Best Christmas Books to Share with Your Children

by Stacey Schifferdecker

When my children were young, we started a new holiday reading tradition. We would put aside our traditional night time books for the month, and every night of December, we would read a Christmas book. This was a great to have some calm and peaceful moments together at the end of the day. If you'd like to start a similar tradition, here are some of our favorite Christmas books for you to try (in no particular order) — enough to get you through the first half of December.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

by Dr. Seuss

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Yes, it was a book before Chuck Jones made the fabulous animated version we all grew up with and Ron Howard made the live action version starring Jim Carrey. Why read this book? Well, it's got those great Dr. Seuss rhymes, a funny story line, and amusing illustrations. On top of that, it's a sweet story about the transformational power of love. (It does send the erroneous  message that the purpose of Christmas is family togetherness. I make a point of telling my kids that being together as a family is a Christmas bonus, but that the real purpose of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus' birth.)

Country Angel Christmas

by Tomie dePaola

St. Nicholas invites the Country Angels to coordinate heaven's Christmas celebration this year. The angels get busy baking, decorating, and learning songs. Unfortunately, no one can seem to find a way to let the three littlest Country Angels help until St. Nicholas gives them the job the other angels have all forgotten: fetching the Christmas star.

We like to read this book on the day we hang the angels on our Advent calendar.

The Last Straw

Fredrick Thury

A grumpy camel ends up carrying too big a load as he plods on the Bethlehem (sound familiar to anyone? Not the camel part — the carrying too heavy a load part). He ends up carrying not only the gifts of the Wise Men, but also pastries, wine, and other presents people give him to carry to the new king. A piece of straw, the gift from a young child, finally brings the camel to his knees, right in front of a baby in a manger.

A Wish for Wings that Work

by Berke Breathed

A Wish for Wings that Work

A Wish for Wings that Work

I don't know if it's because I have such great memories of the old comic strip Bloom County, but this book is one of my Christmas favorites. Opus the Penguin wants to fly, and he writes Santa asking for wings that work. On Christmas Eve, Santa has an unfortunate sleigh accident and ends up sinking in the lake outside Opus's house. Opus flies through the water to rescue Santa. Santa teaches Opus to appreciate the gifts he already has — but then, in a fabulous twist, Opus does get to fly on Christmas morning.

The 12 Days of Christmas, The Night Before Christmas, and Cookie Count

by Robert Sabuda

Robert Sabuda does the most awesome pop-up books. They are gorgeous, intricate, and, of course, fragile. These are books we keep up high, where little kids can't reach them and tear them apart.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury for Kids

by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen, and Irene Dunlap

chicken-soup

Christmas Chicken Soup for the Soul

My kids are getting older and outgrowing some of the books on this list. Last year, we did something different, reading from this Chicken Soup book. It includes one story a day from December 1 through December 25. The stories shared about love, traditions, Christmas spirit, and more. It was fun to hear the real-life Christmas stories in this book.

If you Take a Mouse to the Movies

by Laura Numeroff

This was Jocelyn's favorite book in first grade, coincidentally the year her teacher collected mice (figurines and stuffed mice, not real ones). This book is in the same vein as other Numeroff books, in which a kind deed goes awry and ends up in chaos. Just a fun read.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

by Tomie dePaola

I always enjoy learning about how other countries and cultures celebrate Christmas, as well as learning about the meaning of Christmas symbols. This book combines both interests, sharing a legend about how poinsetttias came to be with a description of the Mexican celebration of Las Posadas. Throw in the idea that gifts should come from the heart and don't need to be expensive, and you have an ideal Christmas story.

Carl's Christmas

by Alexandra Day

Carls Christmas

Carls Christmas

These almost wordless books are especially suitable for young children. In this Carl story, the rottweiler and the baby have grand adventures downtown on Christmas Eve. My kids have long outgrown the Carl series but I have fond memories of looking at these books with a little one cuddled in my lap, making up our own words and sound effects. The kids and still joke about Carl being their babysitter when I go out at night.

The Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg

Another great book that your kids may only know through the movie. Mix up a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the book – it's even better than the movie.

These books are all for the younger kids. As my kids are getting older, I think this year we'll try some chapter books. They are already familiar with The Christmas Carol, so that may make our list. I have also heard good reviews of Madeleine L'Engle's The Twenty-Four Days before Christmas: an Austin Family Story. Maybe next year I'll have new books to recommend!

Biography
Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.

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