What children’s books should you read around Christmas time? There are so many good ones! Here are all my recommendations for Christmas children’s picture books, chapter and middle-grade books, and activity books. I think you’ll find these to be sweet, meaningful, funny, and inspiring.
- Secular Christmas Favorites — from heartwarming to hilarious
- Christian Christmas Favorites — that share the birth of Jesus
- Christmas Around the World — traditions and cultures
- Chapter and Middle-Grade Christmas Books — you’ll love to read these aloud
- Activity Books — to keep your kids busy and engaged
- Advent Calendars — a fun tradition for kids of all ages
Why not start an advent tradition of books? Wrap up all your Christmas books and let your kids open one every day of December from the 1st to the 24th. Or, download my free reading Advent calendar!
Biggest, Best List of Children’s Favorite Christmas Books
Poke a Dot The Night Before Christmas
Count down to Christmas with buttons to press and pop on each page of this cheerful Christmas book!
Fa-la-la Llama by Joan Holub, illustrated by Allison Black
A board book for the youngest readers, this version of Deck the Halls features llamas making merry and tiptoe prancing, among other activities. fa la la la la la la la llama!
Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever by Matt Tavares
Don’t miss this heartfelt, wonderful story about hope, family, and the origins of Santa’s reindeer team. Dasher, the youngest reindeer in her family, loves her mama’s stories of the North Star and roaming free. She dreams of freedom but she’s caged in a traveling circus. Until one day, she gets a chance to escape. Dasher bravely follows the North Star, unexpectedly meeting Santa who she helps with his sleigh. Then, Dasher and Santa return for Dasher’s whole family who also help Santa pull his sleigh. I adore everything about this story!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Before you watch the movie, read the book! It’s fabulous with a captivating plot, memorable characters, and a beautiful message.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
This is a BEAUTIFUL book — the illustrations, the storyline, it’s all amazing. You probably know the movie but this is a not-to-be-missed picture book.
Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson, illustrated by Reggie Brown
When Deja is worried that Santa isn’t real, not to mention he’s worried that he couldn’t get into their apartment building, Mommy helps Deja see how the Christmas magic works. Santa has a magic key that opens up all the apartments in the world, he can use the roof to land, and the Christmas lights in the neighborhood guide the way. In fact, Mommy has answers for all Deja’s questions. And she discovers that Santa is real after all…
The Last Stop on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck, illustrated by Karl James Mountford
The geometric designs give the book’s beautiful illustrations a Scandanavian feel while the peek-through spots invite readers into an immersive story about a girl named Mila separated from her beloved grandfather. Mila wants to send her Grandpa a Christmas letter but he lives so far away that it won’t arrive in time. Luckily for Mila, she opens a magical door that leads to the Reindeer Express. There, she travels on reindeer to deliver her letter and return home as if no time has passed.
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Little Blue Truck is delivering Christmas trees to his friends. Practice counting — one to five and back again. You are going to read this story again and again.
The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli
Trust me, you’re going to LOVE this book. The illustrations are to die for! Pizzoli tells the story of an exasperated father elephant as the mom keeps giving him more and more gifts. By four calling birds, he’s downright annoyed. What’s even funnier is the little kid elephant is having the time of his life while his dad is getting more and more annoyed. Soon the room is filled with ladies dancing, pipers piping, turtle doves, and all the gifts. Hilarious!
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Cale Atkinson
HILARIOUS! Santa is very suspicious that Harold is not even REAL. So Santa decides to wait on Christmas morning and see if Harold is really real. A new Christmas favorite around here!
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
We ADORE this picture book story — where no Pirate cookies are harmed . . . Jim and his mother make gingerbread pirates and leave out the pirates for Santa. Jim keeps Captain Cookie on a plate next to his bed. Captain Cookie worries about his crew – where are they and will they be eaten by the cannibal Santa Claus? When Captain Cookie meets Santa, he learns the meaning of Christmas, when Santa makes him a real toy and gives him his own ship.
Hey, You’re Not Santa! by Ethan T. Berlin, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor
Santa forgets a gift and needs to go back to get it from the North Pole so he asks Cow to step in and pretend to be Santa. But the little boy is NOT fooled. He knows that Santa doesn’t eat the Christmas tree, Santa remembers his reindeer’s names, and Santa doesn’t bring his own milk. This is NOT Santa! Very funny!
Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
If you like your Christmas books to be funny and clever, and especially if you’re a fan of Mother Bruce, you won’t want to miss this new picture book. Bruce is a grumpy bear who wishes he could just stay in bed all winter long and skip Christmas. But his animal family wants fun, festivities, and family time. To make matters worse, the other forest animals are sure that Bruce is actually Santa Claus. But he’s NOT. This assumption grows and grows making life worse for Bruce and funnier for us, the readers. Finally, Bruce gives in and becomes “Santa Bruce.” And everyone (except Bruce) is very happy!
Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Highlights Hidden Picture Storybook by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Deborah Melmon
Not only will you introduce your children to this classic Christmas poem but kids get an interactive, wintery search and find on each richly illustrated page. LOVE!!
Christmas Too Big by Colleen Madden
When Kerry’s family overdoes Christmas, she visits her Spanish-speaking neighbor’s house where it’s quiet and special. She loves spending time with her neighbor, dancing and singing, and decorating with paper flowers. She even helps Mrs. Rojas video call her family members. Back at home, Kerry finds a balance in her own Christmas traditions. Beautiful artwork with speech bubbles and colorful fonts make this beautiful book very memorable. (Although the cover art does not capture the story well at all.)
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
In the spirit of paying it forward and conservation, Mr. Willowby cuts off the top of his too-tall tree and that tree becomes the perfect new tree for many others including Miss Adelaide, Timm, Barnaby Bear, Frisky Fox, Benjamin Rabbit, and the Mistletoe Mouse. They each love the little smaller but perfectly sized tree for their own celebrations. So sweet!!
Santa Baby by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox
If you like funny books, you’ll love this laugh-out-loud story about an aging Santa who wishes for youth and becomes a baby! Now Baby Santa can’t even talk. The Elves try everything to turn him back. Will Christmas be ruined? Baby Santa gets a plan– he draws a diagram and tries really hard to say three little words to inspire the elves: HO-HO-HO. The elves take Baby Santa as they deliver the gifts, not expecting Christmas magic and generosity to transform the baby back into an adult.
How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish
A brother and sister share their best tips for catching Santa in this hilarious Christmas picture book.
The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
Gloomy Mr. Fish is worried that he won’t find gifts for his friends in time for Christmas. Like me, kids will love the familiar repeated stanza and help from the lovely Miss Shimmer who teaches Mr. Fish that the best gifts come from the heart.
Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares
Red and Lulu are birds who live together in a beautiful evergreen tree until the tree is cut down and moved into New York City for Christmas. Unfortunately, when the tree is moved, Red gets left behind. He searches and searches until he finally finds his beloved Lulu in the now festively decorated Christmas tree. Together they enjoy the holidays, then find a new place to live in the city afterward This lovely story and illustrations capture the beauty of Christmas in NYC and how love prevails.
Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno, illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer
What a delightful Nordic Christmas version of the Three Bears! Only in this tale, Goldilocks is Santa Claus who finds the “just-right” pudding, chair, and bed.
The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds
Roland’s excitement for Christmas morning is ruined when he sees a very tiny present. He wishes for something bigger — much bigger. But, it turns out that maybe bigger isn’t better. Maybe the best gift is the family who loves him.
Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco
A sweet story about two children who are spending their first Christmas without their beloved Gramma and with a new housekeeper, Kay Lamity, who rocks their boat in lots of good and wonderful ways. The siblings learn that most unforgettable gifts come from your heart. Amazing.
The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen
Beautiful photographs accompany this story of young Anja who leaves her Nordic home with hopes to be one of Santa’s elves. She skis north and encounters many animals along the way.
The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup
As you count the days of Christmas, it’s fun to see the peek through pictures, each page adding more of the gifts from calling birds to piper’s piping. This beautiful book gives kids lots to discover and uncover.
If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, DON’T by Elise Parsley
A funny twist on the bearded guy stories! Because this bearded guy is a pirate. At the mall. In line for Santa with you… In a silly cause-and-effect series of events, if you teach the pirate not to pillage and plunder, he won’t make anybody walk the plank. (Or will he?) Then when you suggest singing to pass the time in line, he will sing pirate shanties that scare the other people in line. What will happen when you get to the front of the line to Santa? The pirate will make Santa will walk the plank which means you better put him in time out. On a chair. Where Santa used to sit…
The Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker, illustrated by David Small
It looks like an old-fashioned Christmas — all except for the Crocodile! What will they do with him? First, they lock him in the basement. The next day when the family wakes up in the morning, they discover that the Crocodile has EATEN every single present. NO! Now, what will they do? Very funny, you’ll love this one.
The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Jerry Pickney
Hannah is a poor woman who finds one boot while gathering wood. She’s so happy and wishes for the other boot to match. Not only does she get her wish but she learns that Santa Claus is missing his boots. When she returns his boots, Santa gives her new boots, mittens, and a dog to keep her company. I’m a big fan of Pickney’s illustrations, how about you?
Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker by James Mayhew
We’re big fans of Ella Bella and thoroughly enjoyed Ella Bella’s magical trip into the Nutcracker story – and as a parent, I appreciated how Mayhew made the story kid-appropriate and beautiful.
The Berenstain Bears’ Old-Fashioned Christmas by Jan & Mike Berenstain
This Christmas will be old-fashioned like when Gramps and Gran were little — with no TV. They’ll be singing carols, cutting Christmas trees, hanging ornaments, baking gingerbread people, and spending time with each other. If you’re wondering what to do for Christmas activities, read this Christmas book.
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin
“At Christmas we give, so give it your all” is the jingle you’ll be singing after reading this new Pete the Cat story. When Santa falls ill, he calls Pete the Cat who delivers the gifts in a VW bus pulled by reindeers. So groovy.
The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
These Christmas moments of quiet from the author of The Quiet Book feel deeply soothing. Some of my favorites are “Bundled up quiet,” “Cocoa quiet,” and “Listening for sleigh bells quiet.” Illustrator Renata Liwska’s muted colors perfectly complement the book’s peaceful mood.
Hey, You’re Not Santa! by Ethan T. Berlin, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor
Santa forgets a gift so he needs to return to the North Pole so he asks Cow to step in and pretend to be Santa. But when a little boy meets the Cow Santa, the boy is NOT fooled. Because Santa doesn’t eat the Christmas tree, he remembers the reindeer’s names, and doesn’t bring his own milk. A funny twist to the Santa story!
Ready, Set, Find Christmas by Zondervan
Seek and find different items in the illustrations showing the Christmas story in this chunky, tabbed board book. Can you find . . . a goat, the moon, a kitten, . . . and so forth? You’ll love how interactive this preschool Christmas book is.
Who Is Coming to Our House by Joseph Slate
This has been a favorite story to read around Christmas time in our home. “Who is coming to our house?” ask the animals. They prepare the barn for “someone, someone.” Will you be able to guess who it is?
Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman
I like this sturdy Christian Christmas board book because it makes putting baby Jesus to bed relatable — like any other baby, squirmy and wiggly. (Only in his room there’s a braying donkey and sweet-smelling hay.) When the singing angels get too loud, mama asks them to keep it down. But there are visitors, too and it looks like baby Jesus will never get to sleep.
Christmas in the Stable Touch and Feel by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Virginia Allyn
Lovely illustrations, tactile pages for touching, and simple, rhyming text invite readers to enjoy the First Christmas experience. “Mary, weary. Joseph too. Ox and cow softly mooooo.” Touch the donkey’s fur, the scratchy straw, the baby’s blanket, and the sheep’s fur.
The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda
You won’t find a more beautiful Christian Christmas book than this story with gorgeous white and gold pop-ups illustrating the story. It’s exquisite!! Each page is an incredible work of art! This book will be a new family favorite. (For older kids since little ones might not do so well with the delicate 3D art.)
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft
Oh, my goodness is this a sweet story. It begins with a kind ox who welcomes a stray dog into the barn because all are welcome. And on this beautiful night, another little one will be arriving and welcome, too.
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson
We really love this story. Mortimer is a mouse who is looking for a home. He finds a barn with statues which he pushes out when he goes to sleep. However every day, the statues get put back. Then, he hears the story of baby Jesus and the statues. That’s when Mortimer lets the baby Jesus statue stay sleeping in the manger. It’s a sweet story of the real meaning of Christmas. Mortimer prays for a new house — and his prayer is answered with a gingerbread house!
A Night of Great Joy by Mary Engelbreit
The Christmas is retold with children acting in a Nativity performance — which makes these Engelbreit illustrations even more adorable than usual. Lovely.
Nativity by Cynthia Rylant
Cynthia Rylant shares a simple look at the story of Jesus’ birth and life with gorgeous artwork.
Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne
Beautiful illustrations capture the familiar carol that celebrates the first Christmas night.
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren, illustrated by David Hohn
Little Cub is confused about what Christmas means. Mama Bear takes him outside on a journey to see God’s work and explain the meaning of Christmas starting with Jesus’ birth. She includes the excitement of Santa as a symbol of the generosity of the season.
All the Colors of Christmas by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by Gillian Gamble
Immerse yourself in the holidays with colorful experiences in lyrical text and colorful sites. From red to green and white and gold, Christmas is so many colors. Filled with candlelight, angel wings, baby Jesus, and jingling bells, this is a sensory read celebrating traditions and faith.
A Savior is Born by Patti Rokus
Simple text on a black background with rocks that illustrate what’s happening in the Bible story. It’s gorgeous, unique, and memorable.
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer
Humphrey is a camel who helped the three wise men journey to Bethlehem. On the way, he loses his blanket and plots to get a new one. But he gives his beloved blanket to the Baby Jesus when he meets him. Selflessness!
‘Twas the Evening of Christmas by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Elena Selivanova
The Night Before Christmas familiar poem is rewritten here with the story of Jesus’ birth. Pretty amazing!
Christmas Love Letters from God Bible Stories: A Lift the Flap Book by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Rachel Clowes
This is a lovely, multi-dimensional Bible-based picture book that includes the story of Jesus’ birth starting from Isaiah’s prophecy and concluding with the Wise Men. Each section tells part of the story, shares a Bible verse, and has a lift-the-flap letter from God to you, the reader.
Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You’re Never Too Little for His Love by Max Lucado
Itsy and Bitsy, two mice, don’t think they’re big enough to be loved but learn that God sent Jesus for everyone. This is a sweet story for readers who want a Christian Christmas story.
Mouse’s Christmas Gift by Mindy Baker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Mouse can’t find Parson so he arranges the Nativity figures in the church all by himself. But where can Parson be? Unfortunately, he’s sick with a fever and cancels the service. Mouse hopes that by lighting the candle, people will still come to the church– and they do.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
For Christmas, a widow and her son ask a wounded, gruff woodcarver named Jonathan to recreate their beloved Christmas Nativity figurines. As he works, the young boy named Thomas visits him regularly, softening Jonathan’s hard heart and leaving him open to the miracle of the Christmas story.
Babushka A Christmas Tale by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Amanda Hall
Warm illustrations showcase this Russian folktale. When the three wise men invite Babushka to join their journey, she declines so that she can finish all her chores. When she finishes, she can’t catch up so she finds needy children along the way and gives them gifts — a blanket, a shawl, and so forth. My kids were fascinated!
A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman, illustrated by Susan Gal
Starting at Christmas Island, see how children around the world welcome Christmas and Santa. In Australia, Santa uses a magic key to open the front door. Kids leave him crispy, fruit-filled “White Christmas” treats with a cool glass of milk or beer. In Indonesia, children put their shoes near the door and leave him nastar cookies filled with pineapple jam. Read about the various traditions in South Africa, Malawi, Egypt, Russia, Norway, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and many more countries. Then, find delicious cookie recipes to make that will give you the taste of countries around the world. YUM! I can’t wait to try these recipes.
Walk This World at Christmastime by Big Picture Press, illustrated by Debbie Powell
Who doesn’t love a lift the flap book? This doesn’t just have flaps to lift with information underneath, it’s the coolest global book about how different places celebrate Christmas from Canada to Brazil, Holland, the Philippines, and more. The illustrations are busy but overall this is an interesting glimpse into other cultures’ celebrations.
Joy to the World Christmas Around the Globe by Kate DePalma, illustrated by Sophie Fatus
The rhyming text introduces readers to Christmas traditions from 13 countries including Australia, Columbia, Serbia, and Lebanon. Colorful illustrations and cool border art make the book a feast for the eyes as well and the back matter gives more information about each tradition such as Simbang Gabi in the Philippines and Making Kuswar in India.
How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith
Make this book your new favorite Christmas tradition!! Each day of December leading up to Christmas Day, read part of the story and do one of the activities. The grand adventure begins with a kind mouse named Winston who finds a letter meant for Santa. He sets off on a journey to find Santa and deliver the letter. And it’s a wonderful, well-written story filled with heart. What’s more, is you’ll get inspired to do all sorts of Christmas activities from crafts like making a paper tree garland or a snow globe to activities like a Christmas scavenger hunt. Won’t this be wonderful to share with your kids?
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig (ages 8+)
Despite being poor and lonely, Nikolas is a kind Finnish boy whose pursuit of his dad leads him to the North Pole. When he finally arrives at the Elf village, he’s imprisoned by mistrustful elves but Nikolas’ magic helps him escape. Not only does Nikolas save the kidnapped elf child and regains the elf’s trust, but he decides, after years of living there, to make Christmas very special for all children. Just how special? Well, I think you know! I couldn’t believe how much I loved this book. Well-written and quite charming. Almost fairy tale-like.
The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig (ages 8+)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
In a word: HILARIOUS. The Herdman siblings aka. the worst kids in the history of the world are participating in this year’s Christmas Nativity pageant. But they’re not familiar with the story and it’s a hilarious interpretation of events — along with some unexpected disasters and miracles.
Santa on the Loose! A Seek and Solve Mystery! by Bruce Hale Are you seeing red? Because Santa’s toys have been stolen — and this picture book is filled with red. Mr. Claus and you must find the clues hidden on each page to find the culprit in this engaging Christmas-themed search and find book. We’ve done it several times and love the challenges!
Beginner’s Bible A Christmas Celebration Sticker and Activity Book (Zondervan)
Read, learn, sticker, and color through the Biblical Christmas story.
Noodles Doodles Christmas by Jess Volinski
Christmas coloring pages that you can use for creativity, relaxation, and inspiration!
Paint by Sticker: Christmas
Create your own Christmas mosaics with stickers!
Christmas Is Coming An Advent Book by Katie Hickey
I wish this book was around when my kids were little. It gives you ideas for Christmas traditions to celebrate the month of December including recipes, crafts, games, carols, and more.
Christmas to Color by Mary Tanana
Lovely, intricate (aka. challenging) black-and-white Christmas coloring page designs adorn each page just inviting you to get creative. Which one will you choose first? (And where are my reading glasses?)
Mary Engelbreit’s Color Me Christmas Coloring Book by Mary Engelbreit
Filled with Christmas-themed Engelbreit’s classic stylized images for kids to color.
The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book 15 Designs to Spread Holiday Cheer by Chris Mcveigh Step-by-step picture directions skillfully show how to create these wonderful LEGO ornaments. Ornaments such as a poinsettia, wreath, gingerbread house, and lantern. My kids are so excited to make these projects.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
If you love the movie and its characters, don’t miss this special calendar of envelopes that are filled with mini books, mementos, ornaments, and more!
Harry Potter Hogwarts Advent Calendar
My kids and I LOVE this cool calendar with a huge Christmas tree pop-up with 25 mini ornaments. The tree will absolutely blow you away!
National Geographic Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils
Kids will love this educational option with panels that reveal polished rocks, gems, and fossils!
Lindt Holiday Chocolate Teddy Bear
Unwrap a chocolate every day in December until Christmas. Delish!
Fisher-Price Little People
From December 1 to the 24th, find new wintery figures and Christmas accessories like a tree and gifts. We love this one!
Barbie Advent Calendar
Open the door to find accessories and clothing!
LEGO Star Wars
365 pieces including mini-vehicles and Mandalorian Season 2 characters is perfect for any LEGO and Star Wars fan.
Funko Pop Harry Potter
Both my daughters love these calendars — because cute mini Funko pops are AH-MAZING.
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