Our Favorite Christmas Picture Books For Kids
Our Favorite Christmas Picture Books For Kids – These holiday picture books for kids are a perfect way to add a little magic to the season!
Many families, it seems, have a tradition of reading picture books around Christmas. Sometimes that means 24 wrapped books under the tree that you unwrap one at a time each day leading up to Christmas. Sometimes that’s a 12 days before Christmas thing, or a handful of special favorites out all season long.
We love keeping our Christmas picture books out all season long to read and enjoy. We have SO many fun memories of snuggling up by the Christmas tree in mountains of blankets reading Christmas books, and it’s so fun to “catch” my kids on the couch flipping through book after book.
We’ve been doing this for about 6 years now, and have lots of favorites to share. (Note: I skipped things like The Grinch and The Polar Express, simply because they’re so well known). Here are some you may not have heard of yet, plus lots that will become family classics in no time!
1. A World of Cookies For Santa
This has been our favorite for the last few years–we LOVE traveling around the world to see how children celebrate Christmas Eve + to see what cookies or treats they leave out for Santa. The art is beautiful, and there are even some recipes in the back if you want to try baking something new!
2. Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree.
All the Maple & Willow books are darling–these two sisters have an adorable bond and tend to stick together, but this Christmas book is probably my favorite. What do you do when you discover one of you has a Christmas tree allergy? Maple and Willow team up for a spectacular solution.
3. The Knights Before Christmas.
For the little adventure-seeker in your house, this twist on the favorite carries the same rhythm and tempo as the traditional Night Before Christmas story, but with a lot of funny (and pun-y) add-ins as the knights try to defend their castle against and unknown invader. Except that jolly invader is Santa himself. Watch Santa penetrate the knight’s best defenses and both sides win the battle in this very excellent holiday tale.
4. Gingerbread Pirates.
This has been a really different year for me Christmas books-wise and I totally credit my adventure-loving children. Both my kids loved this story of gingerbread cookie pirates who have to navigate Santa, find their ship, and figure out what this Christmas business is all about.
5. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger.
This is Sophie’s favorite this year. It’s a sweet story of a mouse who finds a great house just his size to move into. The problem is, there are all these little statues inside! No matter how many times Mortimer moves them out, someone keeps putting them back in. Then, one night, Mortimer hears the story of who these little statues really are. It’s a great little discussion for the Nativity story. We really enjoyed it.
6. Samurai Santa.
No one is more surprised than I am that this book made the list. It was a surprise find–after Gingerbread Pirates and Knights Before Christmas, this one kept popping up. This was in the same family as our other Christmas adventure books, and Sophie just loved it. Like, a lot. We typically keep all our (many) library books in the living room book area so they don’t get lost, but Sophie begged and begged us to let her take this one up to her room. We let her.
The main character, a boy named Yukio just wants to have an epic snowball fight, but all the other ninjas don’t want Santa to think they’ve been bad this year. So, Yukio decides to set a trap for Santa, raising the intruder alarm when he arrives. What happens? Well, let’s just say everyone’s Christmas wishes are granted.
7. The Red Ranger Came Calling.
This is one of my very favorite Christmas books of all time, and I don’t say that lightly. I actually laugh every time I read it. The illustrations are that good. The book takes place during the Great Depression when the main character (a boy who’s sort of lost the magic of life) is sent to stay with his Aunt Violet. Aunt Vi does her best to make the season special, but Red isn’t having any of it. Spying some suspicious behavior near a neighbor’s house, our little hero decides to investigate. What he finds is a tired old man with a lot of elvish friends. Does little Red dare let himself believe? Even those with the hardest of holiday hearts will soften a bit at this mostly-true Christmas tale with a surprising (and very satisfying) photo at the end.
8. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas.
We’re big-time Blue Truck fans, and this was one of our favorites last year. The story follows the same pattern as the other Little Blue Truck books but with some fun holiday add-ins. Plus, the book lights up at the end, which more or less made my children’s lives.
9. Olivia Helps with Christmas.
One thing I love about Olivia books is that they’re enjoyable on a few levels. My kids love the simple, silly story, and Michael and I get a kick out of the little details (the parents’ exasperation, the “Ski Gstaad” poster in Olivia’s bedroom) in the background. Definitely a good one.
10. Bear Stays Up for Christmas.
I’ve said it before, but our kids LOVE bear books. This Christmas picture book is one of our favorite picture book series and it’s just as charming as the others. Simple rhymes, cozy illustrations, and just the right thing to read while sipping a mug of cocoa or crunching on warm popcorn.
11. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree.
My mom gave this Christmas picture book to us a few years ago, and we LOVED it. It’s a story of pass-along Christmas cheer as each character finds someone to share a Christmas tree with. The drawings are very nostalgic and my kids really liked this story.
12. The 12 Sleighs of Christmas
Santa’s traditional sleigh is a little worse for wear, and his elves want to make him something new. Time’s ticking as the countdown to Christmas continues, and the elves start a contest to create the most spectacular holiday sleigh around. Little vehicle lovers (and kiddos with a funny bone) will get a kick out of the elves’ creations!
13. Dream Snow.
In our minds, Eric Carle can do no wrong. This book features a Santa lookalike farmer who falls asleep and dreams everything is covered in snow. The illustrations are beautiful as always, but they also come with transparent pages that overlay snow onto the drawings. You can uncover the snow-covered animals one by one, and it’s even got a secret button in the back you can push to play a twinkly song at the end. Two thumbs up.
14. The Nutcracker
The New York City Ballet brings the magic of their live performance to a picture book! This gorgeous Christmas picture book tells the traditional Nutcracker tale, complete with dazzling illustrations, graceful movements, and a lot of fun! (Note: it is a bit wordy, but you can easily summarize or gloss over details for shorter attention spans.)
15. The Nutcracker in Harlem
If you’re somewhat familiar with the tale of the Nutcracker (see the last book for a refresher!), you’ll love this Jazz-inspired retelling set in the height of the Harlem Renaissance.
16. Silent Night.
This gorgeous book puts beautiful illustrations to the traditional Christmas carol lyrics. It’s sweet, gentle, and lovely.
17. The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold.
We’ve heard stories of kids who stop believing Santa is real, but have you ever read one where SANTA stops believing a kid is real? Santa’s got a sneaking suspicion that everyone’s been trying to trick him about Harold. Turns out, Harold’s not sure if everyone’s been tricking him about Santa. Laugh your way through the funny illustrations and find out how they each learn the truth in this funny Christmas picture book.
18. Little Robin’s Christmas.
This sweet little story about a bird who thinks of others will quickly get kids in the giving spirit. (Maybe follow up your reading with a holiday service project–donate old toys or buy new ones for a family in need, gather pantry goods for a food drive, or drop treats off to neighbors!
19. Last Stop on The Reindeer Express.
This book is GORGEOUS!! It’s a new read for us this year, and the fun peek-throughs and creative pages will draw you right in as you follow Mia on her way to deliver a card to her grandma.
20. Construction Site on Christmas Night.
We have LOVED this Construction Site series from Sherri Duskey Rinker, and this Christmas version is as sweet and fun as the others. If you’ve got a vehicle lover at your house, this is a must-read.
21. The Crayons’ Christmas.
These crayon books are so funny! A group of big-personality crayons that belong to a little boy named Duncan are back to celebrate the holidays! I love that this funny book includes pull-outs, activities, and pockets filled with fun surprises to make the story more interactive. Your kids will love this silly Christmas picture book!
22. Santa Rex
Nothing says Christmas quite like…dinosaurs? Molly Idle makes the BEST illustrations. Your littles will love this fun and funny story of Cordelia’s (cretaceous) Christmas party.
23. The Story of Holly and Ivy
This story is a 3-in-1: Ivy (an orphan) longs for a family of her own. Holly (a doll) wishes for a child to bring her to life, and Mr. & Mrs. Jones are hoping for a son or daughter to share their holidays with. You’ll love how these stories come together!
24. All the Colors of Christmas
New for 2020, this Christmas picture book is so pretty! I ordered it immediately after seeing it on Here Wee Read’s Instagram. It’s even better in person! This little book walks you through all the colors of Christmas–red for candy canes and sleds, etc.–but also touches on blue, white, gold, and brown. I love how all the colors come together so sweetly.
25. Merry Christmas Peanut!
The Peanut Butter & Cupcake series from Terry Border is made of photographs and miniatures and my kids get such a kick out of it! This book tells the story of Peanut’s journey to visit his grandma on Christmas Eve, and all the friends he meets on his way.
SHOP OUR PICKS:
What are YOUR favorite Christmas books?
p.s. if you’re going to go the book-a-day route, Simple As That has these cute printable advent tags that would be perfect!
LOOKING FOR MORE HOLIDAY IDEAS? YOU MIGHT LOVE:
- Fun Stocking Stuffers For Kids
- Stocking Stuffers For Him & Her
- Our Favorite Family Games
- The Under $20 Gift Guide
- Self-Care Gifts For Any Budget
- The Small Business Gift Guide
- How to Make Hot Chocolate Spoons (+Free Printable Gift Tags)
- Stovetop Christmas Potpourri (+Free Printable Gift Tags)
- Our Holiday Traditions
We’ve read Dream Snow, and Mr Willowby’s Christmas tree, but we’ll definitely have to check out a lot of the other ones on this list too!
Great list! We will definitely check those books out, especially the Eric Carle one.
This isn’t book related but it is holiday related…have you come across any GF/DF gingerbread house kits?
We haven’t, but I’ve been LOOKING! We’d love to do one. I’m guessing we’ll have to try the GF graham crackers (which kills me since they’re so expensive!) If you ever find one, please let me know! I’d love to track it down!
I hear ya! They are so pricey! ? And yes! I will definitely let you know if we come across one!
Our family’s favorite Christmas book is called Closing the Book on Santa Claus by Ron Chandler. It is about a father who tries to save his daughter’s holiday celebration after it is cancelled at her school. He organzies a rally at city hall, but unexpected calamity prevails. It made us rethink the importance of the holiday. And everyone enjoyed the story.
I haven’t heard of that one! Checking it out now!
i love this list, thank you! we love “Snowmen at Christmas”.
Isn’t that a cute one? I love those snowmen books!