Books are an important part of the holidays for me. As a child, my siblings and I would all huddle round while we read the same children’s stories every year, even as we grew into our teens and even adulthood. Tradition is tradition. Children’s Christmas stories hold a very special kind of magic to instill the holiday spirit. Here are 25 wondrous Christmas books for kids.
1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Herdman kids are many things, but well-behaved is not one of them. In this first book of the series, the siblings participate in the local Christmas pageant and naturally, shenanigans ensue.
2. A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig and Chris Mould
Described as “Lemony Snicket meets Elf,” this story follows Nikolas, who ventures to the North Pole in search for his missing father. Along the way he encounters threats as dark as any fairytale, but manages to end with a heaping dose of Christmas cheer.
3. Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck and Felicia Bond
This sweet and lyrical telling of the first Christmas is a great way to introduce young ones to the Nativity story, complete with sweet, colorful illustrations.
4. The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen
Anja wishes to be one of Santa’s elves, so she dons her snowshoes and heads off to pursue her ambition. Compared to The Polar Express and The Snowman, this Nordic tale is filled with wonder and warmth.
5. Disney It’s A Small World: Christmas Around the World by Calliope Glass and Susan Chen Fang
For fireworks in Brazil to Sinterklaas in the Netherlands to mango trees in South Africa, this book inspired by the Disney World ride celebrates Christmas traditions from all over the world.
6. Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Wishing for snow, a farmer naps on Christmas Eve and dreams of a snowstorm blanketing his farm, then wakes to find it has come true! Then he creates a musical celebration for children everywhere. From the favorite children’s author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
7. Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight
This beloved little troublemaker takes it upon herself to spread Christmas cheer (and ample chaos) throughout the Plaza Hotel in this more recent addition to a children’s classic.
8. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
We have to include this non-negotiable Christmas children’s book classic. I declare it to be impossible to read this story about Whoville’s most terrible Christmas crank without your heart growing three sizes.
9. How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton
A scheming story of how to catch a Christmas elf told in playful rhyme that makes it an instant modern classic—a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
10. I Am Max by Astrid Holm
Little ones that love the Grinch will also enjoy this new release from his beloved sidekick, dog Max, inspired by Dr. Seuss’s quirky storytelling. (Also check out I Am Cindy Lou Who.)
11. If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t! by Elise Parsley
It’s easy to see how the misunderstanding took place—Magnolia’s dad said they were going to meet a man with a beard, a red suit, a bag full of treasures. But it turns out Santa isn’t a pirate. The fourth in a New York Times bestselling series.
12. La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story by Antonio Sacre and Angela Dominguez
Nina isn’t used to humid heat at Christmas, and with her Grandmother in Miami she misses the New England snow she is used to. But as she learned about her Cuban heritage, her eyes are opened to an incredible Noche Buena.
13. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
A young girl presents the gift of a poinsettia to the Christ Child, making it Mexico’s flor de la Nochebuenao—flower of the Holy Night. An adaptation of a Mexican legend from a renowned, multi-award-winning author.
14. Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney
If this title doesn’t catch your attention, well, I have no more tricks up my sleeve. A rhyming board book that delivers on the humor promised by the title, as you and your little one join little llama in fun Christmas traditions.
15. Mouse’s Christmas Gift by Mindy Baker and Dow Phumiruk
The parson is sick, and the Christmas Eve service is cancelled. But Mouse is determined to give the town its nativity scene, and sets off a chain reaction of hope and love.
16. Native American Night Before Christmas by Gary Robinson
In this adaptation of the Christmas classic from a Choctaw and Cherokee author and Cherokee illustrator, Old Red Shirt comes by night in his sleigh pulled by flying white buffalo. Winner of the 2010 Moonbeam Award for Holiday Books.
17. The Nutracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow and James Ransome
A retelling of the traditional tale set in the Harlem Renaissance, inspired by jazz and illustrated by a Coretta Scott King Award–winning artist. This story follows a girl’s adventures through an enchanted world as she finds her voice.
18. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Olivia is very busy waiting for Santa and overseeing her parents to ensure all critical Christmas tasks are completed. A sure win for fans of the Caldecott-winning Olivia series.
19. Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Another beloved classic and Caldecott Award winner. On Christmas Eve, a boy who is doubting his holiday spirit gets a rare chance to hop on board the Polar Express direct to the North Pole, and receives a gift to reignite his faith in Christmas forever. This 30th anniversary edition features new enriched finishes and an author’s note.
20. Robert’s Snow by Grace Lin
All the other mice are sealing themselves in their homes in preparation for the coming snow, but Robert the mouse slips outside from his leaky old leather boot, eager to play in it. He becomes lost, and finds aid from a big animal with red fur. Later, his family is mysteriously brought a much-needed brand new boot.
21. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Another beloved classic following a little boy and his animated snowman on an incredible adventure though a Winter Wonderland.
22. Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez
Maria and her cousins desperately try to cover her after she borrows her mother’s beautiful diamond ring…and loses it in the Christmas tamales. As they hunt for the treasure amidst the feast, a family pulls together.
23. Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
After playing outside on an ice-cold pond, a Japanese boy warms up inside. As he does, he watches his mama dig up the pine tree that was planted when he was born, bring it inside, and decorate it in paper cranes.
24. Under the Christmas Tree by Nikki Grimes and Kadir Nelson
A gorgeously illustrated Christmas poem that tells a story of Christmas Eve from the eyes of an African American child, full of sentiment, family and heartwarming wonder. From a Coretta Scott King Award–winning author.
25. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
When Teeka’s stern methods to prepare Santa’s magic reindeer does nothing but make matters worse, she must get creative to find a better way.
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What are your favorite Christmas books for kids?