The 20 Best Christmas Books to Get the Whole Family in the Holiday Spirit
by Bethany Braun-Silva
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We found the best Christmas books for kids!
Gathering the family up to read a beloved holiday book is one of the best ways to celebrate the season. There are so many great Christmas books to choose from, and each year it seems we get to add more and more classics to the list.
Much like an advent calendar, creating a reading schedule of your favorites is a great way to countdown to Christmas. You can also do a Christmas craft, bake Christmas cookies, and top it off with a great book for an entire day of merry fun!
RELATED: Easy Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids
Perhaps you’re partial to a Grinch whose heart grows three times its size. Or maybe, you’ve taken to a newer Christmas hero who sits on your shelf (or hangs from a ceiling fan). There are also classics like “The Night Before Christmas” and “The Polar Express,” which are sure to bring your right back to your very own childhood Christmases.
We’ve also included books that celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanza. Do you want Brer Rabbit to explain your special holiday? Or a family of latkes to share the story of Hanukkah? Whatever you celebrate, we have our own unique list of Christmas books to read with your special gifts this season that are sure to delight the entire family.
Below, check out our list of the best Christmas books for kids.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The Elf on the Shelf
The Elf on the Shelf How exactly does Santa keep tabs on who’s naughty and who’s nice? Turns out he’s got a mole—the elf on the shelf—who comes packaged with a companion book. The elf mysteriously changes locations overnight, and kids love looking for him as soon as they wake up in the morning. Bonus for parents: Since the elf’s always watching, you should be able to milk major good behavior out of your kid. Is it any wonder this made our list of best Christmas books for kids?
The Night Before Christmas
We all know the magical, evocative words of Clement C. Moore’s traditional holiday poem. This gorgeously illustrated version, which uses collage papers and oil paints, adds a modern twist: Santa wears funky pants, sports dreadlocks and leaves the children traditional African gifts. This is one of the classic children’s Christmas books for a reason.
Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas
Nancy’s psyched about the holidays until her ultra-fancy tree topper breaks. Can the ultimate girly-girl learn to love plain old DIY tree decorations? As always, the detailed, sparkly illustrations in this Christmas book make it a fave among the princess set.
Pete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of Christmas
Looking for appropriate Christmas books for 5-year-olds? If your kiddo is a Pete the Cat fan, then this is a must-have stocking stuffer. Pete and his pals put their cool spin on the famous Christmas carol…five onion rings are better than five golden rings, right?
Dear Santa: I Know It Looks Bad, But It Wasn’t My Fault
This is one of those Christmas stories for kids who can be naughty at times. In his letter to Santa, Scalawag wants to clear up a few misunderstandings about incidents that took place during the year and adds what he would like for Christmas. However, when someone he loves ends up in the emergency room, Scalawag writes another letter to Santa asking for a different gift, one that shows he learned the true meaning of Christmas.
Lovers of Eric Carle’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar will recognize the same iconic collage illustrations in this wintry tale about a farmer who dreams about a white Christmas. Like Caterpillar, the pages hold extra interest for young readers, with cutouts and counting. One of our must-have Christmas books for babies and young readers.
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is another important celebration that takes place during the holiday season. Brer Rabbit meets African tradition in this tale of a rabbit looking for something special to give his sick grandmother for Karamu, the Kwanzaa feast.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dr. Seuss’s classic is probably one of the most popular Christmas stories for kids. After all, what would Christmas be without the Grinch? Your kids will be delighted by the dastardly character, who plots to cancel the holiday, only to find it happens anyway, even without the presents.
Olivia Helps With Christmas
The plucky piglet gets her house ready for Christmas, “helping” her parents in the most unhelpful ways possible. The charming black and white illustrations — punctuated with green and red accents for the holidays — play off the spare words to tell the whole story. Perfect if you’re looking for books for 5-year-olds.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
You may think that Oct. 31 is way too early to start thinking about Christmas, but the two holidays collide in this book based on the movie of the same name, both by Tim Burton. Bored with the tricks of Halloween, a skeleton sets out to take over as Santa — a story told in rhyme and illustrated with spooky drawings. Definitely one of the most unique Christmas stories for kids.
Meet the Latkes
This is an instant classic holiday book for children. When Lucy Latke’s grandpa tells the story of Hanukkah, it’s obvious the potato pancake family needs to learn a thing or two about the holiday— (Maccabees, not Mega Bees). It’s up to the family dog to teach them the true story about Hanukkah.
Snowmen at Christmas
Snowmen are essential characters in most children’s Christmas books, and their secret life is revealed in this gorgeously illustrated tale. Snow families gather in the town square, sing carols and get their own visit from “the snowman Kris Kringle” before reassuming their positions in the front yard as dawn breaks.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
This is one of the most perfect Christmas books for kids and babies. The beautiful story tells the tale of Kind Ox, Old Dog, Stray Cat, and Small Mouse, who make room for one another in the small stable next to an inn. Whenever a smaller animal enters the inn, the larger one states, “There’s always room for a little one here.” When Tired Donkey stops in carrying Joseph and Mary and asks for a room, the response is still the same.
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Christmas stories for kids don’t get any cuter! When Olive the dog hears the phrase from the popular Christmas tune “all of the other reindeer,” she concludes she is “Olive, the other reindeer” and heads to the North Pole to join Santa’s team. Doggie high jinks ensue.
The Polar Express: 30th Anniversary Edition
All aboard! This tale of children hopping on a night train to visit Santa at the North Pole is pure holiday magic.
Do you have a dinosaur lover in your home? If so, grab this Christmas book for kids. When Santa finds an egg in the North Pole, he sits on it to see if it hatches — and ho, ho ho, it’s a dinosaur! Then, Santa accidentally gives dinosaur fan William Trundle the real dinosaur instead of a toy for Christmas! However, a naughty man named Hunter wants the dinosaur for himself.
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
Take a trip back to 1912, on the Lower East Side of NYC, where five girls prepare for Hanukkah. When Gertie throws a tantrum because she isn’t allowed to help them, she is punished and sent to her room. But when Papa arrives home, he gives her the best gift of all, which is lighting the first candle on the menorah.
The Wild Christmas Reindeer
The highlight of this tale about an elf charged with training Santa’s reindeer for their annual Christmas ride is the rich artwork by author-artist Jan Brett. Intricate scenes of elf workers busily prepping for the big day frame the main story, so kids discover something with each reading. Add it to your list of Christmas books for 5-year-olds and up.
Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bell, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May)
Kids love Junie B. because she speaks their language—grammatical errors, G-rated bad words and all. The irrepressible Junie B. tangles with class tattletale May in this holiday version of the popular series, and then it gets “worser:” she finds out she has to be May’s secret Santa. Will she get into the Christmas spirit?
Construction Site on Christmas Night
Vroom! If your child loves Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, then they will adore this Christmas book. Excavator, Bulldozer and friends are building a special gift on the construction site, but they don’t know there is a surprise waiting for each of them!