Inside: Christmas books for kids that celebrate the magic, joy and wonder of this meaningful holiday!
The Best Christmas Books for Kids Evoke the Magic of the Holiday Season
Christmas books for children are plentiful, that’s for sure! There are an abundance of holiday stories published each year around the world, making it seemingly impossible to wade through them all.
But this list? The Christmas books for kids on this list are timeless. Beautiful. Diverse.
They are pure magic.
These books don’t just celebrate the holiday, but they celebrate everything Christmas is about. Family, friends, giving, peace on earth and gratitude for the abundance of joy that can be found around us.
Perhaps even more importantly, they show a diverse array of families celebrating the holiday in their own vibrant homes, whether here or around the world. What a wonderful way to show children the similarities they have to families of all colors, backgrounds and sizes as they celebrate this joyous holiday, as well as the amazing unique traditions make every celebration special.
RELATED: Looking for gifts for the holidays? Check out our Ultimate Book List with more than 200 titles for all ages and stages!
There are so many Christmas books out there, that putting together this list seemed like a daunting first. But when I began looking through piles and piles of stories, it’s not hard to find what sticks out and which books are destined to become modern classics.
Through illustrative beauty, pitch-perfect writing, and stories that elicit joy and celebration, these are our favorite Christmas books for kids. Enjoy!
Happily Ever Elephants Favorite Christmas Books for Kids!
A World of Cookies for Santa, by M.E. Furman and illustrated by Susan Gal: This fabulous book came out last year and details the varied ways in which children worldwide prepare themselves for Santa’s arrival. Santa doesn’t get milk and cookies in India. Instead, kids leave Christmas Baba (Father Christmas) a crispy fried treat called a kulkuls, together with a cup of spicy chai. And in South Africa, Kersvader arrives by donkey and children leave him hertzog cookies filled with apricot jam and topped with coconut meringue. Yum! This is a fascinating look at how Christmas is celebrated across the globe, filled with gorgeous illustrations to boot. Definitely a new favorite! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Loren Long: In this beloved Christmas poem, one of my very favorite illustrators puts a modern twist on classic words. Featuring stunning illustrations, four diverse families, and — of course — the magic of Christmas, this beauty is an absolute winner and one you will cherish for genarations!
The Broken Ornament, by Tony DiTerlizzi: More! More! More! Isn’t that what we all hear our children say all the time? Jack constantly wants more of everything, so when he breaks his mom’s old Christmas ornament, he doesn’t understand why she is so upset. Can’t they just buy more ornaments? Turns out, that dusty old ornament was his mother’s treasured heirloom, and Jack has much to learn about the true meaning of the holiday and Christmas spirit. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Pick a Pine Tree, by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis: This book so perfectly captures the joy inherent in each beloved Christmas tradition. From picking out the perfect tree to bringing it home and decorating it, from hanging stockings on the mantle to lights outside on the house, each of these beautiful pages celebrates family, tradition, and the excitement of the Christmas holiday. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg: You can’t celebrate Christmas without this marvelous classic, the story of a young boy who is welcomed aboard the Polar Express on Christmas Eve, right at a time he begins to question Santa’s existence. The boy’s magical journey to the North Pole reminds us that being a believer will keep us young at heart, and even as we age, the spirit of Christmas can continue to enchant. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t!, by Elise Parsley: In case your parents tell you that you are going to meet a guy with a beard, a red suit, and a sack full of treasures, chances are, they are not talking about a pirate. But if you do find a pirate, and you happen to bring him in line with you to sit on Santa’s lap, will he be naughty or nice? And can he change his swashbuckling ways? Such a fun and funny Christmas read! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Red & Lulu, by Matt Tavares: This book is just so perfect and heartwarming! Red and Lulu are two birds who make their nest in a majestic evergreen tree. But one day, the two are separated when the tree is chopped down and hauled away — with Lulu still in it! Red chases after the tree and finds himself lost in New York City. But when the magic of Christmas leads him to Rockefeller Center, Red finds his heart — and his home— amidst the holiday spirit. We also love Tavares’ newest book, Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Nutcracker in Harlem, by T.E. McMorrow and illustrated by James Ransome: In this beautiful retelling of The Nutcracker, set in Harlem during the peek of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, young Marie encounters a magical toy nutcracker — and finds her own music, as well. With jazz music instead of Tchaikovsky and a cast of Black characters, this lovely retelling breathes new life into the classic ballet, complete with an author’s note that gives children a brief background about this important period in history. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Little Reindeer, by Nicola Killen: Oh how I adore the illustrations in this book! This is one of those quiet, understated stories that breathes magic on every page. The story tells of a friendship between a little girl and a lost reindeer, and a Christmas eve the two will never forget. It’s a simple, sweet, and wondrous tale – complete with die cut pages and metallic ink – sure to become an enthralling family favorite. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Too Many Tamales, by Gary Soto and illustrated by Ed Martinez: Christmas Eve began so perfectly. Until, that is, Maria tries on her mother’s diamond ring for just a minute and then loses it in the masa she kneads to make Christmas tamales. Oh no! Maria needs to get the ring back, and fast! But the ring is inside one of the tamales! Whatever will she do? Well, she has to eat the tamales of course. Nothing beats Maria and her cousins’ animated expressions as they realize how many tamales they must eat in order to find Mama’s diamond! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
I Got the Christmas Spirit, by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison: A mom and daughter are enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas! Spreading Christmas spirit wherever she goes, the girl smells chestnuts roasting (CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!), donates money to the needy (JINGLE! JINGLE!) and sings carols in the street (FA LA LA!). This is a simple and joyous book, complete with a diverse cast of characters and message of peace, kindness, and love for everyone. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale, by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Jason Cockcroft: This is a gorgeously illustrated book that tells the story of all the animals sharing the manger — animals who are typically foes but instead rest together in harmony. At the end, Joseph and Mary arrive and Mary gives birth to Jesus, who is welcomed by all. A heartwarming and simple story that celebrates Jesus’s arrival in a manner even toddlers can understand. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Waltz of the Snowflakes, by Ellie Mackay: Do you remember the first time you saw The Nutcracker? This book is exquisite from start to finish, showcasing one child’s first experience at The Nutcracker ballet. It’s a dreary day outside, and upon being gifted tickets to the ballet, one little girl is totally unenthused. But as she sits down in the theater and the curtain rises, the child lights up, drawn in to the magic of the show, the beauty of the dancers… and a new friend. This one is stunning, and it brought me right back to my first time seeing a live ballet! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Jake Parker: If your kids love Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, don’t walk, but run out to buy them The 12 Sleighs of Christmas. When Santa’s elves discover Santa’s sleigh is totaled just before Christmas, the elves split into a dozen teams and set out to build Santa Claus a cool new sleigh — and Santa himself will decide which one to use for his special day. A fun new read aloud that will have kids marveling at the coolest sleighs imaginable, inspired by big rigs, motorcycles and zeppelins, too! And make sure to check out their newest Christmas themed read, Construction Site on Christmas Night! Another gem! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Silent Night and 12 Days of Christmas, by Lara Hawthorne: These two stunning books celebrate all the magic of Christmas through the words of two beautiful carols. Silent Night is a beautiful celebration of the Nativity Story, complete with diverse characters from around the world. 12 Days of Christmas is a visual dream, a walk through the beloved, traditional poem that takes readers on a journey through the sights and sounds of Christmas. Both are absolute wonders! Support independent bookstores and get these book on Bookshop.org right here!