Best Children’s Christmas Books – Annual Post

Christmas books are often more meaningful to read to a child after the holiday, once a child has experienced the joy of Christmas.     

Red and Lulu, by Matt Tavares is the story of two cardinals who live in a mighty evergreen tree.  They love their home, their tree.  Best of all, they love it when winter arrives and Christmas carolers sing close by.  Red leaves to get food, and when he returns, the tree is being cut down and hauled away.  He tells Lulu to stay, and he desperately follows the truck as it drives the tree away – but he can’t fly fast enough.  The tree becomes the tree at Rockefeller Center, and the story behind finding Lulu and what happens is fascinating.  It’s Christmas, nature, love, adventure, and never giving up.

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, 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!

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.
This entry was posted in Book Review, children's books, Family, Inspiration, joy, picture books, reading aloud, wonder and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Best Children’s Christmas Books – Annual Post

  1. Ritu says:

    What a great selection of books! 🥰

  2. There are a lot of great addition, Jennie! Thanks for sharing and also the reminder on these great books. It’s time to fill the baskets and give the children possibilities to read and dream. Best wishes, Michael

  3. Great list, almost wish I had kids! Almost. 😉

  4. beth says:

    What a wonderful, win post! Books, children, and Christmas!!!

  5. Don Ostertag says:

    I wish those books were around when my sons were small. I would have loved to sit by the tree reading them to the boys.
    Sweet post, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      I know how you feel. I wish I could go back in time and read these books to my children. When The Polar Express came out, I was asked to read the book at a big Christmas gathering. Oh, my! You can picture that scene. I’m lucky that I get to read these books to my preschoolers.

  6. Darlene says:

    A superb list! I love Santa Bruce. (all those Bruce books are great) I hope every kid gets a book for Christmas!! (or has a book read to them)

  7. I love Apple Tree Christmas.

  8. petespringerauthor says:

    I remember this post from before. It’s great to add another one to the list—The story Red and Lulu is new to me, though it sounds lovely. (I’ve probably mentioned before that our dog is named Lulu.) I’m a big fan of perseverance; that message can’t be emphasized enough to kids.

    I’m struck by the fact that illustrators are like painters, as we instantly recognize their work. Tomie dePaola, Dr. Seuss, and Ryan T. Higgins are prime examples of that.

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Pete, the next time you go to the library, I hope you check out Red and Lulu. It is perseverance and love, an important message for children. the book is so good! I do remember that your dog is Lulu. And, I feel the same way about illustrators. That’s why the Eric Carle Museum is amazing- seeing the recognizable art of illustrators. Did I ever tell you that The Snowy Day is done from cut-out linoleum?

      • petespringerauthor says:

        I will do that, Jennie. You may have mentioned the cut-out linoleum to me, but I don’t recall. That element certainly adds to the mystique.

      • Jennie says:

        It does! Seeing art ‘live’ is a whole new experience, much like hearing music live. Like you, I am blown away at the impressive art of illustrators.

        On a side note, I’m thinking of you (big time) with the earthquake. Drop me an email.

  9. I always felt that reading a lot when I was younger served me well as I became an adult. I love this list, and a few of these I wouldn’t mind reading myself. Lovely post, Jennie!

    • Jennie says:

      Reading definitely makes a difference! Children who read do better in all subject areas in school, plus they get a big dose of social and emotional exposure through stories books convey. I will say, you’ll enjoy the books as much as the children do. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is a must read the next time you’re in the library. Oh, my! Many thanks, Bruce.

  10. cindy knoke says:

    Thank you for the great suggestions. Merry Christmas Jennie! 🔔🎉🎅🎁🎄

  11. It’s nice that some of my favorites from when my kids were little (like Polar Express) are still popular.

  12. beetleypete says:

    Thank you, Jennie. We have already bought our Christmas books for our grandson. He is learning Piano, and Chess, so we got him basic instruction books. But I will keep these in mind of course, for another year.
    Best wishes as always, Pete.

  13. Excellent choices, Jennie. Thanks for sharing.

  14. quiall says:

    I don’t know most of those! Maybe I should do a little more reading…

  15. K.L. Hale says:

    Merry Christmas, sweet Jennie! What a wonderful collection! The Polar Express brings such sweet memories of my sons and elementary students. Last week I ordered the hard copy of that and The Grinch on Amazon for huge discounts for the grandkids. Isn’t Christmas literature the best? Kids just light up and it warms the heart! 🎄💚🥰

  16. Dan Antion says:

    Thank you for your advice, Jennie. I know some of these, and I know they all must be good (or you wouldn’t recommend them).

  17. Excellent choices! I have a couple in my library too.

  18. dgkaye says:

    What a wonderful list of books for children Jennie. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas to you, and all good things for the new year. ❤

  19. Norah says:

    Thanks for the shares, Jennie. I love Christmas books. (I love Christmas!)
    Wishing you, your family and your children, the most amazing Christmas and a wonderful 2023.

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