12 Great Christmas Books for Kids and Families

12 Great Christmas Books

The holidays are a sentimental and reflective time when families gather to celebrate traditions and create lasting memories.  As families commemorate this festive season, many turn to a bountiful selection of classic and beautiful picture books with stories that can be timelessly shared year after year. These books have the ability to slow readers down during the especially busy season, allowing the opportunity to refocus and connect on the meaning and magic of Christmas.  Creating a tradition of adding a Christmas story to the home library each year can be a heartwarming exercise that can benefit many generations- here are 12 of our favorite Christmas books, best shared over a cup of cocoa by the fire.

 

Santa Mouse

By Michael Brown, Illustrated by Elfrieda De Witt

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Barnes and Noble Books (1996)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Everyone knows that Santa Mouse is Santa’s little helper but how did it all come about? Find out in this charming story about a tiny mouse with no name who lived a very lonely life in a very big house. He loved Christmas dearly and had a special present for Santa, but how could he possibly give it to him? After all, he’s only a mouse. And how did a little ordinary mouse become Santa Mouse, the helper Santa could never do without?

 

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story

By Gloria Houston, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Puffin (October 1996)

This is a beautiful and heartwarming story about a small Appalachian village and the year they almost did not have a Christmas tree. Little Ruthie and her father had set out early in the spring to pick the perfect tree to serve as the village Christmas tree. But when her father goes off to war and has not returned by Christmas Eve, it is up to Ruthie and her mother to keep the village’s sacred tradition alive.

 

Stranger in the Woods

By Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick

Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Carl R Sams II Photography (November 1999)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Stranger in the Woods is a photographic fantasy that tells how the furry and feathered friends of the forest respond to a mysterious visitor. On the national and New York Times best-seller lists during the winter for 5 consecutive years, Stranger in the Woods has warmed the hearts of children ages 1 to 100.

 

The Polar Express

By Chris Van Allsburg

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (October 1985)

The Polar Express is a classic Christmas story that has warmed millions of hearts and has become a staple of the holiday season. A mysterious, magical train rolls up to a young boy’s front door, taking him on a spectacular trip to the North Pole. This unforgettable journey teaches the boy that the magic of Christmas is in believing.

 

The Nutcracker

By Susan Jeffers

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins (September 2007)

The world’s most beloved holiday tale is beautifully retold by Susan Jeffers in simple text and oversized illustrations.  These illustrations are truly what make Jeffer’s version of The Nutcracker unique, the lush watercolors invite young reader’s imaginations to join Marie on her journey with the Nutcracker Prince for an unforgettable experience.

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas

By Jane Ray

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Candlewick (September 2011)

Publisher’s Synopsis: In this lushly illustrated interpretation of the familiar Christmas carol, each spread offers surprises for the eye as nostalgic city scenes depict a multiethnic cast of characters bustling with packages and sprucing up their homes for the holidays. But at one home in particular, an endless succession of gifts keeps arriving: birds of all stripes, ladies dancing aboard a brightly bedecked boat, lords leaping on rooftops, and pipers piping up and down stairs. Filled with intricate patterns and whimsical flourishes, Jane Ray’s gorgeous artwork is the perfect match for this wonderfully cumulative tale.

With luminous artwork full of elaborate detail, the acclaimed Jane Ray brings new life to a classic holiday song.

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

By Dr. Seuss

Ages 5-9 | Publisher Random House Books for Young Readers (October 1957)

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!” Not since “’Twas the night before Christmas” has the beginning of a Christmas tale been so instantly recognizable. No holiday season is complete without the Grinch, Max, Cindy-Lou, and all the residents of Who-ville, in this heartwarming story about the effects of the Christmas spirit on even the smallest and coldest of hearts. Like mistletoe, candy canes, and caroling, the Grinch is a mainstay of the holidays, and his story is the perfect gift for young and old.

 

The Christmas Wish

By Lori Evert, Photography by Per Breiehagen

Ages 3-7 | Publisher Random House Books for Young Readers (September 2013)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. A generous trim-size, matte cover, and foiled title make this a special book for the holiday season.

 

The Night Before Christmas 

By Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Sterling (September 2007)

Publisher’s Synopsis: The Night Before Christmas is the most enduring and memorable of all holiday poems. Celebrated artist Gyo Fujikawa brings new levels of excitement and joy to the verse, concocting a variety of goodies to feed sugarplum visions. From the first lovable image of a pink-eared mouse to the final spread of Papa waving goodbye as Santa and his reindeer fly away into the sky, Fujikawa provides pure enchantment. Kittens and dogs curl up everywhere in the old-fashioned home; stockings hang by the fireplace; and a group of irresistibly adorable children nestle next to cakes, cookies, and candy canes on a bed of soft dreamy clouds. Young readers and adults alike will be mesmerized. This edition of The Night Before Christmas was originally published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1961.

 

Dream Snow

By Eric Carle

Ages 2-6 | Publisher: Philomel (September 2000)

Publisher’s Synopsis: It’s December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter’s nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow! It is in his dream that he imagines a snowstorm coming and covering him and his animals—named One, Two, Three, Four and Five—in a snowy blanket.  But when the farmer awakens, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something! Putting on his red suit, he goes outside, puts some gifts under the tree for his animals, and presses a button near a Christmas tree, creating a most surprising musical treat for children everywhere.

 

The Wild Christmas Reindeer

By Jan Brett

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Puffin (October 1998)

Publisher’s Synopsis: For two decades, readers have loved this classic Christmas story, which was one of the first children’s books to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Now, this beautiful 20th anniversary edition, with a foil cover and a heartfelt note from Jan herself, makes a perfect introduction for new fans to this cherished yuletide story.

Featuring the wintry northern setting and the border illustrations that have become a hallmark of Jan’s work, readers will love watching Teeka’s humorous attempts to control the rambunctious reindeer in time for their Christmas run.

 

The Scrawny Little Tree

By Ed Mehler, Illustrated by Susie Pollard

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Price, Stern, Sloan (October 2011)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Originally published in 1973, The Scrawny Little Tree tells of a destitute little boy who has always wanted a Christmas tree. He finally has saved enough to buy a little tree all his own, one with scrawny limbs and very few needles. But the boy’s love for his first Christmas tree is not affected by its diminutive stature. His love and the magic of Christmas combine to make a strange and wonderful thing happen to the town . . . Told in rhyme and with retro illustrations, The Scrawny Little Tree is sure to become a favorite holiday tale!

 

20 Great Picture Books for Every Home Library

 (Written by thechildrensblog.com, this article was originally published at MomsCharlotte.com)

 

How do you build a great home library for your children? The answer is simple but abstract at the same time; a great library is built, one book at a time. What happens after your child outgrows the bountiful selection of board books you received even before he or she was born? Classics such as Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny have made the rotation countless number of times, and now you and your child (maybe you, more than your child) are ready to delve into the realm of picture books. You want to be extra careful in choosing, because their future success hinges on these early life decisions.  All joking aside, not every book you choose for your home library will be a good book, age appropriate, or even an instant favorite. But this is really part of the process. Not every book needs to be a classic, what is more important is to offer your child a wide selection of books to choose from that stimulates their mind and heart. As their interests develop, their accessibility to those topics and characters they are interested in will foster a love for reading. Often, a book with no interest now may come back to be a favorite in a few years. Picture books, in particular, will tend to be a fixture in your home library longer than you may expect. Generally, the text in picture books will be too difficult for beginning readers and so you will find yourself reading these to your child long after they begin to read themselves. Also, you may be pleasantly surprised to hear your child’s request for a read aloud of their favorite picture book long after they have learned to be independent readers. Fewer moments are more nostalgic than reading Library Lion to your 9 year old and remembering the first time you read it to them 5 years ago. Here is a selection of 20 amazing picture books that would be a solid addition to any home library.

 

OnceIAteaPie1.Once I Ate a PieBy Patricia MacLachlan and   Emily MacLachlan Charest, illustrated by Katy Schneider Celebrated Newberry Medal   winner Patricia MacLachlan brings the loving, loyal and sometimes mischievous   personalities of dogs to the center stage in this heartwarming book. Perfect   for dog lovers and a great introduction to poetry for children. 
 BigRedLollipop2.Big Red LollipopBy Rukhsana Khan, illustrated   by Sophie Blackall Anyone with a sibling will   relate to this story of sibling rivalry and birth order nonsense. Further   introspection reveals the growing pains of an immigrant family as they   assimilate into their adopted land. Readers of Ivy and Bean will also   recognize Sophie Blackall’s adorable caricatured illustrations.
 theemptypot3.The Empty PotBy Demi A beautiful adaption of a   Chinese fable about inner strength and honesty. The illustrations and story   are beautifully simple but the lessons are complex.
knufflebunny4.Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary TaleBy Mo Willems Mo Willem’s classic tale of   Trixie and her beloved Knuffle Bunny. Every parent has been there, the moment   when the most important object in your child’s short life goes missing.   Thankfully, in this story, there is a happy ending. Be sure to check out Knuffle   Bunny Too and Knuffle Bunny Free as well.
 sickdayforamos5.A Sick Day for Amos McGeeBy Philip Stead, illustrated by   Erin E. Stead A touching and beautifully   illustrated example of how one good deed deserves another and the importance   of friendships and kindness.
 georgeandmartha6.George and MarthaBy James Marshall What happens when you tell   stories about two hippos who happen to be best friends? Hilarity. James   Marshall’s stories and illustrations about George and Martha will have you   and your child rolling in laughter every time.
diaryofawombat7.Diary of a WombatBy Jackie French, illustrated   by Bruce Whatley An adorable tongue-in-cheek   account of a typical week in the life of a slow-moving, huggable Australian   wombat.
lionandthemouse8.The Lion and the MouseBy Jerry Pinkney A beautiful wordless adaption   of one of Aesop’s most well-known and beloved fables. The illustrations are   expressive and striking. 
streganona 9.Strega NonaBy Tomie dePaola A classic series by master   author and illustrator Tomie dePaola. Strega Nona (“grandma witch”) gives Big   Anthony fair warning not to touch the pasta pot but Big Anthony is determined   to make his own magic.
 whereisthegreensheep10.Where is the Green SheepBy Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy   Horacek A delightful rhyming book that   your child will memorize and enjoy for years.
 thethreequestions11.The Three QuestionsBy Jon J Muth What is the best time to do   things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?  Jon Muth adapts Tolstoy’s three most   important questions into a stunning and thought provoking book about   mindfulness and relationships, relevant for adults and children.
 scaredysquirrel12.Scaredy SquirrelBy Melanie Watt Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of   everything. Melanie Watt conveys the seriousness of anxiety and worry in a   humorous and endearing way via a charming squirrel.
 chrystanthemum13.ChrysanthemumBy Kevin Henkes What happens when the perfect   baby with a perfect name starts school and gets teased for being different?   School becomes difficult and life becomes complicated for Chrysanthemum, who   eventually realizes that being different can be celebrated.  Acclaimed author and illustrator Kevin   Henkes tells a sensitive story about the delicate topic of being different in   an especially beautiful way.
 librarylion14.Library LionBy Michelle Knudsen,   illustrated by Kevin Hawkes An all-time favorite about a   kind and sometimes misunderstood lion who is welcomed at the most welcoming   of places, the library. It is a heartwarming and gentle story about   stereotypes, friendships, and heroism.
 olivia15.OliviaBy Ian Falconer Olivia is a lovable piglet,   reminiscent of Eloise of The Plaza Hotel. She is spunky, full of energy and   never runs short on finding enthusiastic adventures.
avisitorforbear16.A Visitor for BearBy Bonnie Becker, illustrated   by Kady MacDonald Denton An enigmatic bear and a   tenacious mouse are the perfect pair in this endearing and humorous series   about friendship. 
thekissinghand17.The Kissing HandBy Audrey Penn, illustrated by   Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak The perfect book for children   starting a new adventure and suffering from separation anxiety. Audrey Penn   address the topic in a gentle, heartwarming and sensitive way through the   eyes of a nervous raccoon and his nurturing mother.
thepencil18.The PencilBy Allan Ahlberg, illustrated   by Bruce Ingman This is a clever book about the   adventures of a creative pencil that gets itself into a bit a trouble.   Children and adults will appreciate and understand the irony and will enjoy   reading it over and over again.
forjustoneday19.For Just One DayBy Laura Leuck, illustrated by   Marc Boutavant Enter this whimsically   illustrated book and your child will begin the game of imagining themselves   as variety of animals. The bright and captivating illustrations make it easy   for children to imagine the possibilities.
 themanwhowalkedbetweenthetowers20.The Man Who Walked Between the TowersBy Mordicai Gerstein An entertaining and inspiring   recount of Philippe Petit’s 1974 World Trade Center tightrope walk. Children   will be captivated by the daring and dramatic feat told through equally   dramatic and beautiful illustrations.

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