30 Best Christmas Children’s Books

Sometimes, just before bed on the one magical Eve of the year, the perfect Christmas book can make for the perfect way to lull excited children off into the land of sugar plums and fairies. But they’re also great leading up to that special day, as well as the rest of December. Grab a cookie and read up!

the mitten The Mitten: When a little red mitten suddenly appears in the forest, all the animals aren’t quite sure that it is. They do realize that it’s rather cozy inside the mitten, so one by one, they crawl inside. The mitten keeps on stretching to include more animals—even a bear! How many of them will be able to fit in there? Available in paperback, hardcover, and as a board book to suit small hands. Jan Brett’s classic tale of a lost mitten is a joy for children everywhere, especially with her delightfully colorful and highly detailed illustrations. This story may easily become a family favorite.
the polar express The Polar Express: A book that quickly became a classic (and then a movie), it’s the story of one boy whose name we never learn as he steps onto a magical train that heads straight to the North Pole. It is there he meets Santa Claus himself and learns what it really means to believe. Chris Van Allsburg’s soft illustrations and sweet story have become a classic read during that time of the year. Every child will dream about getting the chance to hop onto the train and watch the stars and meet elves and of course, Santa Claus and his amazing reindeer. In fact, a few adults might dream of it too…
a wish to be a christmas tree A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree: A small evergreen tree stands alone in the forest, wishing to be a beautifully decorated tree for the festive holiday season. Each animal tells the tree how special it is to them, and after they decorate it with things from the forest, it realizes that not being chosen may be the best thing after all. Good children’s christmas books like this one celebrate the bonds of friendship in times of sadness. A positive book with a heartwarming story. Some children may be surprised when they finally notice that the trees have faces, as they are so well crafted into the shapes of the trees.
how the grinch stole christmas How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Everyone in Whoville celebrates the holiday season with joy and happiness, toys and feasting. Except the Grinch. His heart happens to be two sizes too small, and he’s less than excited about the coming festival. So what does he do? On the eve of the big day, he dresses as Santa and steals Christmas! Or does he? This is a classic tale by Dr. Seuss that children and adults have come to love throughout the years. Through the prickly old Grinch, Dr. Seuss shows everyone what that special time of the season really means, and it’s much more than presents and food.
god gave us christmas God Gave Us Christmas: Cozying up the night before with a good selection of Christmas childrens books and a cup of hot chocolate always makes for a wonderful time. Now kids and adults can thank God by reading this title by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrator David Hohn. A book meant for infants and children in preschool, a mama polar bear and her cub go through a series of simple questions and answers, the two reveal the true meaning behind that most special day of the year. A great book for parents looking to teach their children about God and why we celebrate December 25th.
dream snow Dream Snow: Eric Carle is well known for his popular books featuring caterpillars and brown bears. But what about snow? He has one for snow too! Now children can read about a farmer who works hard all day, caring for his animals and then going home to relax. One night he dreams about everything being covered in snow, and when he wakes up he finds that his dream has come true. The bright collage-like illustrations will catch readers’ imaginations and young children will be excited to push the button at the end of the story, which plays a happy little tune perfect for the celebration.
the sweet smell of christmas The Sweet Smell of Christmas: Mmm—the holidays certainly smell delicious! Little Bear knows that magical day of the year is almost upon them because of all the amazing scents floating in the air. From soft gingerbread men to sweet mint candy, there are so many smells to accompany the festivities; it’s hard to choose a favorite! Even if parents don’t make gingerbread cookies, readers can still smell them. The book contains six different scratch-and-sniff scents, so kids can interact with the story and smell some of the things that Little Bear smells. Parents might even bring in a few real scents to add to the fun—like candy canes and pine needles!
bear stays up for christmas Bear Stays Up for Christmas: Fans of Bear and all his friends will love children’s Christmas books that feature them. Bears snooze all through winter, but the other animals of the forest want Bear to experience the joy of the holiday season. So they wake him up! For the first time, Bear stays awake and gets to bake sweets, hang stockings, and enjoy the company of all his friends. When everyone else finally falls asleep, Bear plans a special surprise of his own. The soft pictures of a big bear and all his woodland friends are certain to be a favorite with newcomers to Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s creations.
christmas remembered Christmas Remembered: Bringing his own experiences with festivities to children’s bedrooms, Tomie dePaola illustrates fifteen different memories, each one at a different time in his life. People can see how he celebrated as a child, as a teenager, and finally as an adult. From hanging stockings to feasting with friends, each memory is unique and pulled together with his signature illustrative style, using simple shapes, colors, and a collage-like approach to pull it all together. Half autobiographical for interested adults and half entertainment for young children, Tomie dePaola’s book is likely to become a quick addition to any book collection.
santa claus Santa Claus: Christmas childrens books can remind kids that Santa knows when you are sleeping and when you are awake. But few actually know what goes on in his workshop and how his reindeer are taken care of. Rod Green divulges everything on Santa Claus, from his massive mail room to how his sleigh works. Children will be fascinated with his rendition of the North Pole, and possibly even more so with the amazing illustrations by Simon Danaher and Jon Lucas. The color and detail will captivate children as they gobble up information about Santa, the elves, the reindeer, and so much more!
nightmare before christmas Nightmare Before Christmas: For children and adults looking for a different flavor when it comes to children’s Christmas books, this title should give you exactly what you are looking for. This title is based upon the popular movie by Tim Burton which puts a scary twist on the holidays. Jack Skellington is all about making Halloween spooky and fun. But after one more successful Halloween night, he starts thinking about other celebrations. When he discovers Santa Claus and the magic of presents and decorated trees, he knows what he has to do next! With plenty of freakish presents and a skeleton dressed in Santa Claus clothes, it’s going to be a spooky holiday!
fancy nancy: splendiferous christmas Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas: The lovable Fancy Nancy always parades around in the cutest things and has such a good time. Why should the season of giving be any different? When Nancy hears that it’s that time of year again, she’s more than ready. There are cookies to be made, presents to be wrapped, and a tree to be decorated. This year Nancy has bought a tree topper with her very own money. But will everything go smoothly? Will her holiday really be a splendiferous one? Jane O’Connor’s fun stories and text combined with Robin Preiss Glasser’s illustrations have become a huge hit with children all around, girls especially. Expect plenty of excitement when this title comes through the door at home.
olive, the other reindeer Olive, the Other Reindeer: Many children already know Olive, a little dog with big aspirations. She’s having a good time during the celebrations, but when singing songs about reindeer, she things the line “All of the other reindeer” is actually, “Olive the other reindeer!” Convinced she must actually be a reindeer and not a dog, Olive sets out to become a part of Santa’s team, with surprising results. An uncanny story will lead to lots of giggles and great fun. Olive has been around for many years, and her enduring entertainment will make sure that she stays around for many, more—a treat for kids and parents alike.
the christmas miracle The Christmas Miracle: Classic Christmas childrens books are always wonderful choices for the holiday season. This title by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch is about a man named Jonathan Toomey. He is the best woodcarver around, but has a sad past that no one knows about. When he gets a special request one year, it becomes a request that will change his life forever. The illustrations are truly opulent, echoing the woodcarver’s skills as each picture has a slightly etched feeling. Rich colors set the tone and the realism will have both parents and kids falling in love with them. A heartwarming tale with a miraculous ending.
the teddy bear The Teddy Bear: While not strictly a Christmas book, its sentiments echo that of the giving season. A little boy loses his beloved bear one day, which is then found by a homeless man. When the boy discovers his favorite toy once more, he is unable to part the man with the bear, and instead chooses to do something that will leave readers touched and hoping to give others the same compassion someday. David McPhail’s simple story of love and giving (even from the teddy bear’s point of view) is one that will endure in any family’s household for many years to come.
a christmas memory A Christmas Memory: A book by a man who most might not think of in the same vein as Christmas childrens books, Truman Capote brings his autobiographical story to the eyes of children. As a boy while growing up in Alabama, the holiday season is plenty of reason to celebrate, with such quotes as “It’s fruitcake weather!” and the loving bond between a young boy and an older woman as they share the joy of the season and each other’s company. It is an enduring tale that parents may remember from their childhood, and a story that children ages 9-12 will enjoy hearing every year.
mr. willoby’s christmas tree Mr. Willoby’s Christmas Tree: Robert Barry’s simple tale of one man’s attempt to get a tree into his house. It’s a little big, so what will he do? The only answer is to snip off the top. But what happens to the top of the tree after that? Kids will have to read to find out what something as down-to-earth a top of a tree can provide during the giving season. Generations of children can enjoy this timeless tale. Some parents may even have memories of bringing home a tree that’s just too tall. Mr. Willoby can show everyone that it doesn’t always matter what you give, but the simple fact of giving can make all the difference.
trouble with trolls Trouble with Trolls: Children’s Christmas books don’t always have to feature reindeer and Santa Claus. Sometimes they feature trolls! Jan Brett offers up a story not necessarily of the holiday variety, but more seasonal than anything, featuring characters that troop through heavy snow on mountaintops, wrapped up in warm clothing. The heroine Treva is out with her husky dog Tuffi when suddenly Tuffi is kidnapped by trolls. It’s up to Treva to face the trolls an rescue her beloved dog. Using old folk tale concepts, Brett provides beautiful illustration and an exciting story for any child aged 3 to 8.
how murray saved christmas How Murray Saved Christmas: Santa is suddenly knocked out by a Jack-in-the-Boxer (much more dangerous than the usual Jack-in-the-Box!). But with Santa out for the count, who will deliver the presents to all the girls and boys? Murray the deli owner! He isn’t quite sure what to do, but with an assertive elf to guide him and a little boy to believe in him, Murray is sure that he’ll be able to make miracles happen. A hilarious romp written by Mike Reiss and complete with wacky illustrations by David Catrow. One of those books that children will want read over and over while they roll over the bed with laughter.
snowmen at christmas Snowmen at Christmas: One cannot have Christmas childrens books without having a few that feature raucous snowmen! This cozy book by Caralyn and Mark Buehner (the creators of Snowmen at Night) are stuffed full of snowmen who come to life to celebrate the holiday season. Together, they have great times, caroling and even getting presents from Santa Claus himself! Snowmen certainly know how to party! Lyrical rhymes and exciting illustrations full of rich hues and expressive faces (even for snowmen!) will delight readers, young and old. In fact, after a few readings, both children and adults may not ever look at snowmen in quite the same way again.
auntie clause Auntie Clause: Sophie has a unique aunt. Her last name happens to be Claus and she does a lot of peculiar things, such as serving holiday cookies year-round, she disappears for a so-called “business trip” during one certain time every year, and her tree looks fantastic every single time. What is it with Auntie Claus? This year, Sophie plans on finding out! Elise Primavera provides a cute and fun story about what it might be like to have an aunt actually related to Santa Claus. Whimsical illustrations provide a festive look at New York City, and some kids might guess who Auntie Claus is before Sophie does.
olivia helps with christmas Olivia Helps with Christmas: Many favorite characters are featured in children’s Christmas books, and this time Olivia, everyone’s favorite pig is ready and set to help during the holidays. There is so much to do, from making cookies to opening presents. Olivia is ready to help with everything, but it’s a lot harder than she thought! Kids can join Olivia as she tries to make it the best celebration ever, and many might also be able to relate to her predicaments as she gets a little overzealous. Typical Olivia fashion, kids will enjoy the simple illustrations with a few dashes of color and a lot of heart.
the little fir tree The Little Fir Tree: Margaret Wise Brown is well known in the book world for her wonderful children’s stories, most notably Goodnight Moon. Here she pens a tale of a small fir tree, standing alone in a field. It’s one with is to be a part of the forest, or at least to be a part of something. One quiet night, a young boy and his family decorate the tree and it becomes something much more. Soft with snow, yet evoking feelings of warmth, the illustrations by Jim Lamarche delight and inspire. A good read when cozy in bed or with a cup of cocoa.
the year of the perfect christmas tree The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: Ruthie and her mother set out to find the perfect tree for their home. There are so many trees to choose from, but there is one in particular they want to find. Years back, Ruthie’s father planted a little tree on a rocky cliff. While he’s away at war, Ruthie and her mother think this might be the perfect way to bring him home for the holidays. A sweet story by Gloria Houston, some kids may be able to relate to the idea of an absent parent during the holidays. Illustrations by the Caldecott Medal winner Barbara Cooney give life to a touching tale.
mr. christmas Mr. Christmas: Along with the other Mr. and Miss titles (such as Mr. Nonsense and Little Miss Chatterbox), is one friend for kids who is the embodiment of the holiday spirit. Santa actually gives him a call, requesting his help to deliver presents to all the Mr. Men. Amidst snow and cold, can he do it? A simple book for infants and preschoolers, it’s easy to understand and just as easy to enjoy. A great choice for teachers and parents alike, kid will quickly point out all the fun things in this book, including the fact that the hero looks surprisingly like a certain holiday tree.
christmas cookies Christmas Cookies: Christmas childrens books can occasionally have the power not only to tell a good story, but a sweet one! Each page is a morsel of joy as Amy Krouse Rosenthal helps to enhance children’s vocabulary even as they celebrate the seasons. Every page has a specific word on it with a definition. But the definitions aren’t dull and dry. Instead they’re filled with reason and real world meaning. For example, “Anticipation means I’ve been thinking all day about making the cookies.” Indeed, that is a perfect definition of anticipation for kids who love cookies! Done in with bright colors and full of holiday cheer, any book with cookies is a hit.
mortimer’s christmas manger Mortimer’s Christmas Manger: Mortimer is a tiny mouse living in his cold little mousey hole. It’s not much fun, so he goes out looking for a new place to move in. Mortimer soon stumbles upon a nativity scene and decides that this could be quite a lovely place to stay. That is, until he discovers who he sharing his new house with when he hears humans outside telling the story of baby Jesus. Cute illustrations by Jane Chapman compliment the special story penned by Karma Wilson. The idea is straightforward, to tell children about the reason behind the holidays, but does so in a fun way that is unpretentious.
a pussycat’s christmas A Pussycat’s Christmas: Cats can celebrate too! Yet another cheery story from Margaret Wise Brown, parents and kids get to see the holidays from a cat’s point of view. The things he smells. The things he sees. He even plays in the snow and watches as people put up decorations. He knows that one special day will soon be upon everyone and is just as excited as everyone else. And no cat can resist shiny baubles! Brown uses her signature rhymes to make reading fun (or to lull sleepy children into dreams), while Anne Mortimer illustrates kitty bouncing around in the snow and sniffing up tasty scents.
a pirate’s night before christmas A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas: Argh and shiver me timbers! Everyone can enjoy the magical season. Even pirates! Philip Yates brings a whole boatload of them into kids’ rooms, complete with presents, decorated trees, and good cheer. As colorful as any book can be (both in its illustrations as well as its snappy rhymes), these pirates get a visit not from Santa Claus, but from someone else who drives ahead of him giant seahorses! Tons of fun, the wackiness doesn’t seem to end. This title gives kids a break from the traditional stories of reindeer and Santa, and instead sends them onto the high seas for some crazy pirate antics!
humphrey’s first christmas Humphrey’s First Christmas: Who would ever think that children’s Christmas books could feature a camel? But indeed they can, as demonstrated by Carol Heyer. And why not? The three wise men rode in on camels as they transported gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus. Humphrey is one of those camels, taking his rider to the special manger, and the story through his eyes. A unique take on the holiday spirit, Carol Heyer also does the illustrations, which will give children hours of fun, from big camel faces to the completely different setting—desert and no snow. It would be no surprise if this became a tale read every year, multiple times.

Who would ever think that children’s Christmas books could feature a camel? But indeed they can, as demonstrated by Carol Heyer. And why not? The three wise men rode in on camels as they transported gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus. Humphrey is one of those camels, taking his rider to the special manger, and the story through his eyes. A unique take on the holiday spirit, Carol Heyer also does the illustrations, which will give children hours of fun, from big camel faces to the completely different setting—desert and no snow. It would be no surprise if this became a tale read every year, multiple times.

30 Best Christmas Children's Books of All-Time.

2 Responses to “30 Best Christmas Children’s Books”

  1. Holly says:

    I like this list and it has many of our favorites on it. One book that we always enjoy is Night Tree, by Eve Bunting, The Baker’s Dozen by Aaron Sheppard

  2. Lauren says:

    Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present by John Burningham (author of Mr Gumpy’s Outing, My Gumpy’s Motorcar) is one of my favorite stories about Christmas. Santa gets home tired after delivering presents, puts the reindeer to bed and then realizes he still has one present left in his sack… It’s out of stock now but can be found in libraries or purchased used.

Leave a Reply