The Best Children’s Christmas Books

I want to share with you my favorite Christmas books.  I love books, and I love reading to children.  After a gazillion years, these are the ‘tried and true’, stories that children love. Me, too!

Grab tissues, laughter, and wonder, and some history.  Some books you will recognize. Others might seem new, but they’re not— they’re just better.

The first time I read The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg was was in 1985, when the book was published.  I was at a huge family Christmas gathering.  Someone put the book in my hand and asked me to read it to the crowd.  This was a new book for me, and as I read the words I was on that train ride.  The ending was hard to read aloud with my heart in my throat. The movie is good, but the book is superior.

On Christmas Eve, by Peter Collington is a captivating wordless book, in the style of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.  It is based in England, with fairies and Santa Claus traditions.  It is fascinating to follow the fairies helping Santa!

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry is a delightfully predictable tale of a tree that is too tall.  Each time the top is snipped off, it goes to someone else who has the same problem, and so on.  The mouse gets the very last tree top.  The story is done in rhyme, always a delight to the ears of children.

Morris’s Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells is the story of Morris, the youngest in the family, who is too little to play with his sibling’s gifts.  He discovers one last present under the tree, a disappearing bag.  I wonder if J.K. Rowling read this book- perhaps it was the inspiration to create Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.

Carl’s Christmas, by Alexandra Day is one of the Carl book series.  It is beautifully done with full color illustrations.  Of course Carl is a dog who is often left to look after the baby.  That beginning alone is a story grabber.  Best of all, it is a wordless book, leaving much to speculate and talk about.

Santa Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins is the newest book on this list.  Bruce is a grumpy old bear, and is again the victim of mistaken identity.  He is not the real Santa, yet all the animals are convinced that he is.  The book is absolutely hilarious.

If I had to pick only one out of the pile of books, it would be Apple Tree Christmas, by Trinka Hakes Noble.  The story takes place in New Hampshire in the 1800’s.  A blizzard, a farm, a tree, and a child who loves to draw.  It is thrilling from beginning to end… grab the tissues, it’s a true story.

My almost number one book is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Treeby Gloria Houston.  The story takes place in rural Appalachia, close to my roots.  It is a story of rural traditions, WWI, a train, and what a mother does on Christmas Eve.  And, it’s a true story. Recommended for kindergarten and above.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola is a favorite. Everyone loves Strega Nona and Big Anthony.  This book incorporates the culture of Italy and Christmas, and the lessons of life.

Night Treeby Eve Bunting is a modern tale that tells the story of a family and their tree in the woods.  Every Christmas Eve the family bundles up and heads from their house to the woods.  They find “their tree”, the one they have decorated every year for the animals.  It is a well written story, weaving adventure and giving, and family being together.

Dr. Seuss has always been one of the best.  He outdid himself with How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  The message of the true meaning of Christmas shines through in this book.  Please skip the movie, it doesn’t hold a candle to the book.

Every adult should read these books.  Period.  They are that good.  Then, spread the joy and learning by reading aloud these books to children, young and old.  They will love the stories.  You will, too.

Merry Christmas!

Jennie

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.
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65 Responses to The Best Children’s Christmas Books

  1. Dan Antion says:

    All good stories, Jennie. I for one wish that they hadn’t remade the video version of the Grinch. I still prefer reading the story, but the original video, with Boris Karloff was pretty good.

  2. Great recommendations, Jennie! Thank you very much, and have a nice weekend. Michael

  3. Thank you, Jennie!! I love children’s books, and have been wondering what the best Christmas ones were.

  4. Wonderful list, Jennie, and I fondly remembering sharing many of these books with my own students! They seemed to be especially captivated by “Night Tree,” and so was I!

  5. srbottch says:

    Wonderful posting, Jennie. We got ‘Snowmen At Night’, ‘Ten On The Sled’ and ‘Little Blue Truck’s Christmas’ to read to twin two year olds. Should be fun. I’ll keep note of your recommendations.

  6. Mischenko says:

    We love all of these, in fact, most we’ve read in the last few weeks. Such a nice collection! Thanks fro sharing this, Jennie! ❤ ❤ ❤

  7. beetleypete says:

    Thanks for the tips, Jennie. I have Peter Collington’s book on my Amazon wish list, thanks to your recommendation.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      That was the book I hoped you’d spy, Pete. My assistant teacher is from Sheffield, and the traditions in this book are all English. And then there are the fairies…you’ll see. 🙂

  8. Opher says:

    What better presents could there be?

  9. Ritu says:

    Great book choices Jennie!!!

  10. Lovely book choices, Jennie.

  11. Dina says:

    Lovely choices you have picked, Jennie.
    Wishing you Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year!
    The Fab Four of Cley 🎄🎅🌿🤶🎄🤶🌿🤶🎄
    Dina

  12. Jennie, you’ve written about so many very special stories and I agree with your thoughts about parents reading the selections. These are so meaningful to all ages! Our family will be sharing our favorite Christmas picture books when we gather on Christmas Eve, and our youngest member is 18!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Susan. If parents read these, they’ll be hooked. They really are for all ages. I can’t wait to hear what the favorite Christmas picture books were in your family. Really!

  13. Annika Perry says:

    Superb tantalising selection, Jennie. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas.

  14. Excellent selection, Jennie.

  15. Thank you for sharing the list Jennie.

  16. I, too, liked The Polar Express, long before the movie came out, and I understand the lump in the throat. I feel that same lump in the throat in a book with a similar ending – The Snowman. In the case of The Snowman, the video of it is lovely too.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this wonderful selection!

  18. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is a wonderful selection of children’s books from Jennie!

  19. Good list Jennie! Polar Express is a family favorite here, and the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Boris Karloff is our favorite too.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Deborah! The Polar Express has been a family favorite for years. Our son loved the wolves, and every time we drove by a big building surrounded with tiny white lights he asked if it was the North Pole. We still talk about that. Wonderful memories. I have not seen the Boris Karloff version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. That’s a must do!

      • Boris Karloff was the narrator and the voice of the Grinch in the animated one that came out in 1966. I’m sure you’ve seen that one. It’s the best one evah! Really great soundtrack too.

        I’ll have to give #1 Grandson or Baby Girl their own copy of The Polar Express now that they have their own home won’t I? DUH!! Why didn’t I think of that sooner! Perhaps there’s still time and they have a copy at the book store? It’s worth a try!

      • Jennie says:

        I definitely think the bookstore would have a copy at this time of year. Good idea!

      • P.S. Have you read Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail? It’s right up there in my top 3 Christmas reads. Twas the Night Before Christmas is my #1, and The Grinch that Stole Christmas is 2 or 3 depending on my mood. 😃

      • Jennie says:

        No, I haven’t. Thanks for the recommendation! Of course your #1 and #2 are great books!!

      • I’m surprised I was sure you had that one because you and Edward’s Mom would be Kindred Spirits! Edward can’t read and his teacher is very concerned and she keeps sending home notes urging Edwards parents to have him tested.
        Edward’s mom wrote back, ” No tests. Patience.

        When I read the book this year and Edward’s mother’s note I thought of you straight-away.

        From there the book just gets better and better.

      • Jennie says:

        Edward’s Mother is both wise and wonderful. If she needs fuel, tell her that Finland doesn’t introduce formal reading to children until the age of 6. And, Finland is #1 in reading in the world. No worry, no hurry. Reading aloud is the key. Yes, I think Edward’s Mom would be my new BFF. 🙂 And, I’m going to the library to get the book this week. Thank you, Deborah.

  20. Sandra says:

    Thank you for sharing this list. I was looking exactly for something like this!

  21. It’s a delightful reading list, Jennie. I can imagine the faces of the children as you read those stories to them. 🙂 Pure bliss. Happy holiday hugs.

  22. Sarah says:

    Oh, how I love Christmas stories, though we have different ones here in Germany. The message though I believe, is the same – love, peace and goodwill. 😊 Happy Holidays!

  23. Norah Colvin says:

    Thanks for sharing your favourites, Jennie. There are too many with which I’m not familiar. I’ll have to change that before next Christmas!

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