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101 Best Christmas Books for Kids

This former teacher put together a list of the best 101 children's Christmas books for boys and girls. The list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books, and there are funny and serious, religious and non-religious, and just about every book you can think of. Plus, she double checked to make sure all of her favorites were rated 4 or 5 stars at Amazon, too! This list is amazing! Perfect for Christmas gifts!

As you already know, we are huge readers. We read every single day and listen to audio books in the car. I put together this list of top-rated Christmas books for kids to share with you. I haven’t read every one, so I included some I didn’t know that had 4 or 5 stars in the Amazon reviews.

And of course, all the ones I haven’t already read are sitting in my Amazon shopping cart because they look amazing. This post did not help my book addiction at all.

The list features a mix of religious and non-religious books because life is like that. I want my kids to know the real Christmas story, but I have no objection to them also reading about Santa and Bear and Fancy Nancy having Christmas too.

Books are in alphabetical order by title.

  1. The Animals’ Santa – A little bunny doubts that there is really a Santa, and he stays up late to find out if there is or not. This is written and illustrated by Jan Brett who is basically the best illustrator ever. I love all of her books, and I have included plenty of them on the list below.
  2. Apple Tree Christmas – Out of print since the nineties, this beauty was just recently re-released. Family togetherness, simple gifts, and overcoming hardship and disappointment are themes in this book.
  3. Babushka: A Christmas Tale – I like this story about an old grandma who was too busy to go seek the Prince of Peace with the wise men. When she realized the folly of her ways, she set out to follow them and gets distracted by little children who need help because they’re hungry or cold or whatever. Of course, she stops to help them and gives them a gift from her pack. This is based on a traditional Russian Christmas folktale.
  4. Bear Stays Up for Christmas – This is my all time favorite Christmas picture book. My beloved Bear (from Bear Snores On and other books) should be hibernating but his friends wake him up for Christmas. They have a little party, and he makes presents for all of his friends. And then he falls asleep and Santa comes and brings him the best present of all. There are so many wonderful lessons in this rhyming story. I just love it.
  5. The Berenstain Bears and the Christmas Angel – This story talks about Brother and Sister Bear making a snowbear into an angel and parlays that into a discussion of all types of angels from the Bible. It even includes some chapter references at the end for further Bible study.
  6. The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving – This is a typical Berenstain Bears book that begins with greedy cubs and ends up with the cubs giving some of their money to charity instead of buying themselves yet another gift.
  7. The Berenstain Bears, The Very First Christmas – This is exactly what it sounds like, a retelling of the Bible’s Christmas story told through the Berenstain Bears characters. It’s nice. Also cheap, under $3 when I last checked.
  8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – This is not a picture book. It’s a short elementary level chapter book, and it is laugh out loud funny. We just finished listening to the audio book, and we laughed the whole way through. It’s just hilarious and enjoyable for kids and adults alike.
  9. The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever – This is a cute little story about greediness and sharing. Nothing profound, but nice for the preschool set.
  10. The Biggest Snowman Ever – This is a cute little story about working together and friendship. Like the book above (part of the same series), nothing profound, but nice for the preschool set.
  11. A Boy Called Christmas – This chapter book is for ages 8-12 (240 pages) who have most likely stopped believing in Santa. It tells the story of Nikolas who everyone calls Christmas and the bad luck he endures before he takes a trip in search of his father. The reviews say that it’s hilarious and that this age really really loves it.
  12. The Carpenter’s Gift – This is a complex historical fiction picture book about a Depression-era family who donates their leftover Christmas trees to construction works and in turn find themselves with a new house donated by the construction works. The story goes on through many years and more donations. It’s a feel good story that talks about Habitat for Humanity and the history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
  13. The Christmas Boot – A poor old woman finds a nice boot in the snow and wishes there was a mate. In the morning, the mate has appeared and she is thrilled. Then a visitor shows up looking for the boots, and he changes everything.
  14. The Christmas Cat – You know me and my cats, so it was only a matter of time until I found this book and the next one. This one is about an abandoned stray kitty and two little boys in a warm house and the Christmas miracle that brings them together.
  15. The Christmas Cat – All the animals in the manger tried to soothe baby Jesus’ crying, but none were successful until a little kitten curled up next to him and purred. This purring kitten saves his life later on in the book. If you’re a cat lover, this is a must-read.
  16. Christmas Day in the Morning – Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck penned this story about a boy who wants to give his father a Christmas present that will adequately convey his love. The trouble is he doesn’t have any money to buy something, and he has to get creative to come up with something meaningful. Make sure you look for the hidden pictures in the rich illustrations.
  17. Christmas Farm – This feel good story is about a gardener and her five-year-old neighbor, and how they set out to grow Christmas trees to sell. It’s a little long, but older kids will love the story of hard work and determination and the joy in a job well done.
  18. The Christmas Fox – All the animals are preparing for baby Jesus, thinking of what gifts they can give to celebrate his birth. The little fox thinks he has nothing to give, but he finds out that’s not the case.
  19. Christmas in the Big Woods – This is a picture book based on Little House in the Big Woods. It’s about the traditions of Christmas, not about getting loads of presents. Also, I love the illustrations.
  20. Christmas in the Manger – This board book is a perfect first Christmas book for young toddlers. The text is short and the illustrations are vibrant. It’s not the Christmas story exactly but talks about the animals and baby Jesus.
  21. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – This story is going to make you cry. It’s sort of like the movie Up where it starts out with a lonely, mourning man and ends up with his finding a new family. It’s not to be missed; you will love the heartwarming story and its endearing characters.
  22. The Christmas Owl – This is a story about an owl who needs to depend on the kindness of the forest animals. As you might imagine, they are not eager to step up and help him out. It is written with a nice rhyme and is pleasant to read.
  23. The Christmas Tapestry – The bottom line of this remarkable story is that God has a plan, and God’s plan is good. It’s a complicated story, but it’s essentially about an angry little boy whose father just moved the family from Tennessee to Michigan and how he ends up reuniting two people separated during the Holocaust. I haven’t read this one, but the reviews make it sound like it’s not to be missed.
  24. The Christmas Wish – This book is about a little girl who wants to become one of Santa’s elves. It is illustrated with gorgeous photos of her with various animals in a snowy landscape, and the story is all about the love and kindness of strangers.
  25. The Crippled Lamb – Anyone with a special need will identify with and find hope in the lamb in this book. The illustrations are oil paintings and breathtaking. Written by Christian author extraordinaire, Max Lucado, this story is sure to inspire all kids who feel a little different (which is basically ALL KIDS).
  26. Dream Snow – This beautiful Eric Carle book is best for the tiniest toddlers. Its short simple story is about a farmer who puts on a red suit to deliver presents to his animals.
  27. The First Christmas Night – This book is a line for line knock off of Twas the Night Before Christmas, except that it tells the actual Christmas story about Mary and Joseph and Jesus. The text is wonderful, rhyming and perfectly cadenced, and the illustrations are stunning oil paintings. I think everyone who celebrates Christmas should read this one.
  28. The Friendly Beasts – This Tomie dePaola classic illustrates the English Christmas carol’s words. And if you want the tune to go with it, check out my favorite version which is on Garth Brooks’ Beyond the Season CD.
  29. The Gift of the Magi – This is a children’s storybook based on the O. Henry short story about a very poor young married couple, each of whom makes a great sacrifice to purchase the other a Christmas present. It’s a little too poignant for my taste, but the Amazon reviews say it’s not to be missed.
  30. God Gave Us Christmas – This is a Christian themed-book that’s not specifically about the story of Jesus’ birth. It chronicles the conversation between a mama bear and her cub where he asks questions about Christmas.
  31. Happy Birthday Jesus – This is a board book to bring home the idea that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday to toddlers. It’s well done but won’t appeal to older kids.
  32. Here Comes Santa Cat – What’s not to love about a snarky cat who knows he’s been naughty and dresses up like Santa to bring himself presents? This book is hilarious.
  33. Home for Christmas – From one of my favorite authors, Jan Brett, this story is about a little troll who runs away from home. As you might have guessed, he comes back just in time for the best Christmas ever. The illustrations are top-notch.
  34. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? – This is a cute book that teaches little ones about what is right and wrong at Christmas. For example, “Does Dinosaur sneak out of bed on Christmas Eve?” “No, he stays tucked in snug and safe and waits for morning.” That’s not an exact quote, but you get the idea. Dinosaur loves will love this book because it is part of a 10 book series about what dinos (and little boys and girls) should and shouldn’t do.
  35. How Santa Got His Job – This is a cute story that explains what Santa did when he was a young man, before becoming the deliverer of gifts. Your kids will love all the different things he tries.
  36. How to Catch Santa – This is a how-to book asking questions about Santa. It’s written for little ones who still believe, but it does question things like “How do the reindeer get everyone in one night?” and “How do you squeeze down my chimney?”
  37. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – My favorite favorite Christmas movie is the original animated Boris Karloff How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and this book is the script of the movie. It’s a long story but it is absolutely wonderful.
  38. Humphrey’s First Christmas – This is about a cantankerous but lovable camel who loses his blanket. In the end, it’s a story of compassion, love, and giving. I have this on our library wish list.
  39. Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You’re Never Too Little for His Love – This book is not related to the next two, which are actually part of a series. This one is written by Max Lucado and has a very simple message for small children – God sent Jesus for us all. That’s it. I’d say this one is best for the under 7 crowd.
  40. Itsy Bitsy Reindeer – I love this wonderful board book. Mostly for toddlers, it is a poem to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider. Your wee ones will love it.
  41. The Itsy Bitsy Snowman – See Reindeer above.
  42. J is for Jesus – This is very similar to The Legend of the Candy Cane below, but this one is for toddlers. It’s a shaped board book that is written in rhyme but stresses how the candy cane reflects Jesus.
  43. Jingle Bells – This Little Golden Book was originally published in the sixties and is now back in print again. It’s the story of a bunch of Richard Scarry characters who help Santa to deliver the presents on Christmas Eve. It’s got the words to the song mixed in with a “new” story.
  44. The Jolly Christmas Postman – This book is a treasure! It’s made up of little flaps and envelopes that contain “real” letters to and from storybook characters. The postman eventually visits Santa. Love love love. (If your kids are really into these kinds of books with letters and notes tucked inside, there’s an original Jolly Postman book too. Grace is going to go crazy for these two books.)
  45. The Legend of the Candy Cane – If you’re not familiar with how the candy cane harkens back to Jesus, you really need to read this book.
  46. The Legend of the Christmas Cookie – This is a story about generosity. A poor little boy is sad because his mother is making Christmas cookies for poorer people. He finds that she saved him one cookie on Christmas morning, and then he gives it away to someone in need.
  47. The Legend of the Christmas Stocking – This is a story about selfishness and generosity. Best for older kids, it is set in the late 1800’s. It’s about a boy named Peter who has worked hard to earn the money to buy a prized model ship and, after hearing a sermon at church about St. Nicholas, he decides to spend his money on his sisters instead.
  48. The Legend of the Christmas Tree – This story tells how we came to use evergreen trees to celebrate the Christmas season and how they point back to Jesus.
  49. The Legend of Old Befana – This popular book retells the traditional Italian story of Befana, who brings gifts to the children on the night of Epiphany (usually around January 6). This is essentially the same story as Babushka above about an old woman who’s too busy to go with the wise men to find the baby Jesus. Then she goes looking for Him and meets all kinds of children in need of care and love. This book is written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola which makes it kind of magical.
  50. The Legend of St. Nicholas – This begins as a story about a greedy little boy but soon goes into the real story of St. Nicholas of Myra and how he spent his life secretly giving presents to the needy.
  51. The Legend of the Poinsettia – This gem by award-winning author Tomie dePaola tells a story of giving that come from traditional Mexican folk tales. I met Tomie dePaola when I was in the fourth grade, and I’m excited about this book.
  52. Little House Christmas Treasury – We are rereading the Little House on the Prairie series for the third time, and I have always loved the Christmas pieces. This is not a picture book; it’s a collection of Christmas passages from all the way through all the different books. It’s easy to see that Christmas is not about what’s in your stocking.
  53. The Little Christmas Elf – This is a sweet Little Golden Book about a small elf who misses the Christmas Eve deadline with the bear she was making. It doesn’t go on Santa’s sleigh for the big night, and she is very sad. But at the end of the night, Santa returns with a need – a new baby has been born, and there was no present to give to it. The little elf gets to deliver her present in person.
  54. The Little Fir Tree – This treasure was written by Margaret Wise Brown who also wrote The Big Red Barn (one of our favorite board books which we still read most nights at bedtime).  It’s about a little tree who wants to be a Christmas tree, and then a man comes and digs him up and puts him by his sick son’s bedside. There is much more to the story, which is loosely based on a Hans Christian Anderson tale but with a very different ending.
  55. The Littlest Christmas Tree – The littlest Christmas tree gets left behind on Christmas Eve when all the other trees have been taken home to be decorated. He is very sad. But then something wonderful happens. Best for toddlers.
  56. The Littlest Elf – This is a short story about an elf who thinks he’s too small to be useful but finds out that even the smallest elf can make an important contribution. Little kids who feel frustrated about what they can’t do will love this one.
  57. Llama Llama Holiday Drama – This is the story of my life. Little llama asks his mother every day, through all the fun holiday things, how many more days nowI like the cadence of the Llama Llama books, and this is a good one.
  58. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad – This is a Little Critter book from Mercer Mayer. You’re not going to find high literature here, but it is an awesome story about the hapless Little Critter who tries really hard but messes up a lot of stuff.
  59. The Message of the Birds – In this story, a wise old owl tells the other birds about the first Christmas and how the birds used to sing its tale for the people. They don’t anymore, and one little bird asks why. The owl says it’s because people no longer listen, and the little bird convinced the others to try again. The illustrations in this book are superb.
  60. The Mitten – This story has delighted my children for years and years. It’s about a little boy who wants snow-white mittens, and then promptly loses one in the snow. Animals fill it up. This is a beauty typical of Jan Brett.
  61. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree – This is a classic story that some adults will remember from their childhoods! It’s about a rich man named Mr. Willowby and the huge Christmas tree he brings home. It won’t fit in the house, so they cut the top off and give it away. But the top is too big for the next space, and they cut the top off again and give it away. It keeps going like this until it has blessed many different people and animals. It’s a nice story about giving and friendship and blessings.
  62. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger – This book comes from the team behind Bear Snores On and Bear Stays Up for Christmas, so it had to be wonderful. Mortimer mouse moves in to a family’s nativity scene, removing all the figures. The family puts them back and then he takes them out and this happens over and over until the mouse hears the dad reading the Christmas story and realizes that he’s been making a big mistake. Great story.
  63. The Night Before Christmas – Every family should own a copy of this poem in book form. This particular one is illustrated by a famous artist, and the pictures are rich and detailed.
  64. The Night of Las Posadas – This book is retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola and tells about Las Posadas which is the Mexican tradition of re-enacting the walk of Mary and Joseph from house to house looking for a place to stay.
  65. Night Tree – One family’s unusual tradition of decorating a living Christmas tree in the forest using nuts and berries and other foods takes center stage in this picture book.
  66. The Nutcracker – You already know the story of the Nutcracker, but this book is a beautiful retelling with great painted illustrations.
  67. Olive the Other Reindeer – Olive is a dog who wants to be a reindeer, and she gets the chance to save Christmas when there is a hole in Santa’s sack. Cute little story.
  68. One Small Donkey – You don’t have to be big to play a big role. The little donkey in this story is jealous of the big sleek horses, but in the end, he does something great.
  69. One Wintry Night – A young mountain boy gets lots in the snow in a storm with an injured ankle, and he is taken in by a kind old woman who tells him about the Christmas story, all the way from creation to revelation.
  70. An Orange for Frankie – This book has all the elements of a good Christmas story – people in need, selfless actions, separation of a loved one, blizzard, happiness and appreciation for family and the little things in life that truly matter. It’s about a little boy, the youngest in his family, who wants nothing more than an orange for Christmas. Some of the reviewers compared this story to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods which made me want to get a copy and check it out!
  71. Over the River and Through the Woods – Okay, so this is technically a book about Thanksgiving, but I always through the song was about Christmas, so I included it. It reminded me of going to my Grandma’s house. This book has beautiful illustrations.
  72. The Perfect Christmas Pageant – When Hayley Hippo is asked to direct this year’s Christmas pageant, she decides that it will be the best one ever. Except it doesn’t really turn out that way, and Hayley and her friends learn an important lesson about the meaning of Christmas.
  73. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas – I’m not really familiar with the Pete the Cat books, but this one is supposed to be really good. Pete the Cat stands in for a sick Santa on Christmas Eve and reminds the reader that giving your all is what the season is all about.
  74. The Pine Tree Parable – This is one of my favorite Christmas stories about a Christmas Tree farmer and the tree should would not sell. It’s beautiful.
  75. Pinkalicious: Merry Pinkmas – We like Pinkalicious a lot. Even though she is happy at the end of this book because she got her way, it is still a good story about the traditions of Christmas.
  76. The Polar Express – This little boy is questioning whether Santa is real when he gets to go on a train to the North Pole and get his one wish answered by the big guy himself. Less about Santa and more about faith (faith like belief in something you can’t see, not faith like religion) and the magic of Christmas.
  77. A Pussycat’s Christmas – Another cute rhyming story by Margaret Wise Brown. It’s a board book, so it’s probably intended for the toddler to preschooler set, but this story will be loved by kids older than that, too.
  78. The Reindeer Wish – This is from the same author and photographer as The Christmas Wish and The Tiny Wish. It’s a story about little Anja’s wish for a puppy, and what happens when she gets a baby reindeer instead.
  79. Room for a Little One – I absolutely love this story. All the animals pile into the stable on a cold night, and then they make room for one more when the donkey comes in carrying a pregnant woman. It’s sweet and the illustrations are amazing. Love, love, love.
  80. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – This is the original Rudolph poem beautifully illustrated. Don’t settle for one that’s based on the tv movie or a watered down version. Go with this classic instead.
  81. Santa’s Favorite Story – I love that this story combines Santa with the real Christmas story of Jesus’ birth. In it, Santa goes for a walk in the woods, gets tired, and sits down. He thinks about not delivering gifts this year, and the animals get concerned. So he tells them that Christmas really has nothing to do with him at all and explains what it’s really all about.
  82. Santa’s Underwear – Every kid likes to talk about underwear. I think it’s just part of being a kid. Mine especially like to talk about them loudly and in public when they couldn’t find any to put on. Classy. Anyway, Santa can’t find his special holey underwear, and this is a bit of a catastrophe at the North Pole.
  83. Silver Packages – This is the story of a needy little boy who is visited by the real-life Christmas Train that runs through parts of Appalachia each December. He always gets a practical gift that is appreciated but doesn’t satisfy the longings of his heart. As a grown up, he works to change this.
  84. Snowmen at Christmas – Snowmen celebrating Christmas. What’s not to love? This is a sweet book with a silly story. It mentions Santa, but it also mentions the King of Kings.
  85. Snowmen at Night – This is the book that started the “Snowmen at…” series. Its rhyming text and captivating illustrations delight kids as they imagine what could happen to their own snowmen. Watch out for the surprise ending – it’s a good one!
  86. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story – This book is a twist on the typical Bible-based Christmas story. It is all about how nature – the ocean, the animals, the stars – reacted to the birth of baby Jesus. I haven’t read this one, but the reviews on Amazon rave about it, and I want to get my hands on a copy.
  87. Splendiferous Christmas – We are huge Fancy Nancy fans, and this installment does not disappoint. It seems like everything goes wrong for Nancy, but she remembers what Christmas is all about by the end. There’s no mention of Santa and very little about presents in this special book.
  88. A Star So Bright – Although it doesn’t explicitly mention the birth of Jesus, this book is all about how different animals took notice of the bright star over Bethlehem. Best for toddlers and younger preschoolers.
  89. Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening – This is my favorite poem, and I bought the book for Grace when she was about five weeks old. The books is words of the poem with beautiful illustrations.
  90. The Story of Holly and Ivy – An orphan wishes for a grandmother, a couple wishes for a child to complete their family, and a doll wishes for someone to love her. Can you see where this is going? Despite the predictability, this is a great story that was originally published in the fifties in the newspaper. Dusted off with illustrations added, it will make a great addition to your Christmas library.
  91. The Tiny Star – A tiny, insignificant star is chosen by God for a magnificent purpose. This book has a lot of talking points that relate to religious themes like God can use anyone, we all have a purpose, God knows our dreams, and more.
  92. Tractor Mac Saves Christmas – Tractor Mac is a series of books for tractor-loving preschoolers, and this edition is great. In it, a heavy snowstorm threatens to cancel the town’s tree lighting ceremony, but Tractor Mac runs to the rescue as he digs out a horse, fire truck, snow plow, and others. It’s a cute story.
  93. The Twelve Days of Christmas – I am in love with Jan Brett’s artwork, and this book is on par with the rest. It’s the song you already know but with gorgeous illustrations.
  94. Turkey Claus – Turkey is going to get eaten for Christmas dinner, so he sets out to enlist Santa to help his cause. The story is funny and will delight little readers and non-readers alike.
  95. Who is Coming to Our House? – This very simple board book is perfect for wee ones. It repeats the same text over and over as all the animals in the stable prepare for the arrival of baby Jesus. We read this a lot when our kids were babies.
  96. Who’s that Knocking on Christmas Eve? – Yet another wonderful book from Jan Brett. This one is about a little girl whose daddy goes out looking for trolls while the trolls are knocking on their door. It’s a little scary in some parts but everything turns out well in the end.
  97. Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect – This story is about a tree that wanted to be perfect so that the Queen would choose him as her Christmas tree. But then a bunny came along, and she let one branch droop to protect it, and then a sparrow needed rest, and it goes on and on. The last page says, “living for the sake of others makes us most beautiful in the eyes of God.”
  98. Wild Christmas Reindeer – Another beauty from Jan Brett. This one is about a little girl (I think it’s a little girl) who gets put in charge of readying the reindeer for Santa. Except she is bossy and mean to them, and everything goes all sideways.
  99. A Wish to be a Christmas Tree – This exquisitely illustrated story is all about kindness and love in action. The main character is a tree at the Christmas tree farm who gets picked over year and year, but his friends come through in the end and make him a beautiful Christmas tree in the forest.
  100. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree – This is a wonderful story that is probably going to make you cry. It’s about family and love and miracles. Even though it’s emotional, it’s a good emotional, like Let Me Hold You Longer and I’ll Love You Forever (but not creepy).
  101. You are My Miracle – This is another one that’s going to make you cry. It’s a board book intended for toddlers about all the things that parents share with their babies at Christmastime.

So I know you’re thinking, “But what about… ??” So tell me in the comments what I forgot. I can’t wait to read your suggestions!

© 2016 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

1 thought on “101 Best Christmas Books for Kids”

  1. Your list is great! Most all of the books I have found over the last few years and include in my Christmas countdown reading are on it. One that I do read that is one of our favorites, isn’t on your list and I know you would love it…..The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie. It is about what our gifts for Jesus are like helping someone in need, doing something charitable or other acts of kindness. One you should check out!! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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