Outstanding Christmas Books


Christmas is about the heart and creating strong, lasting memories.  Good books do just that, especially if the story engages children and adults alike.

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston (1988) is an Appalachian tale of a family, a tree, and a community’s local tradition.  The World War interrupts what is supposed to be.  I shove this book into the hands of adults because it is that good.  They thank me.

Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble (1984) is a story in New England, where a terrible blizzard takes down a beloved tree.  How the family manages Christmas that year is unexpected to the reader, and the message of giving rings true.

On Christmas Eve by Peter Collington (1990) is a wordless book with exquisitely detailed illustrations.  Wordless books are not for the very young, as they ignite far more thought (and discussion) than books with words.  This story is from England with slightly different traditions from America.  Oh, the fairies!  They make the story from beginning to end.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomi de Paola (1986) is a joyful Italian story of Christmas magic.  Every child needs to hear stories with a character that makes mistakes, and Big Anthony does just that.  Delightful!

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry (1963) is the story of a big Christmas tree in a big house, and the tree is too tall.  The top is chopped off, and the adventure begins from family to family.

Great books often become excellent movies.  Two of the greatest Christmas books have become blockbuster movies.  Yet, the original was the book, and the book often has more.  When children watch a movie with their family, there is little room for conversation or discussion.  When parents read the book with their child, the world opens up- simply because together they can stop at any place in the story to talk, laugh, ask questions, learn and love.

Here are the two books that became movies:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (1957) is a classic with the best message of the meaning of Christmas.  When I read the book to my preschool class, children ask if the this is the real Grinch, because he is white.  The movie Grinch is green.  Thank goodness I read this book aloud every year!

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1985) is a thrilling Christmas story.  Parents see the book in my classroom, and some are surprised to know that it is actually a book, written long before the movie.  The illustrations and the story line make for a must read Christmas story.  The book is the real deal.

Books open the world and the imagination.  Christmas is the best time to read-aloud, snuggled together and creating lasting memories.  These books do just that.

Merry Christmas!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, picture books, reading aloud, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Outstanding Christmas Books

  1. srbottch says:

    We read several, if not all, of these books. Our adult son gave my wife a copy of The Polar Express as a remembrance of earlier Christmases. I hope you’ll scroll down my blog stories and find two Christmas ones. ‘The Best Christmas Tree Ever’ and ‘Today, I Smell Gingerbread’. Merry Christmas!

  2. A lovely festive post, Jennie. My grandson is getting The Polar Express this year. And the Grinch is already a favorite. Happy Holidays to you and enjoy a wonderful school break! 🙂

  3. Susan @ redcanoereader.com says:

    What a beautifully written post, Jennie! You’ve included so many of my favorites. Merry Christmas to you! Susan

  4. Merry Christmas, Strega Nona was always one of my favorites. Thanks for the memories, Jennie!

  5. magarisa says:

    Merry Christmas, Jennie! Thank you for the book recommendations.

  6. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for another wonderful post! Merry Christmas!

  7. L. Marie says:

    I hope you have a good Christmas! (I still need you to confirm on my blog so I can send the books your way.)

  8. All GREAT books. 🙂 Your posts are such a lovely walk down memory lane for me. ❤

  9. Great picture book choices! Merry Christmas, Jennie!

  10. reocochran says:

    I wrote with no illustrations (before I used pictures I used words to describe on my blog) a post about children’s Christmas books a few years back. It is on one of my links from either today or the one connected with today, Jennie! Yours are absolutely “perfect!” I love my brown woven basket of Christmas books!! I have nearly all of what you listed. Xoxo

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Robin. I, too, wrote on my blog without pictures early-on. I will read your post, for sure! No surprise that we have & like the same books. 🙂

  11. Shelley Lofgren Grove says:

    There are two books that is not on the list–The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans and How Six Found Christmas by Trina Schart Hyman

  12. I’ve copied the list for future reference. Thank you so much. Happy New Year, Jennie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s