Reading Christmas books for kids aloud each day in December is a common tradition for many families. One book each day is standard, but there is no reason to read only one book if your children enjoy read-aloud time.
Taking time each day to read Christmas books for the month of December provides families with plenty of time to enjoy Jesus-focused books as well as the more common Santa-snowman-reindeer books.
Choosing the Right Christmas Books for Kids
Choosing which books to read can be a delight or a chore for parents. If you’re in the middle of the preschool and elementary years, you might not have the time or energy to read several books looking for the perfect ones to read aloud.
I have a solution for that!
I have read dozens of books – including many that I have loved for years – made notes about their content and illustrations, and then given each a rating from 1-10. These books were all from our public library or my personal collection. Just be aware that Christmas books are a hot ticket at libraries during December – so put a hold on yours soon!
From the dozens I have read – plus the dozens from years past that I did not re-read this year – I have selected 25 books to share with you today. These are books that will add magic and joy to your Christmas month, as well as an opportunity to discuss truths about Jesus and lessons about life.
One additional encouragement: If you have the resources, I suggest buying one or two Christmas books each year and building your own collection. The list I am providing is obviously just a starting point. Ask friends, family members, teachers, and your librarian for suggestions also.
The Process – Make it FUN!
Most young children will love this tradition. It combines time with family, freedom from technology, and stories! As children age, they may find the tradition more challenging to embrace. Do not let them get away with whining until you give up! Guard your children’s childhood and holiday traditions, even when they don’t appreciate it – they’ll understand later! In the meantime, try to add some excitement by switching things up occasionally.
- Many families choose to wrap each book they will be reading in Christmas paper. If you’ve never done this, do it this year. If you do this every year be sure to add a new book every year, so they’re always wondering when the new book (or two) will be read. Wrapping books is optional but does add some anticipation.
- Another option to add some excitement without taking time to wrap the books, is to number them from 1 – 25. Then make cards (half-size index cards work well) with those same numbers. Put the cards in a container and each day have a child pick one card. The number drawn is the book for that day.
- If you have an Advent calendar you can have a similar approach. Randomly add the numbers 1 – 25 to your Advent calendar. When the calendar is opened for the day, the number in the pocket or door is the book for that day.
- When your children are old enough to read, have them take turns reading the day’s book. You can help early readers by using an “I read one page, then you read one page” approach.
- As your children age, add a twist by throwing in a Christmas story starter two or three times and have them write, and then read aloud, their own Christmas stories.
- Christmas movies are very popular at this time of year. Build on the love of movies by planning in advance a couple of movies to watch that are adaptations of the book of the day or share the same theme. I would save these special times for Fridays or Saturdays.
- If you have teenagers who don’t want to participate with your younger children, enlist them in choosing one or more new books to introduce this year. They must agree to read at least ten never-included picture books (get them through the library if possible) and then choose one or two best books to replace some books whose glory days are over.
- Are all your children in double-digits? Don’t abandon your favorite picture books (keep several for sharing) but do add a novel for read-aloud. The novel can only be read when every member of the family is present. This will take several days depending on the book. The picture books can fill in the days when a family member is absent. Start with Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
Carry the Tradition Past Christmas
If this is your first year adopting the Christmas read-aloud tradition, don’t stop on December 25th! Continue building your children’s character and increasing their odds for success in both school and life by reading aloud for the other 11 months of the year! Keep it up as long as you can – even into high school if schedules allow.
While you might allow some wiggle room during the 11 non-Christmas months of the year, try very hard to stick to a daily schedule of read-alouds. This is especially important as you establish this family habit. Also, don’t worry if your child wants to read the same book ten days in a row. Read it for him or her. But then insist on reading one of your choosing at least every other day.
My List of Selected Christmas Books for Kids
Start here and then explore more books on your own. Books marked with an asterisk (*) are Christian books. You can get a printable copy of the list – along with my notes – in the Resource Library.
- ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas* by Glenys Nellist & Elena Selivanova
- Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
- Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
- How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky & S.D. Schindler
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
- Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton & Karen Hillard Good
- Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Bueher & Mark Bueher
- Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey* by Susan Wojciechowski & P.J. Lynch
- The Legend of the Candy Cane* by Lori Walburg & James Bernardin
- The Littlest Angel* by Charles Tazewell & Guy Porfirio
- The Nutcracker in Harlem by T.E. McMorrow & James Ransome
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- This is the Stable* by Cynthia Cotton & Delana Bettoli
- Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble
- Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
- Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond & Diane deGroat
- God Gave Us Christmas* by Lisa Tawn Bergren & David Hohn
- The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup & Matt Tavares
- The Little Drummer Boy* by Ezra Jack Keats
- Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett
- Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal & James Bernardin
- Homemade Together Christmas by Maryanne Cocca-Leffler
- Mortimer’s Christmas Manger* by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore & Rachel Isadora
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; Holly Hobbie
Bonus Books to Explore: The Nativity illustrated by Ruth Sanderson; Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco; How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan & Lee Wildish; The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett; The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne & Bill Dodge; A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates & Sebastia Serra