Season’s Readings: Christmas Books for Kids

Share classic Christmas stories and new favorites with your family this Christmas.

Share classic Christmas stories and new favorites with your family this Christmas.

Looking for a seasonal book to share with your family.

We’re happy to make some suggestions—21 of them, to be exact.

1. The Nutcracker

Not the original ballet, though you can borrow that from us too. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s tale has been re-imagined by everyone from Tom & Jerry to Barbie. It’s also inspired dozens of picture books. Our favorite is illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

2. Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig

Speaking of ballerinas … Angelina rescues a retired postman, Mr. Bell, from loneliness on Christmas.

3. Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A classic that reminds children of the value of belief. If your kid loves the book, they might enjoy the movie too.

4. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

This beautifully illustrated tale of a snowman that comes to life has no text. That makes it perfect for young children who want to tell you the story themselves.

5. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

The charming fable of a stick man who gets lost when a mischievous dog plays fetch with him. He wants to get back to his family before Christmas but he’ll need Santa’s help to do it.

6. Drummer Boy by Loren Long

Illustrator supreme Loren Long tells the story of an accidentally abandoned toy that finds its way to the nativity.

7. Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day

A picture book with few words but a surplus of charm. Carl, the family dog, must watch the baby on a busy Christmas Eve.

8. A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe and Michael G. Monroe

An evergreen wishes to be a Christmas tree, not realizing how special it is already to all the forest animals.

9. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Yolen and Teague’s dinosaurs teach kids about Christmas fun and etiquette. (They have a Chanukah book too.)

10. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

Teeka works on Santa’s farm, and she learns the value of being considerate while rounding up his wild reindeer before Christmas Eve.

11. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold

A mishearing of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” leads Olive, a well-intentioned pup, to assume Santa needs her help.


12. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

Dozens of world-class illustrators have offered their rendition of Moore’s perfect poem. Jan Brett and Tasha Tudor made two of our favorites.

13. The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown and Jim LaMarche

The lovely story of a lonely fir tree who longed to be part of a forest.

14. When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke and Paul Howard

A wacky romp starring Santa, an unreliable reindeer named Twinklestar, and Jeremiah Goblynch, the unsavory leader of the Council of Yuleland—wonderful for older kids.

15. The Legend of Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

DePaola retells a Christmas legend from Mexico about a young girl who’s afraid to give the baby Jesus her meager gift. DePaola’s written and illustrated about a dozen Christmas stories. They’re all splendid.

16. Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Brett Helquist

Dickens’ original might be a little heavy for younger children, but Helquist’s illustrations add vitality and humor without undercutting the story.

17. Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

Jonathan Toomey—a Scrooge in his own right who the neighborhood kids call “Mr. Gloomy”—is the best woodcarver in the valley. His life changes when a widow asks him to carve her a nativity scene.

18. Dream Snow by Eric Carle

Carle illustrates a farmer’s beautiful dream of snow.

grinch-1038238_128019. Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal and James Bernardin

In New York City in 1897, a young girl writes a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, asking for proof that Santa Claus exists.

20. Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne’s

Jack, Annie and the Magic Tree House visit Camelot, and they must save the kingdom on Christmas Eve.

21. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

We’re pretty sure you already know this one, but we weren’t going to not mention it.

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