I love Christmas. I love books. What more needs to be said? These are the best of the best, folks. If you celebrate Christmas, you’re sure to find something that you “need” here. A few of the selections are only available from third party sellers on Amazon, and I do apologize for that since they might not be readily available for a reasonable price. But I felt that I had to include them anyhow since they’re favorites of mine – the world must know that they exist!
There are three different sections to scroll through: activity books, children’s books, and books to read to yourself or aloud with your loved ones. Enjoy! I hope that you find something that you like here.
Christmas Activity Books:
- Rocky Mountain Snowflakes, Book One and Book Two, by Debra Bangert Bonzek. Every year we cut out paper snowflakes and tape them to the windows on the front of our house. So pretty! These books make it easy since they have tear out sheets of easy-to-cut, thin paper, with guidelines for proper folding and cutting. They have beautiful, intricate designs, with whimsical shapes that your children will recognize. It won’t be long before you’ve figured out how to fold and cut your own designs, after practicing with these templates.
- The Toymaker’s Christmas, by Marilyn Scott-Waters. This book is full of all kinds of clever cut-outs to fold into decorations and toys, using just a little tape or glue. It’s a super fun activity for crafty kids.
- A Christmas Angel Collection, by Catherine Stock. Another book with cut-out decorations for crafty kids (or adults). This book is full of beautiful Renaissance angels that you color in yourself. I recommend using metallic gel pens, which give the effect of a shiny patina. You can display these on a shelf or Christmas tree.
- Christmas Decorations From Williamsburg, by Susan Hight Rountree. I have a thing for Christmas books that teach us about historical traditions. They turn our focus towards individual creativity, spending time with the people we love, and the beautiful simplicity of hand made and natural items. They lead us out of the frenzy of plastic consumerism that comes with the holiday season. This book is full of colorful photographs, showcasing real life arrangements in Colonial Williamsburg. It includes ideas for decorating your own home along with directions.
- Carols For Christmas, compiled and arranged by David Willcocks, published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is a song book, full of sheet music for traditional Christmas Carols. But it also comes with a CD of all the songs that are printed in the book, sung by a choir. The arrangements are absolutely beautiful and the CD is worth having on its own merit; we enjoy it every year. The great thing about this set, though, is that you can use the CD and sheet music to teach yourself or your family how to sing the Carols.
- Christmas With The Mousekins, by Maggie Smith. This is a really unique Christmas book. I’ve never seen another one quite like it – part story book, part craft book, with darling illustrations of a little mouse family. These are really cute crafts that you will actually want to do! We’ve made many of them ourselves.
- Forever Christmas, Tasha Tudor, by Harry Davis. A peek into the Christmas world of this wonderfully eccentric lady who lived on a farm house in rural New Hampshire, as well as writing and illustrating beloved children’s books. Full of photographs of her own home and life, the book shows her quaint ways of celebrating and decorating for the holiday season.
- Fa la la la Felt and ‘Tis the Season to Be Felt-y, by Kathy Sheldon. Tons of original ideas for handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations, with color photos patterns to print, and easy directions. We’ve completed so many of these projects and keep coming back to them!
- The Christmas Craft Book, by Thomas Berger. Celebrate the season with the beautiful simplicity of Waldorf decorations, meant to encourage the growing imaginations of little children. Waldorf crafts traditionally feature natural items, connecting us to elegance of nature in our daily lives. This book has full color photos of all the projects and will require various Waldorf supplies such as crafting straw, modeling wax, , and transparent paper.
- The Christmas Around the World book series, by World Book. These books are great to own if you’re curious about Christmas Traditions from around the world. Each book tells about the Christmas history of a particular country, and includes songs, recipes, and directions for crafts to make. You can buy them as a collection straight off of the World Book website, or you can sometimes find used and out of print copies from online book stores such as Amazon.com. You might like to find the book that tells about your national heritage so that you can reconnect with tradition. Or you might be like me, and collect books about various cultures that you’d like to learn more about.
Children’s Christmas Books:
- The Nativity, From The Gospels of Matthew and Luke, illustrated by Ruth Sanderson. This is THE book to have if you want to read the Christmas story to children. The story is composed directly of excerpts from the original Gospels and is paired with the exquisite medieval/illumination style artwork of Ruth Sanderson. Absolutely perfect!
- The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This is a magical book, bursting with creativity. The Ahlberg’s are the same couple who authored the classic, gem of a children’s book, “Each, Peach, Pear, Plum.” The story follows a postman throughout a fairytale land as he delivers mail to various characters. Each delivery features a pocket that holds clever additions, such as letters, puzzles, and tiny magazines. There are a few Christmas books that my kids beg me to read all throughout the year, and this is one of them.
- Christmas Cookies, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and illustrated by Jane Dyer. This is a really sweet book that is beautiful in it’s artwork and celebration of Christmas cookies. But what makes it especially lovely, is that each page discusses a different character value in relation to baking and celebrating, ie. patience, sharing, and handling disappointment gracefully.
- A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree, by Colleen Monroe, and illustrated by Michael Glenn Monroe. Here is another book that my daughter keeps in her bedtime story book stash all year long. This is the story, set in rhymed verse, of a Christmas tree that was never picked, and grew too large to be chosen. He’s a little depressed until all of his forest friends come up with a plan to decorate him with natural and found items. He ends up looking just as pretty as a fancy, modern tree, and learns how much he is valued by his all of his forest friends.
- Mortimer’s Christmas Manger, by Jane Chapman and Karma Wilson. Yet another Christmas favorite that gets read all throughout the year. This is the story of a mouse who lives in a people house and learns through unfolding events about the true meaning of Christmas – that Jesus came to give the greatest gift to us all, and that it’s only appropriate for all the rest of us to be grateful and share with others. What makes it so charming and special though, is how we see the Christmas world through the eyes of a mouse, in realistic detail.
- The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore, and illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa. Everyone knows the classic poem that immortalized the image of Santa for generations. This is my favorite publication of it, since it features artwork by one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. If you aren’t familiar with her artwork yet, you’re in for a treat and will probably want to collect some of her other children’s books as well.
- A Pussycat’s Christmas, by Margaret Wise Brown, and illustrated by Anne Mortimer. In this story we experience the sites and sounds of Christmas through the senses of a very sweet and curious cat, as told by noted children’s author, Margaret Wise Brown. What I really love most about this book though, are the stunning illustrations that bring the beauty of Christmas to life. You can see how fluffy and vibrant the cat looks in the picture below.
- The Doll’s Christmas, by Tasha Tudor. If you have a girl who likes to play with dolls, she will love this book. My girls have had loads of fun setting up a mini Christmas for their dolls every year, decorating a miniature tree and baking miniature cookies, etc. This book is about the same idea, except the story is told through historical traditions, antique dolls, and harkens back to a simpler time. It’s similar to Tudor’s other brilliant, classic children’s book about old-fashioned celebration of the holidays, “A Time To Keep,” but still different enough that it’s worth having on it’s own.
- The Twelve Days Of Christmas, illustrated by Jan Brett. I don’t think any children’s book list would be complete without at least one selection of Jan Brett’s. Her illustrations of beloved classics are sheer perfection. And they usually include anthropomorphized animals, which I love, because they’re so whimsical and spark the growing imaginations of children.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Sheilah Beckett. A classic worth revisiting in multiple editions, especially since it can be used as a counting book for little kids. This version is special because of the retro-style, medieval illustrations.
- The Tailor Of Gloucester, by Beatrix Potter. Speaking of anthropomorphized animals and must-have children’s books, “The Tailor of Gloucester” is not only on my list of Christmas favorites, but is actually my favorite Beatrix Potter book of them all. And that’s saying something, because they’re all absolutely wonderful! This is the story of a very poor and old, yet gifted tailor, who has a deadline of Christmas day to complete the mayor’s new coat for his wedding. But will his sinister, naughty cat, Simpkin foil his plans, or will the friendly mice save the day? Of all the Beatrix Potter books, I think this one has the most gorgeous illustrations. Her work really has the opportunity to shine because of the detailed King Louis XIV era gowns and coats that the mice wear. The Complete Collection of Beatrix Potter Tales belongs in every child’s library, and the small size of these books makes them perfect for little hands.
- The Animal’s Merry Christmas, by Richard Scarry. Here is another author/illustrator to complete every children’s library. This book is full of cute, short stories about animals at Cristmastime, with charming illustrations that bring the stories to life.
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. Here is a book, so ubiquitous, it hardly needs introducing. And yet it’s such perfect storytelling, I had to include it. I think it’s so well loved because the message resonates with everyone. Even if you’re like me and you love the whole Christmas season, there’s a little bit of Grinch in all of us, as we view the ugly consumerism and commercialization of this special holiday. How do we keep sight of the true meaning of Christmas? This book has the answer in the funnest way possible.
- The Tall Book Of Christmas, illustrated by Gertrude Elliott Espencheide. This book is a collection of short Christmas stories – some well-known, and others that you’ve probably never seen before, paired with spectacular midcentury illustrations. The unique shape makes it seem special to little kids, and begs to be picked up.
- An Early American Christmas, by Tomie dePaola. This is the story of an old time immigrant family who really know how to “do” Christmas. They inspire their entire community by sharing their delightful Christmas traditions. Featuring dePaola’s simple, yet beautiful style of artwork, the story and pictures bring us back to a time when Christmas was celebrated in the same way, simply and beautifully, with the supplies that people had on hand.
Christmas Books to Read Aloud:
- Dickens At Christmas, by Charles Dickens. I’m in love with the artwork on the dust jacket of this hardcover collection, which contains all 5 of Dickens’ most famous Christmas stories, plus a few extras. My favorite is the quintessential Christmas story, “A Christmas Carol.” The true meaning of Christmas, told in a way that’s totally relatable to the human experience, and written in the most sublime, descriptive prose. If you haven’t already, read it aloud with your loved ones and repeat every year!
- A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote, and illustrated by Beth Peck. Another favorite Christmas story to read over and over again. Equal parts funny and touching, it tells the autobiographical story of Capote’s childhood memories with his zany Aunt/cousin, who is a hero to us all in her non-conformity. The story really pulls on your heart strings as he discusses loss at the end, and reminds us of the reason why we sing “Auld Lang Syne” every New Year.
- The Christmas Doll, by Elvira Woodruff. I think this book would be best enjoyed, read aloud to a young girl, although I enjoyed reading it too. It tells the inspirational story of two young orphan girls at Christmastime. The plot is well-developed, the writing is good, and the character lessons are “on pointe.” We enjoyed this one thoroughly.
- Christmas In The Wild, by Bret Harte, Hamlin Garland, et al. “One dozen writers tell a dozen tales set in a dozen different locations, from the top to the bottom of the hemisphere, about how they celebrated Christmas under remote, risky, wild circumstances.” I love this book because I love stories of the “old west” and adventure, especially by Bret Harte, who is one of my very favorite authors. So many of his stories are hilariously funny and written in a brilliant, sophisticated style with a rich vocabulary that makes them a joy to read. The cover features an antique, wood-engraved letterpress print, with iridescent ink for the stars.
- The Christmas Miracle Of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski, and illustrated by P. J. Lynch. Even though this looks more like a picture book, it’s probably best used as a read aloud, since the story might not appeal to very young children. This is the romantic story of a hardened and lonely wood carver who meets a widowed mother and her son at Christmastime, and is able to find love again.
- The Gift Of The Magi, by O. Henry, and illustrated by P. J. Lynch. Most people are probably familiar with the plot of this famous Christmas story, about a couple who discover through some mildly unfortunate circumstances that selfless love is really the best gift of all. Like the last book, illustrated by the talented P. J. Lynch.
- Stubby Pringle’s Christmas, by Jack Schaefer, and illustrated by Lorence Bjorklund. Here is a Christmas short story that has my heart. This one is about a bachelor cowboy that gives up his one night on the town in order to play Santa Claus to a very poor family. I’ve been looking for a copy of this book for years now, and was very pleased to find this new illustrated edition!
- What Men Live By, by Leo Tolstoy. A short story from another beloved and favorite author. A poor cobbler brings a mysterious man into his home, and, through intriguing twists and turns of the plot, learns the answer to this important question, “What do men live by?” The answer being, that we live by the love that comes from God and others, and not by what we give to ourselves. The Christmas message! It’s often included in Tolstoy’s short story collections, but this out of print hardback edition is so lovely, it’s worth having if you can find one.
- Christmas At Thompson Hall & Other Christmas Stories, by Anthony Trollope. “Christmas at Thompson Hall brings together the best of the Christmas stories of Anthony Trollope, one of the most successful, prolific, and respected English novelists of the nineteenth century. Characterized by insightful, psychologically rich, and sometimes wryly humorous depictions of the middle class and gentry of Victorian England… these tales helped to enshrine the traditions of the decorated Christmas tree, the holiday turkey, and the giving of store-bought gifts.” I always think of Anthony Trollope as the male “Jane Austen.” He came to the literary scene on her heels, writing about Victorian times, rather than the regency period. But his plots are often similar, revolving around class division and romantic intrigue. So, if you like Jane Austen, I think you’ll like this collection of Christmas stories too.
Thank you for reading! Do you have any favorite Christmas books that I’ve left out? Please share in comments below.
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