20 Family Favorite Christmas Books

One of our family’s favorite Christmas time traditions is pulling out our humongous green storage tote filled to the brim with our much loved Christmas books. What a joy to find an old favorite to curl up with under a fleece blanket! If you’re looking for a few new GOOD Christmas books, I encourage you to be on the lookout for some of these. I’ve found mine at Goodwill and other thrift stores as well as library discards and Amazon.

Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of Christmas books from chapter books to board books for babies. Every morning following our Advent devotional the day’s helper gets to pick out one Christmas book for me to read.

Here are a few of our family’s very favorite Christmas books:

Chapter Books/Short Stories

Holly & Ivy – Rumer Godden

Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney’s luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.

This is one we read year after year!

I Saw Three Ships – Elizabeth Goudge

A little girl living in an old English seaport town wants to leave the doors to her family cottage open around Christmas, just in case the Three Wise Men come to visit.

The Birds’ Christmas Carol – Kate Douglas Wiggin

A tear-jerker but our favorite Christmas read-aloud this year!

Carol Bird, a Christmas-born child, who as a young girl is unusually loving and generous, having a positive effect on everyone with whom she comes into contact. The book is a wistful moral tale about a saintly child, but is enlivened by many humorous scenes.

Letters from Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien

Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or painting. The letters were from Father Christmas.

They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more.
No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by Tolkien’s inventiveness in this classic holiday treat.

The Gift of the Magi – O Henry

In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store.

The Family Read-Aloud Christmas Treasury – Selected by Alice Low

Fifty-four works of well-loved poets and authors compose this holiday collection.

This is a good book to read a little bit in every day. Perfect for a Morning Time.

Picture Books

Papa Panov’s Special Day – Leo Tolstoy

The heart-warming story of lonely shoemaker Papa Panov’s generosity reflects the true spirit of Christmas.

A new family favorite!

The Clown of God – Tomie dePaola

In this retelling of the old French legend, a juggler offers to the Christ Child the only Christmas gift he has.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – Susan Wojciechowski & P.J. Lynch

Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver the valley. He keeps to himself, though, and never smiles or laughs. No one knows that a lace handkerchief, a tiny white blanket, and the portrait of the wife and child he’d lost lie hidden in a drawer that never opens. One day, a widow comes to call. Would he be able to carve a creche for her in time for Christmas? And would he allow her young son to watch while he carves it?

Christmas in the Barn – Margaret Wise Brown

With gentle, lyrical text from Margaret Wise Brown and heartwarming illustrations from Caldecott Honor-winning artist Diane Goode, Christmas in the Barn introduces young readers to the story of the first Christmas.

The Legend of the Candy Cane – Lori Walburg

One dark November night a stranger rides into a small prairie town. Who is he? Why has he come? The townspeople wish he were a doctor, a dressmaker, or a trader. But the children have the greatest wish of all, a deep, quiet, secret wish.

Then a young girl named Lucy befriends the newcomer. When he reveals his identity and shares with her the legend of the candy cane, she discovers fulfillment of her wishes and the answer to her town’s dreams. Now will she share what she has learned?

The Mole Family’s Christmas – Russell Hoban

A classic, out-of-print (1969). 

The Mole family learns about Christmas and builds a chimney so that Santa Claus will be able to visit them.

Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree – Robert Barry

Christmas is here and Mr. Willowby’s tree has arrived! There’s just one big problem . . . the tree is too tall to fit in his parlor. He cuts off the top so it will fit, but little does he know that the top of that tree will travel clear across the countryside, bringing holiday cheer to the homes of bears, rabbits, mice, and more! This heartwarming story is the perfect way to start your yuletide season, and the perfect addition to your family’s festive holiday traditions.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas (A Scented Storybook) – Patricia M. Scarry

It’s time to celebrate the sights and smells of Christmas in this classic scratch-and sniff book. Join Little Bear as he prepares for the holidays, all the while giving readers a chance to smell six wonderful scents including apple pie, Christmas tree, hot chocolate, and more! This delectable treat is a perfect way for families to spend the yuletide season.

Night Tree – Eve Bunting

By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods.

The Nutcracker – E.T.A. Hoffman, Pictures by Maurice Sendak

The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.

The Pine Tree Parable – Liz Curtis Higgs

The Pine Tree Parable tells the heartwarming tale of a farmer and his family who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.

When the trees are tall enough to offer to their neighbors, the farmer’s wife plans to keep the most beautiful pine tree for her family, until one snowy December night when a child teaches her the true meaning of Christmas.

The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale – Aaron Shepherd

Van Amsterdam the baker was well-known for his honesty as well as for his fine Saint Nicholas cookies. He always gave his customers exactly what they paid for — not more and not less. So, he was not about to give in when a mysterious old woman comes to him on Saint Nicholas Day and insists that a dozen is thirteen!
The woman’s curse puts an end to the baker’s business, and he believes it would take Saint Nicholas to help him. But if he receives that help, will it be exactly what he imagined?

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…

There are countless renditions of Clement C. Moore’s classic holiday poem, The Night Before Christmas, but none is cozier or more full of joy than this one, brought to magical life by one of America’s most cherished and highly-acclaimed illustrators, the late Tasha Tudor.

A collection of stories which describe the experiences of a pioneer girl and her family as they celebrate various Christmases In the Big Woods in Wisconsin, on the prairie in Indian Territory, and On the banks of Plum Creek.

There are SO many Christmas books out there. Do you have a family or personal favorite? 

Merry Christmas!




Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

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