Christmas is coming, and as intentional parents seeking to point our children to Jesus in every holiday, one way of enjoying the holiday, teaching its meaning, and creating memories is through reading the many wonderful Christmas books for kids as a family. These are the best Christmas books for kids that keep the focus on Christ or tell the legends of Saint Nicholas, candy canes, and cookies or teach valuable character lessons.
Retellings of Christ’s birth:
The Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
|The Tale of Three Trees (Hardcover)|
By Angela Elwell Hunt
Featuring the wonderful illustrations of Tim Jonke, this best-selling children’s book tells the Easter story from a new and unusual point of view. Three trees on a mountain dream of what they wanted to become when they grew up. One wants to be a treasure chest, another an ocean-going boat, and the third a signpost to God. Their wishes come true in a way they never expected. Children will be deeply touched as they understand, perhaps for the first time, the significance of Christ’s life and his atoning sacrifice on the cross. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Baboushka: A Christmas Folktale from Russia by Arthur Scholey – I love this version because it has a song to learn at the end about Baboushka.
The Tale of Baboushka by Elena Pasquall
|The Tale of Baboushka: A Traditional Christmas Story|
By Elena Pasquali & Lucia Mongioj
Baboushka is busy with her house-she has so much to do. The late night arrival of three travelers at her cottage door interrupts her domestic routine of cleaning and polishing. Although she gives them excellent hospitality, she is relieved that they plan to travel on the following day.
Since its first performance on Christmas Eve, 1951, Amahl and the Night Visitors has taken its place with A Christmas Carol as a holiday classic. Peformed on every continent and in many languages, it has been seen by more people than any other opera in history.
The story tells of the night the Three Kings, following the star to Bethlehem, stop for shelter at the home of Amahl, a poor, crippled shepard boy who lives with his widowed mother. Inspired by the Wise Men’s tale of a kingdom “built on love alone,” Amahl offers his own simple gift to the Christ Child. And then a miracle happens. . .
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
|A Charlie Brown Christmas|
By Charles M. Schulz
Twas the Evening of Christmas by Glenys Nellist
|‘Twas the Evening of Christmas|
By Glenys Nellist
It’s a beloved holiday tradition to read Moore’s”‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” aloud. Now Nellist offers a story that has echoes of the familiar rhythm and language, but shifts the focus to the birth of Jesus. Featuring colorful illustrations and rhyming text, it’s sure to become a Christmas classic!
The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean
|The Jesse Tree|
By Geraldine McCaughrean
Geraldine McCaughrean’s fresh retellings of familiar Bible events and Bee Willey’s whimsical and striking illustrations create a rich and contemporary tale, perfect for reading during Advent or anytime. As Mr. Butterfield carves a Jesse Tree in an old dusty church, a curious young boy distracts him, asking about the various symbols on the tree. Against his better judgment, the old man finds himself retelling the familiar Biblical tales that trace the lineage of Christ, from the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ birth. Under the carpenter’s skilled hands, the Jesse tree grows–and an unlikely friendship begins to take root as well.
The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park
|The Third Gift|
By Linda Sue Park
Beautifully illustrated in dusty, desert tones, The Third Gift follows a merchant and his son as they collect resin tears from trees—Myrrh—to sell to the market. One day, they find an unusually large tear, and at the market that day, they sell it to three men who are looking for an exceptional gift. A tale that conveys unique aspects of life at the time of Christ, as well as the background of Myrrh production and usage, this book presents a compellingly unique angle into the Christmas story. Hardcover with dust jacket.
Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
|Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent|
By Arnold Ytreeide
Over and over Jotham screamed for his family, but there was no one to hear him. They had vanished. He was alone. Where had they gone? How long ago had they left? Through quick, stabbing sobs Jotham told himself, “I must look for my family, I must search until I find them.” And so his journey begins. In this widely popular, exciting story for the Advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
|Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent|
By Arnold Ytreeide
Bartholomew’s Passage is an engaging story that guides families through the Advent season. Young Bartholomew’s adventures start when Roman soldiers destroy his village and disperse his family, continue through his enslavement to a tyrannical master and his escape with his new friend Nathan, and end with a reunion with his family in Bethlehem. Along the way Bartholomew makes a new friend, a young boy named Jotham! Paperback.
Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
By Arnold Ytreeide
The perfect family devotional for Advent! Tabitha and her family must travel to Bethlehem for the census. When her father is imprisoned by the Romans, she stays with Zechariah and Elizabeth, meets Jotham and Bartholomew, and helps prepare for Jesus’ birth. Includes end-of-chapter reflections.
Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
|Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Storybook for Advent|
By Arnold Ytreeide
A new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham’s Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families, Ishtar’s Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there’s much to see, do, and learn in this world that can’t be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king. Recommended for ages 8 years and older; wonderful for family devotional use.
Christmas Traditions and Legends:
Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer
|Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, Softcover|
By Julie Stiegemeyer
Here is the story of the historical Saint Nicholas, who was a servant of God. Through him, God’s love was reflected to others. The story touches on the ministry of Nicholas and his generous gift of a dowry to three young girls as a response to God’s love in Jesus. And it brings application to our own lives as we, too, respond with grateful hearts to God’s great gift of love to us.
Combining museum-quality artwork and family friendly language, this book clearly articulates how God showered His love upon us through Christ and helps children see that our own gift-giving is a grateful response to the sacrificial gift of God’s Son. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.
The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Dandi Daley Mackell
|Legend of St. Nicholas|
By Dandi Daley Mackall
This newly illustrated edition of The Legend of St. Nicholas features captivating artwork by Bad Dog, Marley illustrator Richard Cowdrey to tell the story of a young man named Nicholas who was moved by the plight of the poor and needy. Nicholas spent his life secretly helping those in need all over the world, giving gifts on Christmas Eve to remind people of the greatest Gift of all: Jesus Christ.
The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Anselm Grun
|The Legend of Saint Nicholas|
By Anselm Grun
A German Benedictine whose books have been translated into 30 languages retells stories about Nicholas’s generosity—how he ended a famine by multiplying grain from a merchant ship; walked on water to rescue sailors from a terrible storm; gave away his inheritance to prevent a desperate man from selling his daughters into slavery. 26 pages, hardcover.
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
|Legend of the Christmas Stocking: An Inspirational Story of a Wish Come True|
By Rick Osborne, illustrated by Jim Griffin
This wonderful Christmas tale, set in the late 1800s, shares the touching story of a young boy named Peter. He sells newspapers to help his family while his father is away at sea, and he’s been saving a bit of his earnings to buy a model schooner in the woodworker’s shop. But after Uncle Jim, the woodworker, tells him the story of St. Nicholas, Peter discovers the meaning behind the hanging and filling of Christmas stockings and learns a heartfelt lesson in kindness and generosity.
Filled with the rich, realistic illustrations of Jim Griffin, children will discover the depth of God’s love shown through others as they learn the Christian meaning revealed in The Legend of the Christmas Stocking Recommended for ages 4 to 8.
The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne
|The Legend of the Christmas Tree Picture Book, Ages 4-8|
By Rick Osborne
On a visit to a tree lot, the Johnson family sees three beautifully decorated trees standing in the center of the lot. A mysterious silver gift-wrapped box is under one of the trees. The old lot owner notices their intrigue and what he tells them, not only marks the beginning of a new family tradition, but also brings meaning and understanding into their Christmas celebration.
In The Legend of the Christmas Tree, children ages 4 to 8 will discover the wonderful story of how the ever green tree first became a symbol of Christmas and a way to tell people about God. The beautiful illustrations by Bill Dodge add a wonderful richness to the story and help bring meaning to one of our best-loved traditions–decorating the Christmas tree.
2002 Silver Angel Award winner!
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
|The Legend of the Candy Cane, Newly Illustrated Edition: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy|
By Lori Walburg
Discover the mystery and miracle of Christmas with this newly illustrated edition of The Legend of the Christmas Cane. When a stranger arrives in town, everyone is curious to discover what he is doing—is he a doctor, or a tailor, or a merchant? When little Lucy extends her help, she finds out the identity of the man and learns the legend behind the candy cane. Will Lucy teach her town the important meaning behind the candy?
The Legend of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackell
|The Legend of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Christmas|
By Dandi Daley Mackall
Read along and discover The Legend of the Christmas Cookie written by Dandi Daley Mackall, and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. A young boy named Jack learns that the family who began the Christmas cookie tradition baked the holiday treats for the needy—and told the story of Jesus’ birth while handing them out! A sweet book that encourages kids to become cheerful givers and share the true reason for the season with others. Includes The Original Christmas Cookie Recipe, and the Chocolate Crinkles Recipe. Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
By Susan Jeffers
New York Times bestselling artist Susan Jeffers has created a Nutcracker unlike any that has gone before, with a lovely spare text based on the ballet. This is the perfect gift to share with children before they see The Nutcracker. Everyone who has seen the ballet will cherish it–as will anyone who enjoys stories where love triumphs. Come, take a front-row seat. The world’s most beloved holiday fairy tale is about to begin.
The 12 Days of Christmas: The Story Behind a Favorite Christmas Song by Helen Haidle
|12 Days of Christmas: The Story Behind a Favorite Christmas Song|
By Helen Haidle
Did you know that the song The Twelve Days of Christmas has secret Christian meaning to it that parents used to teach their children in secret when the Church of England forbade any other telling of Christ other than theirs? Learn about the meaning behind the gifts given on each of the twelve days and discover new ways to celebrate the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6). Includes ideas for celebrating in the back.
Character-Building or Inspirational Christmas Stories:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas!|
By Dr Seuss
The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville’s holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
The Candle in the Window by Margaret Hill McCarter
|The Candle in the Window|
By Margaret Hill McCarter
Nobody in the lobby tht storm-beaten night could equal Tod Witherspoon when it came to telling a story in his own simple way. Though he was only a rural mail carrier, his account of his best Christmas ever left his listeners speechless and deeply moved. Here is a tale that you’ll want to read over and over…and over again. 80 pages, hardcover.
The Candle in the Window – audio drama by Lamplighter Theater
|The Candle in the Window – dramatized audio on CD|
Tully wants more than anything to make his teacher smile. But no one knows that Miss Ravenstow is trying to escape the pain from her past. No one, that is, except Tod the mailman, who holds in his hands something far more valuable than a special delivery. Discover a very special Christmas story that opens the door for those seeking shelter from the pain of their past. Inspire your entire family with a beautiful portrayal of how a simple candle in the window can bring hope for the future and an encounter with the Light of the world. 88 pages, hardcover.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
|A Christmas Carol|
By Charles Dickens & Mark Peppe
Make reading Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol part of your holiday tradition! Features pen-and-ink illustrations by Mary Kate McDevitt. This charming “Puffin Chalk” edition features a colorful chalk-illustrated cover with French Flaps and deckled page edges. Softcover. 5″ x 7″.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
|The Gift of the Magi|
By O. Henry
This illustrated version of O. Henry’s famous The Gift of the Magi tells the story of sacrificial giving. Just as the Magi gave Jesus gifts at his birth, whenever we sacrifice to give to others, we are the Magi of old. This story of a young couple who gave up what they loved best for each other is a wonderful story to read together as a family. Jacketed hardcover.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
|The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Mass Paperback|
By Barbara Robinson
Meet the Herdmans: six scraggly, unchurched “welfare kids,” who lie, steal, and smoke cigars (even the girls!). When these terrors of the town show up at Sunday school and muscle their way into the annual Christmas pageant, chaos—and hilarity—ensue! When Jesus said, “Let the little children come,” he didn’t mean the Herdmans—did he? 81 pages, softcover from HarperCollins.
The Christmas Candle by Richard Paul Evans
|The Christmas Candle|
By Richard Evans
Thomas is trying to make it home for Christmas when his candle has all but melted away. When he purchases a new candle from a local chandler, strange things begin to happen. See how a cold-hearted man can change suddenly in light of Christmas.
Advent Devotionals for the Family:
Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp
|Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional|
By Paul David Tripp
Prepare your heart, mind, and soul to celebrate the incarnation of God’s Son! Bringing a renewed sense of Christmas wonder to December days, Tripp shares 31 readings featuring gospel-centered thoughts, meditations, Scripture verses, and tips for parents to help your family focus on what matters most – the birth of Jesus. 144 pages, hardcover from Crossway.
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu
|Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional|
By Asheritah Ciuciu
Treat your family to the ultimate gift this Christmas as you “unwrap” the meaning-filled name of Jesus, week by week! Asheritah Ciuciu leads parents and children through the four weeks of Advent with weekly interactive devotional activities, each followed by five readings celebrating the Savior at the heart of our hope, preparation, joy, and love.
Family traditions become established, sometimes quite by accident and sometimes because “we’ve always done it that way.” But the best family traditions are thoughtfully cultivated. With Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions With Handel’s Messiah, Cindy Rollins leads the way in building a rich Advent tradition for you and your family. Inside you will find:
- Weekly Scripture passages, hymns, and poems,
- Daily Messiah listening schedule with background information from Greg Wilbur
- An overview of the church calendar by Thomas Banks
- Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany recipes, and
- Suggestions for celebrating the Advent feasts of St. Nicholas
and St. Lucia.
In the midst of the busyness of December, take 5 minutes each day and let Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, warm your heart with joy that can only be found in the good news of Jesus Christ.“This is the season of the year when, whether we wish it or not, we are compelled to think of the birth of Christ.” said Charles Spurgeon at the start of his sermon on 23rd December 1855. After dispelling any notion of a religious necessity of celebrating Christmas, he went on, “However, I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year” as an opportunity to preach on the incarnation of Jesus.Slow down this advent and reflect on the birth of Jesus with this 25-day advent devotional guide.
Jus’ Classical Advent Calendar and Pattern Devotional
While not a book, you and your family may be interested in starting your own Advent Calendar Devotional tradition with this pattern to craft your own Christ-focused Advent calendar with an accompanying devotional.
Beautiful Winter-oriented Books:
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
|Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening|
By Robert Frost
Illustrations by Susan Jeffers perfectly portray the stanzas in Robert Frost’s classic poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. White woods, towns, and snowflakes play up the warmth of colors on the man’s plaid jacket and sleigh blanket. A perfect way to snuggle up a cold night, and introduce young children to the beauty of Frost’s poetry! Hardcover with frosted-translucent dust jacket. Approximately 8.75″ x 7.25″.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (beautiful movie with enchanting music available too)
By Raymond Briggs
Evocative, wordless pages summon up childhood dreams and fantasies like no other picture book. A modern-day classic, Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman is a haunting look at a one-night adventure as the little boy and his snowman friend fly over field and ocean to reach the North Pole. They celebrate and dance the night away under the lights of the aurora borelis with an entire clan of snowmen who’ve gathered together to celebrate the winter season. This cherished tale conveys the joys and unique sorrows of childhood in beautiful, colored-pencil drawn frames that conjure up a new world of possibilities. 32 pages, softcover.