thanks to her enchanting adventures with a magical toy.
This quintessential holiday tale is brought to vivid life by debut picture book author T. E. McMorrow and Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator James Ransome. An author’s note at the end provides additional information about the history of the Harlem Renaissance, and about the author’s inspiration for this musical retelling.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
The ultimate Dr. Seuss Christmas classic–no holiday season is complete without the Grinch, Max, Cindy-Lou, and all the residents of Who-ville!
“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot…but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!” Not since “’Twas the night before Christmas” has the beginning of a Christmas tale been so instantly recognizable. This heartwarming story about the effects of the Christmas spirit will grow even the coldest and smallest of hearts. Like mistletoe, candy canes, and caroling, the Grinch is a mainstay of the holidays, and his story is the perfect gift for young and old.
And don’t forget to celebrate Grinch-mas this Christmas season, the annual holiday tradition inspired by How the Grinch Stole Christmas that encourages readers to grow their hearts three sizes by doing good deeds!
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuenao flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside.
This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. Beloved Newbery honor-winning author and Caldecott honor-winning illustrator Tomie dePaola has embraced the legend using his own special feeling for Christmas. His glorious paintings capture not only the brilliant colors of Mexico and its art, but also the excitement of the children preparing for Christmas and the hope of Lucida, who comes to see what makes a gift truly beautiful.
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Little Blue Truck is spreading cheer by delivering Christmas trees to his animal friends. Can you help count each green tree from one to five and back again? Don’t forget to save one for Blue! Beep! Beep!
With the gentle rhythm and signature illustration style that made Little Blue Truck a household name, Blue’s new adventure is full of holiday warmth. With beautiful pictures and compact and child-friendly text, this ebook is sure to be the favorite treat of the season.
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
As a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother busily folds origami paper into delicate silver cranes in preparation for the boy’s very first Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
Join Mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as he decorates his Christmas tree in a holiday counting adventure.
This board book with sturdy pages is perfect for toddlers, who will enjoy this simple introduction to numbers. Mouse adds ornaments to his tree, one by one. A great opportunity for the littlest ones to practice counting along with the ever-popular Mouse.
Fans of the If You Give… series won’t want to miss this special Christmas board book.
The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia C. McKissack and Jerry Pinkney
Newbery Honor–winning author McKissack and Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator Pinkney have outdone themselves in this heart-warming story infused with humor and the true spirit of Christmas.
Christmas always comes to Nella’s house, but Santa Claus brings gifts only once in a while. That’s because it’s the Depression and Nella’s family is poor. Even so, Nella’s hoping that this year she and her two sisters will get a beautiful Baby Betty doll.
On Christmas morning, the girls are beside themselves with excitement! There is Baby Betty, in all her eyelash-fluttering magnificence. “Mine!” Nella shouts, and claims the doll for herself. But soon she discovers that Baby Betty isn’t nearly as much fun as her sisters. Would it be more fun to share this very best gift with them after all?
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
Little Teeka thought she had to be firm with the reindeer to get them ready for Santa’s important flight, but when her bossy yelling only got their antlerstangled up, she knew she had to try something different.
Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera
Auntie Claus is just another eccentric New Yorker–or is she? Young Sophie has often wondered about her unusual great-aunt, Auntie Claus. She lives in penthouse 25C at the Bing Cherry Hotel and is so curioso! After all, Auntie Claus serves Christmas cookies all year long and her tree is always the best-decorated in the city. And then there’s her annual “business trip,” right around the holidays. This year Sophie is determined to get to the bottom of Auntie Claus’s mysterious ways. Put on your mittens and bundle up for an adventure beyond your wildest dreams. Ho, ho, ho!
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean and Eric Litwin
A New York Times bestselling Pete the Cat holiday picture book! Spend the holidays with your favorite blue cat! In this rockin’ spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do.’Twas the day before Christmas and Santa was ill. In the cold winter wind hehad caught a bad chill. Will Christmas be canceled? Will it come to that? “Never!” cried Santa. “Let’s call Pete the Cat!”
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen and Jerry Pinkney
The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen’s tale into a child plucked straight from America’s melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous-a circumstance as familiar in Andersen’s day as it is in our own.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Based on Raymond Briggs’s classic, this beautiful illustrated Step into Reading book describes the exciting things that happen to James and his magical snowman.
A Piñata in a Pine Tree by Pat Mora and Magaly Morales
An award-winning author and a rising star artist have put a festive Latino twist on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” populating it with piñatas in place of partridges, plus burritos bailando (dancing donkeys), lunitas cantando (singing moons), and much more, all displayed in the most vivid colors imaginable. In this version a little girl receives gifts from a secret amiga, whose identity is a sweet surprise at the book’s conclusion. There are things to find and count in Spanish on every page, with pronunciations provided right in the pictures and a glossary and music following the story. This joyous fiesta will warm even the coldest of hearts.
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo and Bagram Ibatoulline
In her first picture book, America’s beloved storyteller Kate DiCamillo reunites with Bagram Ibatoulline to offer readers an unforgettable holiday gift.
It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street corner outside Frances’s apartment. Frances can see them from her window and, sometimes, when it’s quiet, she can hear their music. In fact, Frances can’t stop thinking about them, especially after she sees the man and his monkey sleeping outside on the cold street at midnight. When the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, and it’s Frances’s turn to speak, everyone waits silently. But all Frances can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes–until, just in time, she finds the perfect words to share. Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo pairs once again with acclaimed artist Bagram Ibatoulline as she presents a timeless story of compassion and joy.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rick Bunsen
Children ages 3-6 will love to read this Little Golden Book retelling of the classic 1964 holiday TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. All of the other reindeer make fun of Rudolph and won’t let him play in their reindeer games because he’s different. But when Christmas is almost cancelled because of a huge snowstorm, Rudolph comes to the rescue with his wonderful shiny red nose.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole…
Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.
For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes an author’s note.
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
New York Times bestselling artist and Caldecott Honor winner Susan Jeffers has created a Nutcracker as only she can—with lavish illustrations, magnificent detail, and enchanting holiday scenes on every page. This is The Nutcracker as you’ve never seen it before!Join Marie, Fritz, and the intriguing Nutcracker himself on a magical Christmas Eve adventure. Behold the frightful Mouse King, the elegant Sugar Plum fairies, and the entire Land of Sweets in this dazzling, gorgeously illustrated holiday classic. With spare text based on the story in the ballet, this book offers a front-row seat to the enthralling tale that is a perennial favorite of adults and children alike. And for Susan Jeffers fans looking for extra content, an author’s note is included at the end of the book, in which she explains what inspired her to turn this holiday tradition into a show-stopping picture book.
The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold, Chanda A. Bell, and Coë Steinwart
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is an activity the entire family will enjoy. Based on the tradition Carol Aebersold began with her family in the 1970s, this cleverly rhymed children’s book explains that Santa knows who is naughty and/or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. The elf watches the children’s behavior and reports it back to Santa each night. By morning the elf returns to its assigned home and hides in a different location, allowing the children to play a delightful hide-and-seek game. Each product comes with its very own elf doll enabling others to begin this fun-filled Christmas tradition themselves. The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition includes an exquisite 10″ x 10″ hardbound children’s book—illustrated by award winning artist Coe Steinwart, a vintage-like pixie elf doll that sits approximately 8″ tall, and a certificate commemorating the adoption of the elf by a family, teacher, or other group. Additionally, this unique gift includes a festive keepsake box for convenient storage. The purchase of The Elf on the Shelf allows you to give more than a gift. Instead, you are giving a priceless treasure…the creation of lasting memories.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and Charles Santore
Wonderful new version of the classic poem every family should own. Lavishly illustrated by renowned artist Charles Santore, the critically acclaimed illustrator of The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and others. An oversized heirloom edition with a four-page gatefold. Includes embossed and foil cover.
Since it was first published anonymously in 1823, “The Night Before Christmas” has enchanted children with the story of St. Nicholas climbing down the chimney and filling all the stockings before springing back to his sleigh. Many families read the poem every year, and now they have an edition to treasure. The cherished verse, faithfully reproduced here, is accompanied by Charles Santore’s lavish illustrations.
Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck and Felicia Bond
The classic Christmas story, a joy to share with young children.
The gentle beauty of the story of the first Christmas is now available as a board book. With a simple, lyrical text and radiant artwork, this book is perfect for the youngest child to be a part of the wonder of the Nativity.
Parents, grandparents, and caregivers have all embraced this telling. Don’t miss this beautiful little book from the acclaimed team of Nola Buck and Felicia Bond.
An Angel Just Like Me by Mary Hoffman,
An inspiring text and festive illustrations highlight the story of Tyler’s quest to find a Christmas tree angel who does not have golden hair and pink skin, but rather looks like him and his family, is a unique Christmas story that celebrates ethnic diversity.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
The day before Christmas, snuggled on his floor,
Bear sleeps soundly with a great big snore.
“Dear Bear. Get up!” Mouse shouts in his ear.
“We won’t let you sleep through Christmas this year.”
Bear’s friends are determined that he’s awake for Christmas and they get him up from his hibernation on Christmas Eve. Bear is excited to experience the holiday with his friends and tries very hard to stay awake, helping to find the right Christmas tree, making mint tea and singing carols. Finally, though, it’s his friends who have fallen asleep — and Bear Stays Up! He makes food and presents for his friends, not noticing that Father Christmas has also come to visit. Christmas morning dawns bright and happy for all!
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and
Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria’s favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring…
This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate adn funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids.
Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked. It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.
This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.
Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkus
Barbara Park’s New York Times bestselling chapter book series, Junie B. Jones, is a classroom favorite and has been keeping kids laughing—and reading—for more than twenty years. Over 60 million copies in print and now with a bright new look for a new generation!
Meet the World’s Funniest First Grader—Junie B. Jones! It’s holiday time, and Room One is doing lots of fun things to celebrate. Like making elf costumes! And singing joyful songs! Only, how can Junie B. enjoy the festivities when Tattletale May keeps ruining her holiday glee? And here is the worst part of all! When everyone picks names for Secret Santa, Junie B. gets stuck with Tattletale you-know-who! It’s enough to fizzle your holiday spirit! Hmm…or is it? Maybe, just maybe, a Secret Santa gift is the perfect opportunity to give May exactly what she deserves.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney
This unforgettable tale, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Barbara Cooney, has become a seasonal classic-a touching and joyful story about courage and the power of family.
Which of these great Christmas books for kids will your family read? Let us know in the comments!