Our Favorite Christmas Books: Classic and New


Updated with new books on November 1, 2023! 🎉 Affiliate links are used in this post.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” – How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Ahh, Christmas books. Their words have shaped our families, our culture, and our hearts over many generations. Old and new, great holiday books have a way of illuminating the season and what matters most. And, some of them are just plain fun and nostalgic.

I’ve collected a few of our favorites below and would love to hear your favorites to add to our collection. In no particular order, our favorite Christmas books:

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post! Enjoy!

For the family:
Then Sings My Soul: Holiday Special Edition. As mentioned yesterday, we use all of Robert Morgan’s hymn books in homeschool and love them. This special edition includes songs for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter as well. Our kids love hearing the history of each holiday song.
Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions with Handel’s “Messiah” – Our favorite Advent reading/listening. We started this last year with the kids and it’s perfect for any age. Our oldest (11) understands the readings and musical insights more than our two younger kiddos (6 and 7), but the music itself transcends age. I grew up listening to “Messiah” on my dad’s record player and it definitely influenced my love of classical music.
Light and Life to All He Brings – My friend Gretchen is a faithful writer. This Advent collection is beautiful and engaging. I ordered the Advent cards for the kids and the In Every Season journal collection and the Grounded in the Gospel Workbook to kick off a fresh new year.
—The Gospels! The story of the Messiah’s birth, the angels, the shepherds – ah, they never cease to leave me in awe. I’ve often thought it would be meaningful to have a Bible just for the holidays where you write Christmas prayers from each family member in the margins, reflections, and notes about what you did or what you are grateful for through the season. What a treasure to come back to year after year. This red ESV journaling Bible would make a lovely family keepsake.

For the kids (and the adults who love to read them aloud, like me!):
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey A beautifully written redemptive narrative for the whole family.
Apple Tree Christmas – A nostalgic art-filled story with a meaningful gift in the end.
The Christmas Wish – A Nordic tale with magical photos that ignite the imagination.
The Nutcracker, Illustrated by Susan Jeffers – Pretty much anything illustrated by Susan Jeffers is a favorite.
A Christmas Carol and Other Writings by Charles Dickens – A classic!
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree – Our quest for a tiny tree this year makes this book all the more fun.
Christmas in the Country – I love stories about simpler times and Cynthia Rylant is a house favorite.
Christmas Farm – A cozy story of hard work with beautiful watercolor illustrations.
A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs – This collection is great for young readers. It’s a simple collection of short stories, classic Christmas lyrics, and happy illustrations.
The Christmas Cat – A heartwarming Christmas miracle with Tasha Tudor’s classic illustrations.
Merry Christmas Squirrels – If you know us, you know why this is on the list. Nutty the Squirrel approves!
The Story of Holly and Ivy – Barbara Cooney’s enchanting illustrations bring this story of Christmas wishes to life. It’s a longer text that would be great for a multi-evening read-aloud.
Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Illustrated by Susan Jeffers is a beautiful combination of writing and art! I have gifted this particular edition to friends, it’s so lovely.
The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot – We love James Herriot! Have you seen the PBS series about his life? Also a favorite! One of the many things I love about great books is that they allow us, and our children, to experience emotions in the safety of a story. They help us understand the struggles of others and shape our character for the realities of life. This story is bittersweet and beautiful – a treasure in our library that has helped our kids see hope in hard things. Lots of humor in this sweet story as well.
The Hedgehog’s Christmas Tree – If I had another company, I might resurrect out-of-print books, like this one! You can find it used on Amazon or Thrift Books, and it’s one of my very favorites from childhood. The story is simple and the smells and illustrations are magical.
The Sweet Smell of Christmas – Okay, if I had another company it would be one that made scratch-and-sniff stickers. 🙂 This is another book from my childhood that I can’t get enough of.
The Mitten – A Jan Brett classic.
The Spirit of Christmas: A Giving Tradition – Our younger two were quite inspired by this book, instantly wanting to find gifts for people who needed holiday cheer and love.
Night Tree by Eve Bunting – This may be my very favorite holiday book. We’ve even contemplated putting our Christmas tree outside and decorating it with birdseed ornaments, dried orange slices, and other wild edibles inspired by this story.
The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker – We have The Story Orchestra: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in One Day and love it.
An Orange for Frankie – A newer favorite for us, harkening to a long-time family tradition of ours: putting an orange in each others’ stockings for Christmas. This is something my grandparents did and we’ve carried it forward since.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story – This one tugged at my heart strings!

Not exactly Christmas books, but we love them for this season:
The Quiltmaker’s Gift – My all-time favorite about what matters most and generosity!
Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella – Oh, friends, this Jan Brett book is masterful. A magical winter adaptation of Cinderella – with decadent chickens!

Holiday audio selections we love:
A Christmas Carol, narrated by Hugh Grant
Peter Rabbit: Christmas is Coming – a Christmas countdown with a lovely narrator

New for us this year:
I plan to gift these to the kids through the next few weeks. Have you read any of them?
The Christmas Owl
The Giving Snowman
Amelia Bedelia Wraps it Up
The Little Red Sleigh

On my Wish List:
One Great Love: An Advent and Christmas Treasury of Readings, Poems, and Prayers
A Poem for Every Night of the Year

A wonderful collection:
—Beautiful Feet Books has all the beautiful books in this curated Christmas collection!

A tip – set a recurring reminder to reserve new-to-you books at your library right before Thanksgiving. Our library has a huge collection, and they get checked out quickly at the end of November!

Okay, I’m dying to hear your favorites, too! Do tell…


  1. A couple favorite read alouds of ours are:

    The Promise and the Light by Katy Morgan. It’s a retelling of the biblical Christmas story! Its amazing!

    Also, The Prophet, the Shepherd, and the Star by Jenny L. Cote (its the 3rd book in the series about animals that are present during biblical times!) I wept and wept when Jesus was born and they were there. It’s an amazing series!

    • Lara on at

      I am so excited to look these up! Thank you, friend!

  2. Monica Wilcox on at

    I love this list and am grateful for these wonderful recommendations!! My family and I will enjoy reading those that are new to us this season. My favorite Christmas book is Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck. It chokes me up, brings tears, every time I read it! It is definitely one to add to a family collection.

    An Orange for Frankie is a new one to us this year, also! I love all Patricia Polacco books!

    • Lara on at

      Well, you had me at “chokes me up”! The title itself makes me want to read it. Just ordered – thank you, Monica! I can’t wait to read An Orange for Frankie soon, too.

  3. Karis on at

    Love reading your words on here, Lara <3. Your post reminded me to put some Christmas books on hold at the library, including Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (so glad that you mentioned this one), Red & Lulu, and Mistletoe (by Tad Hills). I have "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" waiting in my pile to be read aloud to the kids. I love that Monica mentioned Patricia Polacco! Her "Holes in the Sky" is a book that goes to a beautiful and mysterious, yet a familiar and light-filled space. It is a book that has helped me push through some of my own grief layers because it is filled with hope. Always hope. Hugs and love to you!

    • Lara on at

      Thank you for these recommendations, and I’m especially grateful for the “Holes in the Sky” rec. I am going to put that on hold for our next library run. Hugs and love to you, too.

  4. Brianna on at

    The Mitten is high on our favorites list this year! (Also The Hat and The Snowy Nap.). I just thrifted a few more Jan Brett Christmas books that I’m excited to get to as well. Several people have recommended The Night Tree to me, so I just ordered! We are following a Jesus Storybook advent plan this year and have really been enjoying it. I think I get as much or more enjoyment out of our Christmas books as my children. 🥰

    • Lara on at

      I feel the same, Brianna – I think I get even giddier than they do when we bring them out for the holidays!

  5. Julie Roberts on at

    Ooo, Christmas stories. At one time they were all organized on my son’s bookshelf but he needed more room for his Legos. My kids’ favorite Christmas book is The Gingerbears’ First Christmas (a book my grammie gave me in 1984) It’s crazy long but a super cute story.

  6. Sarah T on at

    We love Christmas books as well! There is something so special to a basket of seasonal books set out during December. A few other favorites for us are: Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, Snowmen at Night/Snowmen at Christmas (the kids love looking for the hidden pictures within the pages), and Katy and the Big Snow. Enjoy!

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