25 Best Books To Read Around Christmas to Kids: Holiday Season

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Children's book covers arranged on a background of red holly all featured on the booklist best books to read around Christmas to kids with curly decorative fonts and a Christmas wreath with holly berries.

Best books to read around Christmas to kids. This list of Christmas books features heartwarming picture books pointing to the true meaning of Christmas. Reading time with my girls with cups of hot chocolate and cozy blankets is one of my favorite things about this time of year. This year, I am creating a new Christmas tradition for our home by wrapping 24 Christmas picture books and allowing the girls to lead up to Christmas morning. I believe it’s called the Christmas Picture Book Advent.

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Free Printables for Free Christmas Scavenger Hunt Bundle with three examples of picture finds, booklists, and lists, including indoor and outdoor hunts, decorated with watercolor Christmas-themed images.

A Festive Holiday Picture Book Collection: Best Christmas Books to Read to Kids

1. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston

Ruthie and her Papa find the perfect balsam tree up on the ridge. But before they can cut down the tree for the village, Papa has to go to the Great War across the sea. The Christmas season is hard without Papa, and Ruthie needs a dress to be an angel in the Christmas play. The illustrations of this Christmas picture book are beautiful, and the meaning of family and courage are woven together. I highly recommend this special book.

2. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

This sweet, heartwarming story is about a gruff widowed woodcarver, a widowed mom, and her eight-year-old son. The mom needs a nativity scene and seeks out the impatient and unapproachable woodcarver, Jonathan Toomey. The little boy becomes fascinated with the woodcarver’s skill and returns to watch him work. As Jonathan carves the nativity scene, his heart begins to soften, and the three share in the joy of Christmas and the power of love and kindness.

3. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry

Mr. Willowby is a wealthy man who buys a Christmas tree that is too large for his house. His butler trims the very top off. The top of this tree continues to be trimmed, shared and passed down to others. The delightful read is filled with whimsy and is a true delight to share with young children at Christmas.

4. The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown

This precious Christmas story is about a tree that dreamed of being a part of something such as a forest. Yet, the little fir tree stands alone in an empty field. Until one winter day, a man takes the little fir tree and becomes the center of a little boy’s special Christmas celebration. The story is a joyful read that brings out lessons of patience and perseverance.

5. Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury

If you love Jan Brett’s children’s books, then this is the perfect Christmas Treasury to add to your Christmas book stack.

The children’s treasury includes:
  • The Mitten
  • The Wild Christmas Reindeer
  • Trouble with Trolls
  • Twelve Days of Christmas
  • The Hat
  • The Night Before Christmas

6. Night Tree by Eve Bunting

On Christmas Eve, a family ventures into the woods guided by moonlight to decorate their favorite tree with popcorn strings, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed ornaments for the woodland creatures to enjoy. This book led to a Christmas family tradition of decorating a tree around our home with DIY birdseed pine cone feeders.

7. The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell

This book is a beautiful retelling of the Christmas story with stunning illustrations. “A very special King had been born—the King for all God’s people. This child was the promised New King! It presents the gospel clearly and concisely, reinforcing Jesus as the rescuing king—the forever King.

8. Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble

This sweet book is a beautiful, heartwarming story of the love between a father and his daughters. The family prepares for winter under the apple tree, picking and sorting apples. They seek the perfect apples for Christmas. An unfortunate winter storm leads to a Christmas blessing. Oh, I cannot tell you more, or I risk spoiling this story.

9. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

Joshua is a little lamb born with a crippled leg. He struggles to keep up with the rest of the flock. His best friend is a cow named Abigail. One day, the flock is adventuring to a new pasture to graze, and Joshua is left behind in the Bethlehem stable. This special story reminds us that God has a unique plan for His children.

10. An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco

Every year Pa travels to Lansing to gather oranges for Christmas gifts for each family member. But the wintry weather makes it difficult for him to return and the family begins to worry. I love that the author writes from the inspiration of her childhood. If you enjoy Patricia Polacco’s children books, check out The Christmas Tapestry (behavior, teasing, and references to PK, preacher’s kid which was very confusing for my young girls) and Gifts of the Heart (content references singing Dixie and deals with loss).

11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: Pop-Up-Book

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is retold and illustrated with colorful images of a Scrooge holding tiny Time in the street of the snowy little town on Christmas day.
A Pop Up Book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Reading this Christmas Classic about Ebenezer Scrooge is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. I have not linked a specific version because the one that we love is out of print. Barnes and Noble carries quite a few editions around Christmas time. If I find one in print that I love, I’ll come back and link it. I found many in second-hand bookstores.

12. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

This is a heartwarming Christmas tale of Ivy, a young orphan girl. Everyone in the orphanage has somewhere to go for the holiday, but she is sent to the infant care home on a train. She believes she can find a real home with “her” grandmother to stay with for Christmas in the town of Appleton. It turns out there is a town called Appleton. While exploring the town, she crosses paths with a childless couple. This is a good book but please note it is a longer read.

13. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

This book is a timeless holiday classic by the beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss. Our grouchy, green cave-dwelling friend decides to steal the joy of Christmas from the holiday-loving Whos. But, it turns out Christmas joy is not in wrapped packages. I love how Dr. Seuss captures the whimsy of Christmas!

14. Dasher by Matt Tavares

This is the story of Dasher, an adventure-seeking reindeer with a wish for a different life outside of the traveling circus. Her days are hard. She spends the days with her family in a traveling circus. One day, Dasher escapes. She doesn’t journey far before meeting a man in a red suit in a horse-drawn sleigh. This book is perfect for children who love animals, especially reindeer.

15. Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares

One day, the unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. They have spent most of their days living in a beautiful evergreen tree, shaded from the heat and protected and cozy in the cold months. They even enjoyed bright lights and carols on Christmas. Now, the tree is strapped to a trailer and headed to spread Christmas joy in New York City.

16. The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel

This picture book is a heartwarming story of Henry, an eight-year-old boy, and his father who gave a Christmas tree to the Rockefeller Center construction workers. In return, the workers build a warm home for Henry and his family, using wood from the first Rockefeller Christmas tree. This act of kindness leaves a lasting impression on Henry, and he plants a pinecone from that tree which grows into a beautiful tree. Years later, when Henry is an old man, he remembers the kindness shown to him and his family and decides to give back. The story is filled with hope, compassion, and cheerful giving, and the beautiful illustrations capture the magic of the holiday season.

17. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

This beloved children’s book captures the magic of Christmas. There is just something about Christmas and trains. Late on Christmas Eve, a young boy boards a mysterious train while the town sleeps. There is a question of unbelief and a gift of a bell. I cannot tell you more without spoiling the story. 🙂

18. The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

This delightful picture book is an enchanting retelling of the classic holiday tale that stays true to the original ballet. There are many versions, but Susan Jeffers’ illustrations bring the story to life.

19. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

I love the lyrical language of this classic holiday poem, and the vivid imagery of this edition is sure to build fun and excitement for the Christmas season.

20. Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant

Every Christmas, a train brings presents to all the children in Appalachia. And every year, one boy wishes for a toy doctor’s kit, yet he never receives it. I love the message of unconditional and cheerful giving. I find this book more for the adult reading than the children. It can be difficult for the children to grasp the message. But it still earns a spot on the Best Books to Read Around Christmas booklist.

21. Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

If you are a Kate DiCamillo fan, this is a great book to add to your Best Books to Read Around Christmas list. It is a heart-tugging story about a little girl’s concern for an organ grinder and his monkey who sleeps outside in the cold. A story of compassion and joy!

22. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

A newcomer has set up shop in a quaint prairie town, and it’s a candy store! Upon meeting his new young friend Lucy, he proceeds to share the legend of the candy cane. This delightful story is a wonderful way to share the gospel message with children during the holiday season.

23. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

If you love Tomie dePaola’s works, The Legend of the Poinsettia is a great addition to your Best Books to Read Around Christmas Booklist. In Mexico, the poinsettia is called the flower of the Holy Night because the red star-shaped bloom lines the countryside at Christmastime.

24. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

Rob doesn’t have much money to spend on gifts. So, he surprises his father with a special gift early in the morning on the farm. A true gift of the heart and the love between father and son!

25. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson

Karma Wilson’s Bear books are a favorite in our home. Mortimer, the little brown mouse, discovers the real meaning of Christmas, and may it be my girls’ favorite Christmas book. I included it last because this Best Books to Read Around Christmas Booklist is a heavy one packed with powerful messages, but I could not leave our little friend Mortimer out.

Interested in More Booklists for Kids: Check These Out!

27 Books about Snow: A Picture Book Collection

A collage of book covers featuring books about snow for toddlers and kids with cool-colored decorative snowflakes and black bold text.

Get the complete booklist HERE.

Food & Story Picture Booklist

Images of Children's book covers arranged in two rows over a teal background with bold text reading Food and Story books for kids. Book covers include images of colorful birthday balloons, dumplings, bowl of ramen, tamales, geese, picnic, and children.

Get the complete list of favorite books HERE.

17 Picture Books About Perseverance

Childrens books about perseverance are displayed on a purple background with big, bold, and black text.

Get the complete booklist of favorite children’s books about perseverance HERE.

More Booklists Coming Soon!

Thanks for Stopping By!

Lastly, thank you for stopping by! Please say Hi in the comment section and share your favorite Christmas classic to read or your favorite Christmas memory. Throughout December, our bookshelves and book baskets will be filled with fun, meaningful, and light-hearted Christmas books and a few board books, such as Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Charlie Brown Christmas for my youngest. But I will also read a few of my Christmas favorites like Little Women, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I might try to read Sherlock Holmes this year. I hope you and your children find a favorite book from this Best Books to Read Around Christmas to Kids Booklist.


– With Great Joy, Katie


Children's book covers arranged on a background of red holly all featured on the booklist best books to read around Christmas to kids with curly decorative fonts and a Christmas wreath with holly berries.

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