Kristen Carrico
November 29, 2019

Top Ten Children’s Christmas Books

12 min read

Top Ten Children’s Christmas Books

I loved to read as a child, (and still do as an adult). As a child, (and again still as an adult), we followed a pretty strict “No Christmas decorations or music until after Thanksgiving” rule. When it was finally time to bring out all of the Christmas tubs, my favorite one was the heaviest of all. It was a green tub with a red lid. Inside were all the marvelous stories of Christmas magic and winter adventures. 

As a parent, still my favorite Christmas box is the one that holds the Christmas books. I am thrilled that this has become my kids’ favorite box, when we bring out the Christmas decorations, as well. 

This year I wanted to create a TOP TEN list of Christmas books, that included my favorite books from my childhood; the ones that were hidden in the green tub with the red lid throughout the rest of the year. AND I wanted to include books that I have not read yet, but that I am looking forward to reading this year with my children, and adding them to our Christmas book box at home. 

Christmas Books for Years Past:

My Top 5, Most Loved Christmas Books from Childhood

1. The Mitten, Jan Brett 

This became one of my favorite Christmas books because it was one of my mom’s favorites. I remember when we would read this book (as well as other Jan Brett books), my mom would remind me to look at all the “untold” stories happening in the gorgeous illustrations in the margins. I have always been amazed at the unique way Jan Brett uses the illustrations to wrap the reader in the story. I love the humor, magic, and adventure, of this classic winter tale. 

2. The Snowman, Raymond Briggs 

The soft, beautiful illustrations of this book make it one of my favorites. It is often the book that comes to my mind first when I think about winter stories. One year I received a stuffed animal version of The Snowman from this beloved book. It was soft, smooth, and joyful, I loved being able to grasp and cuddle the snowman that I had come to love from this magical picture book. As a child, I loved how accessible this book was, told entirely through pictures, without text, I could “read” the story without help from anyone else. 

3. Too Many Tamales, Gary Soto and Ed Martinez 

As a child, I loved the humor and anticipation of this story. Reading this story would always cause me to salivate for delicious tamales. Though we never had tamales at the holidays, we did have cousins, and aunts, and uncles, and grandparents, and siblings, overflowing the house during Christmas;  when I read this book it reminds me of those special family memories.

4. The Jolly Christmas Postman, Allan and Janet Ahlberg 

Allan and Janet Ahlberg,  are the creative author’s behind, The “Jolly Postman Books”, which include, The Jolly Postman, and other people’s letters, The Jolly Christmas Postman, and The Pocket Postman. These books remain some of my favorite children’s books of all time. I love the smart and lyrical rhyming storyline that further contributes to the fun and playful nature of the book. I love the clever way that classic fairytale stories and characters are portrayed in this series. Above all, I love the interactive and immersive experience of these stories; with fold-out letters, newspaper articles, games, puzzles, and more. Reading these stories is a delightful experience. The Jolly Christmas Postman, is my favorite of the series. It captures the magic, excitement, and joy of the season, as it gives a witty glimpse into Christmas experiences of beloved fairy tale characters in such a unique way. 

5.  Rachel’s Christmas Wish

First, sorry to inform you that I am listing a book, that you will not actually be able to purchase or procure for yourself. However, the concept is one that you most certainly can. Rachel’s Christmas Wish, is a personalized book, gifted to me by my Nana and Poppy when I was 5 years old. It is the story of a young girl who gets to take a magical ride in Santa’s sleigh. The girl in the story is supposed to be me, and Rachel’s friends in the story, are the names of my childhood friends. It is a cute Christmas story. But I loved it as a child because I had a real published book, in which I got to be the main character. As I got older I, of course, realized that there are several companies that will personalize storybooks, and it is simply just adding a child’s name to a prefabricated story and book. But as a child, it felt incredibly special and greatly contributed to the sense of Christmas magic surrounding the holiday season. 

Christmas Books for Years to Come:

Top 5 books that I have not read yet, but that I am excited to read with my kids this holiday season. 

1. The Christmas Wish, Lori Evert  

Here’s a tag line for a book you don’t see often, “started  with photos the family did with four-year-old daughter, Anja, in Norway [which were originally for a family Christmas card], those photos evolved into a storybook about Anja’s magical quest to find Santa with help from a menagerie of Arctic animals.” 

That alone is enough to persuade me to get my hands on this book and see those snowy magical photographs. I know my kids will appreciate the real photographs, and can almost guarantee they will be asking if they can interact with a real reindeer too. I may have a hard time convincing them that this story isn’t all true…but then again…who’s to say it is not, ‘tis the season of Christmas magic after all.  

2. One Christmas Lasts Forever, R.D. Gaines 

As we get older we tend to lose our sense of Christmas magic and wonder. One of the things I love about Christmas books is that you can recapture some of the magic that you may have lost over the years. One Christmas Lasts Forever, is unique in that it focuses on an adult’s experience with Christmas Magic. Often through Christmas books, it is a child’s sense of wonder, and belief, that reminds the adults about the Christmas Spirit. One Christmas Lasts Forever, shows us the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a father; the love of family across generations, and reveals that the Spirit of Christmas is never lost, no matter how old you are.  

3. The Nutcracker in Harlem, T.E. McMurrow, and James Ransome 

I love a good remake of a classic story, particularly one that highlights minority voices. The beautiful watercolor illustrations and the background information about the Harlem Renaissance, is certain to make this book a wonderful addition to our treasure box of Christmas stories.  

4. The Legend of the Poinsettia, Tomie De Paola 

I am always interested in sharing a variety of holiday traditions, and Christmas legends with my kids. While The Legend of the Poinsettia,  is certainly not a new book, it is one I have yet to read. I look forward to reading this with my kids, and discussing the myriad legends, beliefs, and traditions, that make the Christmas Season a magical one, worldwide.  

5. A Pinata in a Pine Tree, Pat Mora, and Magaly Morales  

If I had to guess, I would say that the “12 Days of Christmas” is the most widely recreated, reimagined, reinvented, story and song in the whole gamut of Christmas stories and songs. It also happens to be one of the stories and songs that kids tend to find highly entertaining (albeit somewhat obnoxious after the first 20 times). I find that cleverly reimagined versions of “The 12 days of Christmas” captivate the attention of my kids, and help with the all too repetitive nature of simply sticking to the original version. A Pinata in a Pine Tree, incorporates Spanish words, images to seek and find on each page, pronunciation guides, a mix of southwest and Mexican of cultures, and of course, music. 

Thinking of these beloved Christmas stories from the past, anticipating opening the pages of ones I have not yet read, and waking up to the very first few flutters of snow; may make it difficult for me to actually wait until the sun sets on the last day in November before jumping into these stories with my kids. 

What are your favorite Christmas books from your childhood? What Christmas Books are you anticipating for this wintry season? 


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