My Favorite Christmas Picture Books for Children

This is a repost of my favorite Christmas books.  Every year they grow stronger, because children love them.  These are the books children and adults want to read over and over again.  That’s why they’re the best.  Please, go to the library if it is open.  Get some of these books and read them aloud to your children.  You will be hooked, too.

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 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!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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77 Responses to My Favorite Christmas Picture Books for Children

  1. Annika Perry says:

    Ahhh … Jennie, a magical selection and I feel all Christamssy now! A beautiful start to the week. Xx

  2. Wonderful selection Jennie, and I absolutely agree that every adult should read them. My two favs are The Polar Express and the Grinch.🥰

  3. delphini510 says:

    Jenny, you have introduced some wonderful children’s books. I agree, a good children’s book can and should also be read by adults.


  4. Darlene says:

    Such a great selection of Christmas books. Kids love them and so do adults!!

  5. Pingback: My Favorite Christmas Picture Books for Children | Talmidimblogging

  6. Opher says:

    I’m not familiar with some of these Jennie!

  7. great list of books, but I can honestly say I’ve only read a few of these. There are so many great Christmas stories. Some of my favorites are Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight by Pallota and Are You Grumpy Santa by Spiridellis. But, I think they hold special meaning because my sons always read these to my class at Christmas time.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Lori. I promise you every book on this list will captivate your students. Yes, there are so many great Christmas books. They’re the ones that hold a special meaning. Loren Long has just illustrated “‘The Night Before Christmas.” I have the book and can’t wait to read it to my class!

  8. “Every adult should read these books. Period.”
    Especially this year, teacher. We all need more Christmas IMHO – and like you say, these books help spread the JOY…
    We’re so on the same wavelength and it feels comforting somehow.

    • Jennie says:

      I couldn’t have said it any better, Laura. Thank you. Spread joy. These books will do that, far more than you imagine. Yes, we’re on the same wavelength. Always. And that feels comforting.

  9. I’m hooked on The Snowman (Raymond Briggs), but this is a nice collection, Jennie.

  10. I’ve read and own two of those and love them. Have you read Sant’s Book of Names by David McPhail? It’s amoung my favorites at Christmas as well as the Gingham Dog and Calico Cat by Brigid Clark and Chris Noel.

    Thanks for sharing this list, Jennie I will check out the books I haven’t read.

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Deborah. I don’t know know those books! Thank you for introducing me to new ones. I hope you find a few more from the list to enjoy. Happy reading. 🥰

  11. quiall says:

    What wonderful stories to revisit every year.

  12. Great picks! ❤ Sharing and wishing everyone a blessed and beautiful Christmas! 🎄Ho! Ho! Ho! xo

  13. Ritu says:

    Always a pleasure to recount these great classics!

  14. A delightful collection, Jennie. I hope many parents &/or care-givers will be reminded of old friends, or find new treats to read to their children. Hugs on the wing!

  15. beetleypete says:

    Based on your previous recommendation, I bought ‘On Christmas Eve’ for our grandson. Now aged 6, and obsessed with Pokemon, he might have grown out of it. But luckliy, he now has a baby sister to pass it on to.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  16. Super selection, Jennie.

  17. I must share this. Thank you.

  18. Pingback: My Favorite Christmas Picture Books for Children – floweralley

  19. Jennie, I shared this on my blog and it sort of looked like I wrote it until you click on it. I am glad this happened because I had been sort of miffed with another blogger who shares posts that look like he wrote them. Now I know that That’s how it looks when you click the share button. Then I shared it off your site and it looks right. I put it on Twitter also. I absolutely trust your taste in books. Happy Holidays.

  20. KidsBookBot retweeted my tweet of your post.

  21. Wonderful selection of books, Jennie! I fondly remember reading many of these with my students.

  22. Dan Antion says:

    Wonderful list, Jennie.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I will always treasure “The Night Before Christmas,” My mother read to us from her childhood copy which I used to read to my daughter and then to her children. It has held up pretty well since we only get it out on Christmas.

  24. I loved the Strega Nona books. They were some of the few books that featured Italian characters, and as an Italian-American, I treasured those stories when I was growing up (and still do!).

    • Jennie says:

      Thank goodness Tomie dePaola wrote the wonderful Strega Nona books. The world now knows much more about Italian culture and traditions. How wonderful that you had these books growing up.

  25. petespringerauthor says:

    Ah, my memory hasn’t completely let me down. I remember this post. Who knows how many children’s lives will be enriched by these books this year?

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Pete. How can I not post the best of the best Christmas books, every year? That’s what gives me hope. Maybe someone will fill find ‘that book’, the one that makes a difference.

  26. Norah says:

    A lovely collection, Jennie. Enjoy with your children!

  27. Children’s Christmas books are just the best, always magical!

  28. willedare says:

    Thank you for these well-tested recommendations, Jennie!!!

  29. The Snowman is a favourite of mine

  30. I don’t recognise very many of these books, Jennie. I’ve said before that the children’s picture books in the USA are different. I do, of course, know Dr Seuss.

  31. A really great selection Jennie! Which one is your favorite?

  32. I gave my sister(over 50) Mr Willoughby for her December birthday! She loved it!

  33. Thank you for the recommendations, Jennie! Very appreciated to have them also beside the new children books. By the way, a few days in the past i the first time ever have heared about Dr. Seuss. One or more of his elder books now got to be translated in German language too.
    The way of knowledge sometimes for the elder ones is a hard way to go. 😉

  34. Sorry, now i remember: The Grinch was translated too.

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