The Christmas season is one where family time is encouraged and cherished, and one never-failing way to enjoy quality time with your kids is to spend time reading with them. Of course, any books will do! But if you’re looking for a few stories, tales, or tomes that specifically relate to the holiday season… we’ve got your back. Check out this list of Christmas-themed books we’ve curated for you and your kiddos of all ages.
Well-Known Character Books
1. It’s Christmas, David!
Oh, David. He’s gotten in trouble, he’s gone to school, he’s been smelly… and he’s gotten into a lot of mischief. This time, he’s getting into Christmas! With so many brightly wrapped gifts to peek at, formal parties to be bored at, and funky tree ornaments to break, how is a spirited kid like David supposed to resist? How is he supposed to be good for Santa, who he knows is watching?
2. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
How an animal with such an annoyed expression on its face has become so beloved by children all over the world, we’re not sure. But he is! He’s back, it’s Christmas, and he looks just as ticked off as usual. So far we know that he likes Valentine’s Day, Easter, and pumpkins (so obviously he likes Halloween!) so it’s no surprise that he’s into Christmas too! This cool take on the traditional “Night Before Christmas” comes with a downloadable song AND stickers!
3. Llama Llama Holiday Drama
This young furry quadruped is adorable, mischievous, and speaks in some pretty catchy rhymes. His adventures so far include spending time with grandparents, going to school, wearing colorful pyjamas, learning to share, and missing his mama. In this particular story, Llama Llama, like most young ones, is pretty tired of waiting for mama while she shops for gifts, rushing to decorate the tree, and other holiday-related things. It must be time for a cuddle!
4. The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition
Although this mischievous little elf has lately become a pain in the you-know-what for many, many parents, the kids still love it. Many of them have never read the book before and so the story of Santa’s little helper may help them with context. This is written in first person, from the elf’s perspective and explains that he flies back and forth from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole to report on the kiddo’s behavior. Better not pout!
5. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
It’s hard not to love this trusty little automobile. Jill McElmurry’s illustrations are so sweet, and the little blue guy is so helpful! In this particular story, little Blue is making the rounds and delivering Christmas trees to all of his adorable animal friends, including the goose, cow, pig, and goat. The sturdy pages make this one a great gift for toddlers – it’ll be a favorite in no time at all.
6. Clifford’s Christmas Presents
Clifford and Emily Elizabeth have a lot to do on Christmas Eve to prepare for the holiday ahead. They have to buy gifts, wrap the presents, decorate the tree, and play in the snow. And after all this work, the big red dog has a dream about the goodies Santa will bring him, and readers get to lift up the flaps to discover what exactly he’s dreaming about. It’s colorful, it’s interactive, it features classic characters… and it’s Christmassy! A perfect read for little ones awaiting their own gifts on Christmas morning.
7. Pig the Elf
Is he a dog? Is he a pig? Is he an elf? Pig the Pug is all of these things! So far, this greedy, chubby little dog has tried a lot of things and gotten into a lot of trouble – he’s fibbed, he’s starred in a photoshoot, got super stinky… and now he’s got it in his mind that he needs allllll the Christmas presents. The rhyming text is fun, the goofy illustrations are fun, and the lesson about holiday greed is both fun AND important. It’s a great book all around for kids – and parents, especially the greedy ones – of all ages.
Television and Movie Favorites
8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
We’ve all seen the classic animated Christmas special, have likely watched the gut-busting Jim Carey comedy and perhaps viewed the new computer-animated version featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. But have you ever read the original Dr. Seuss book? You and your kiddo will love the telltale Seuss rhymes, the illustrations of plump-cheeked Whoville natives, and the adorable expressions of Max the dog. Merry Grinchmas to all!
9. The Polar Express
A young boy wakes during the night on Christmas eve and finds himself being invited onto the Polar Express – a steam engine bound for the North Pole. It’s a very nostalgic story, supporting the classic idea that belief and trust in Father Christmas will bring about a perfect holiday. And the artwork is simply gorgeous! The parents will especially enjoy this artwork while the kids can fall dreamily into the story.
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington doesn’t want to be scary, terrifying, or frightening anymore. He wants to bring happiness! Perhaps kidnapping Santa and taking his place wasn’t the greatest idea and Jack learns a great lesson in the true meaning of Christmas. This definitely isn’t your typical holiday storybook, but even ghosts, goblins, and skeletons can turn out to be loveable! And who doesn’t want to introduce their kids to Tim Burton’s legendary work?
11. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Classic Story
There are few Christmas icons more famous than Rudolph, and the fan-favorite stop motion televised version is the best of the best! This book commemorates 50 years of televised Rudolph joy and brings the story of Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, and sweet Clarice to the page. The illustrations are lovely and the story is unforgettable. Kids and parents both will have it memorized in no time.
12. A Charlie Brown Christmas
This is the perfect gift for anyone who loves the Peanuts gang and the classic television Christmas special of the same name. The illustrations are bright and beautiful; the characters are visibly smelly, bossy, musical, and lacking in self-confidence (as always); and Charlie Brown’s realization of the true meaning of Christmas is just as heartfelt as you remember it being on tv. Your kiddos will love it, and you’ll love reading it.
Especially For Little Ones
13. Olivia Helps With Christmas
That Olivia. She’s some pig! And she’s some helper! She helps to put up the Christmas tree, help feed her brother, help hang the stockings… and all the while she tries SO hard to wait patiently for Santa. But waiting is hard! But just as she saved the circus, worked as a spy, formed a band, went to Venice, and became a fairy princess, Olivia is the heroine of waiting for Santa. She’s got this! And your kiddos will love waiting with her!
14. The Nutcracker
If you’re looking for a simple way to introduce your toddler or young one to the classic Christmas story of Clara and her prince, this little Bedtime Classics board book is the perfect solution. There are only one or two sentences on each spread, the colors are bold and bright, and the characters are adorable. It breaks the story down into easy steps while still allowing your child’s imagination to soar! It’s entertaining and is sturdily constructed for toddlers, but also appeals to adults thanks to the timeless story and great illustrations. Win-win!
15. A Christmas Carol
If you’re looking for Christmas-themed books specifically for toddlers and smaller tykes, BabyLit is where it’s at. Simple words, simple pictures, simple themes. But so sweet, so pretty, and so fun to read! And A Christmas Carol is no different – parents get the joy of reading a classic piece of literature while the child gets the joy of being read to. A classic Christmas story for tiny tots. What could be better than that?
16. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad
Everyone’s favorite Little Critter is back and he’s ready for Christmas! As per usual, this furry friend tries very hard to help out. He tries baking cookies, bringing the ornaments to the tree, making a Christmas wreath… and although only some of these attempts work out, his antics sure do amuse us readers! Filled with the same fun artwork and heartwarming characters as Mercer Mayer’s other books, this one is sure to be a Christmas classic in your home.
17. The Twelve Days of Christmas
Here’s another one for your littlest of little ones. The sturdy board-book pages, cheerful and whimsical illustrations of woodland creatures, and the lyrics of one of the holidays’ most beloved carols all contribute to make this the perfect book for your babes and toddlers. You can sing to them, help them identify animals, and teach them the numbers 1 through 12, all while rocking them to sleep. In fact, you can probably read/sing this with your eyes closed yourself!
18. The Snowy Day
While adults may see snow as cold, cumbersome, and annoying, children always greet a fresh snowfall with eyes of joy and wonder. This tale by Ezra Jack Keats perfectly captures the magic of new snow and has been a beloved classic since its publication in 1962. It was the first kids’ picture book to feature an African American hero! Plus, the urban setting is unique; most similar books are set in the country. So gather up your multicultural city-dwelling family and settle in for a great winter read!
To Delight the Elementary School Ages
19. Bear Stays Up for Christmas
As most of us know, bears hibernate in the winter. But this means they miss out on the joy of Christmas! But not this Bear. His friends are determined to keep him awake so that he can experience all the wonders the season brings, especially finding a Christmas tree, baking, hanging stockings, and singing carols. This sweet story will remind kids that giving feels just as good – and often better! – than receiving. That goes for children AND bears!
20. I Spy Christmas
Your kids have read allllll the I Spy books, including I Spy Spooky Night, I Spy School Days, I Spy Mystery, I Spy Fun House… and dozens more. Your babes and toddlers can even read the board book versions! This Christmas version will engage your kiddos just as all the others have, plus give them the joy of searching for beloved holiday objects. They can find five-pointed stars, silver bells, snowmen, and all kinds of other colorful items. It’s like a treasure hunt for Christmassy things!
21. How to Catch an Elf
This tiny tome is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, and for good reason! Written in a catchy rhyming verse format, the spunky elf in this story tells readers how sneaky he is and which traps he can easily dodge. The rhymes make this super fun to read aloud, and your kiddos will no doubt want to catch their own elf pretty soon! There’s also another version available, How to Catch a Leprechaun, for other, more green holidays.
22. If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t!
Do you have kids who love pirate stories? And who also love stories about Santa? Then this is the perfect Christmas book for them! They’ll meet a loud, rude man with a big belly and a white beard… just like Santa, but not Santa. And then they’ll meet actual Santa! Yes, it’s an odd concept, but it’s also a phenomenal concept! Your kids will love this mashup of worlds and you can also use this as a lesson in manners because – as the book points out – pirates are NOT polite AT ALL.
23. The Nutcracker
- Little Simon
- Hardcover Book
- New York City Ballet (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 40 Pages - 09/20/2016 (Publication Date)...
You probably didn’t know that a ballet company could write a book, did you? The New York City Ballet has proven this to be true! Legendary choreographer George Balanchine is the genius behind the NYC Ballet’s beloved production of The Nutcracker and his masterpiece is brought to life on the pages of this book. This classic story and precious artwork will fascinate your kiddos, especially your tiny dancers.
Special Books For Tweens and Teens
24. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
So you think YOUR kids are bad? Meet the Herdman siblings: Ralph, Imogen, Leroy, Ollie, and Gladys. They are officially THE worst. They’ve done everything from smacking random people to setting fire to toolsheds, so when they show up at church (for the free snacks, obviously) and get involved with the Christmas pageant… people are worried! Will these hellions learn about the true meaning of the season? Will the pageant be a success? Read on for more info!
25. Let It Snow
For those kiddos who love to read but are maybe too old for board books, etc., this collection of stories is a perfect option. I mean, what teen/pre-teen wouldn’t want to read a Christmas-themed short story by John Green? There are also stories by Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, and all are about the antics of townspeople in Gracetown on Christmas Eve. Love, romance, and holiday spirit abound! Oh, and it’s been made into a movie for Netflix too!
26. Doctor Who: Twelve Doctors of Christmas
Calling all Whovians! Here we have a collection of 12 short stories, each featuring a different doctor in a different setting, with a different set of challenges. It seems that a Time Lord Christmas is one that includes joy and charm as well as challenges and strife. True fans will relish the mentions of past doctors and past events, but even those not acquainted with the good Doctor(s) can enjoy the sweet and sometimes tacky nature of these stories.
27. Letters From Father Christmas
It seems that J.R.R. Tolkien was as amazing a father as he was a writer of fantasy. This book is a collection of letters that Tolkien’s children received from “Santa” over a period of twenty years or so. The letters contain stories about reindeer and polar bears (among other things), hand-drawn illustrations, and references to all of the Tolkien children, even when they’ve passed “the age of believing.” The sweetness and sentiment in this book are unmistakable – and hopefully will be passed on by your own kids as they write their letters.
Now, just because this list focuses on Christmas books that kids of all ages will enjoy, that doesn’t mean that you have to be embarrassed if YOU enjoy them too! Classic stories stay with you for life, so falling in love with these books is totally normal! You can – and should! – also, share your own childhood holiday favorites with your family and pass on the joy. Well, it’s time to stoke up that fire (or flip that electric fireplace switch), pour the hot chocolate, and call your kiddos over to snuggle under a holiday-themed throw blanket on the sofa. It’s storytime – Christmas edition!