Top 20 Christmas Books Every Child Should Read

children's christmas books

Top 20 Christmas Books Every Child Should Read

Christmas is dancing just around the corner, twinkling lights, snowy evenings, and let’s not forget—snuggling up with a good book in hand. As a children’s book author, I cherish those enchanting moments when a story can whisk both adults and kids away to magical lands, even if it’s just for a little while. Here’s my jolly list of 20 must-have children’s Christmas books that make every festive season a tad more magical. And who knows, some of these might just become your new family tradition!

1. “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg

On Christmas Eve, a young boy takes a fantastical train ride to the North Pole, experiencing a journey of belief and magic. The rich illustrations and captivating story make this a timeless treasure for all. (Reading age: 4-7)

Fun Fact: Chris Van Allsburg revealed that the story was inspired by his own childhood memories of trains. Plus, the boy on the cover? That’s actually a childhood photo of Chris!

2. “The Snowman” by Raymond Briggs

In this wordless narrative, a young boy’s snowman comes to life, leading to nighttime adventures full of wonder. The charm lies in the tale’s simplicity and its touching depiction of friendship. (Reading age: 4-7)

Fun Fact: Raymond Briggs has mentioned that he finds snow both magical and melancholic, which influenced the bittersweet ending of the snowman melting.

3. “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” by Susan Wojciechowski

A touching tale of a gloomy woodcarver and a widowed mother who discover the true meaning of Christmas together. It’s a poignant story that delves into loss, hope, and redemption. (Reading age: 6-9)

Fun Fact: The story was born from Susan’s contemplation over a wooden carving of the Nativity scene, making her wonder about the carver’s own story.

4. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss

The Grinch, with a heart “two sizes too small,” plans to ruin Christmas for all of Whoville, only to find out that the holiday spirit is more resilient than he thought. It’s a rhyming masterpiece that celebrates the essence of Christmas. (Reading age: 5-9)

Fun Fact: Dr. Seuss once confessed that the Grinch character was largely a reflection of himself!

5. “The Nutcracker” by E.T.A. Hoffmann

Young Clara embarks on a dreamy journey on Christmas Eve, filled with the Nutcracker Prince, Sugarplum Fairy, and the Mouse King. This magical tale is a festive ballet favorite. (Reading age: 7-10)

Fun Fact: Hoffmann’s original story is much darker than the popular ballet adaptation, complete with a deep backstory involving curses and a seven-headed mouse king.

6. “A Wish to Be A Christmas Tree” by Colleen Monroe

In a heartwarming twist, animals of the forest decorate a lonely old tree, teaching it about love and appreciation. It’s a reminder of the joy in giving and being there for others. (Reading age: 3-7)

Fun Fact: Monroe’s inspiration came from observing an old pine tree in a Christmas tree farm and pondering the feelings of the trees left behind.

7. “The Legend of the Poinsettia” by Tomie dePaola

A charming Mexican legend about a young girl’s selfless gift and the miracle that led to the creation of the poinsettia plant. (Reading Age: 4-8)

Fun Fact: Tomie dePaola’s deep appreciation for Mexican culture came from his personal travels to the country, and he used those experiences to enrich his books.

8. “Dream Snow” by Eric Carle

A farmer dreams of snowfall, waking up to find a real Christmas surprise waiting outside. (Reading Age: 3-7)

Fun Fact: This book is unique in Carle’s collection because it predominantly uses white, a color he used sparingly in his other books.

9. “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore

A classic poetic tale depicting Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve and the magic it brings. (Reading Age: 4-8)

Fun Fact: The poem’s authorship was a topic of debate for years. Moore didn’t claim it until 21 years after its debut.

10. “Bear Stays Up for Christmas” by Karma Wilson

Bear tries his best to stay awake and partake in Christmas celebrations with his forest friends. (Reading Age: 3-7)

Fun Fact: Karma Wilson prefers the solitude of her secluded cabin when crafting her stories, believing it connects her more deeply to her characters’ emotions.

11. “Father Christmas” by Raymond Briggs

Dive into the daily life of Father Christmas, from his regular chores to his Christmas Eve delivery duties. (Reading Age: 4-7)

Fun Fact: Raymond Briggs portrayed Father Christmas with a comical grumpiness, a stark contrast to the jolly version we’re accustomed to.

12. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from a miser to a man who embodies the spirit of Christmas. (Reading Age: 9-12)

Fun Fact: Dickens wrote this classic in just six weeks, and it was immediately successful, but due to expensive production, the profit was less than he hoped for.

13. “Stick Man” by Julia Donaldson

Stick Man’s journey to return to his family tree is filled with challenges, culminating in a chance meeting with Santa Claus. (Reading Age: 3-7)

Fun Fact: Julia Donaldson was inspired to write this tale during a hiking trip when she spotted various sticks and imagined their potential adventures.

14. “The Jolly Christmas Postman” by Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman delivers Christmas mail to fairy-tale characters, offering readers interactive letters to open and enjoy. (Reading Age: 4-8)

Fun Fact: The book comes alive with physical letters and cards for readers to pull out, a concept that Allan believed would immerse children more deeply in the story.

15. “Christmas in the Manger” by Nola Buck

The nativity story is told simply and sweetly, perfect for the youngest readers to grasp the meaning of Christmas. (Reading Age: 2-5)

Fun Fact: Nola Buck crafted this story to serve as an introduction for toddlers to the spiritual aspect of Christmas in a way they could understand.

16. “The Little Reindeer” by Nicola Killen

A magical adventure unfolds as a young girl meets a lost reindeer and helps him find his way home. (Reading Age: 4-8)

Fun Fact: Nicola Killen’s illustrations were uniquely crafted using a limited color palette, making the story visually distinct and memorable.

17. The Christmas Wish” by Lori Evert

Anja’s journey to become one of Santa’s elves is filled with magical creatures and wondrous landscapes. (Reading Age: 4-8)

Fun Fact: The photographs in the book were taken in real locations in Norway, adding an authentic touch to the fantastical tale.

18. “The Wild Christmas Reindeer” by Jan Brett

Teeka learns the importance of kindness and patience as she trains Santa’s reindeer for their yearly flight. (Reading Age: 4-8)

19. “Letters from Father Christmas” by J.R.R. Tolkien

A collection of letters Tolkien wrote to his children as Father Christmas, recounting tales from the North Pole. (Reading Age: 5-9)

Fun Fact: Tolkien started this tradition to make Christmas more magical for his kids and continued it for over 20 years, each letter getting more elaborate.

20. “The Christmas Boot” by Lisa Wheeler

A tale of wishes and miracles, as an old woman discovers a magical boot that transforms her lonely Christmas. (Reading Age: 4-7)

Fun Fact: The story emphasizes the idea that sometimes the smallest things, like a single boot, can bring about the biggest changes in one’s life.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this enchanting journey through some of the most magical Christmas tales ever told. Each of these stories holds a special place in my heart, reminding me of cozy winter nights spent reading by the fireplace, hot cocoa in hand. Christmas is not just a day but a feeling, and I sincerely hope that this list brings that warm, festive spirit a little closer to you and your family. If you have any other suggestions that should be added to the list, please feel free to add them. in the comments and I’d be happy to add them 🙂

About the Author:

Jenny Kellett is a passionate children’s book author who believes in the power of stories to inspire and educate. Drawing from the enchantment of childhood classics, she crafts nonfiction tales that bring the wonders of the world to young readers. With every page, Jenny hopes to spark curiosity, foster love for nature, and encourage the next generation to be kind stewards of our beautiful world.

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Melbourne, Australia