25 Christmas Picture Books You Should Own

In my mind, I tend to lean slightly minimalist. That’s not to say it always works out that way, but the mindset and style appeals to me and I love decluttering. I hate buying knicknacks and tchotchkes, and empty space really speaks to me.Except when it comes to children’s books. I very, very rarely purchase adult books since I don’t often reread them (and nowadays almost exclusively read on my Kindle app), but children’s books are my downfall. We currently own 68 children’s Christmas books (and probably over 500 other children’s books) – yeesh! I’ve read a million more from the library and just love them.

But if I were to pick only 25 Christmas picture books I absolutely must have in our personal library, then this would be the list. It’s the set I’m wrapping for my kids to open one each day in December, because while it’s extra work, somehow the surprise and excitement each day makes it magical and completely worth it. It also ensures we read each of those special books.

I hope this list brings your family joy, as well! Do you have any must-read favorites not on this list? I’d love to hear!

  1. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – This list isn’t in order, but this is maybe my #1 favorite Christmas book. Such a tender story.
  2. Christmas Day in the Morning – Well, maybe alongside this one. Another beautiful winner.
  3. Bear Stays Up for Christmas – All the bear books are cute, but there’s just something so charming and heartwarming about the friendships in this one.
  4. The First Christmas – I think the silhouette art in this one is stunning, and I love that the text comes straight from the King James Version of the Bible.
  5. Dream Snow – Eric Carle meets Christmas magic. I love the translucent snow pages. Plus, my kids love that little music button at the end.
  6. The Polar Express – How could this NOT be on the list? Classic story and illustrations that are the epitome of Christmas magic. Someone gifted us the 30th anniversary edition last year and it has beautiful full-page bleed (instead of the white border from previous versions) and a keepsake ornament.
  7. The Snowy Day – I love the stamps that came out honoring this book last year almost as much as I love the book itself.
  8. Once Upon a Northern Night – The illustrations and poetry in this one are just stunning.
  9. The First Christmas – This is long-ish but is a great and true-to-the-scriptures retelling of the nativity story with lovely artwork.
  10. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree – Another heartwarming story. I love the family relationships in this one.
  11. Bunny Slopes – This one is just pure winter fun!
  12. The Night Before Christmas – There are so so many versions of this story out there, but my very favorite is the Robert Sabuda pop-up one. All his books are beautiful, but this one is a particular winner, I think.
  13. The Trees of the Dancing Goats – This is such a sweet story about some Jewish and Christian neighbors who celebrate their holidays together.
  14. Room for a Little One – Perfect for tiny kiddos, this is the sweetest little nativity story with animals inviting in the newborn Savior.
  15. Christmas Farm – I love this one that shows the process of becoming a Christmas tree and a sweet intergenerational friendship. And my kids love the age of a Christmas tree guide at the end!
  16. Samurai Santa – This one is pure fun, and my kids get a kick out of it every time. Who knew ninjas and Christmas were a match made in heaven?
  17. Red and Lulu – We all fell hard last year for this beautiful book about the Rockefeller Tree. Has a sweet friendship between a pair of birds.
  18. Silent Night, Holy Night – Another long and perhaps more adult-ish one, but I love having my kids learn about this true story of the Christmas truce during World War I.
  19. Stable in Bethlehem – Our oldest received this as a gift from the church nursery when he was 2 and it’s always warmed my heart. Countdown books are always fun, and this is a perfectly sweet nativity version for the youngest book-lovers.
  20. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Some Seuss books are a little goofy for me, but I just adore this one. The illustrations, the message, the meter…everything about it is so quintessentially Christmas.
  21. Walk This World at Christmastime – The illustrations and flaps in this one are beautiful and fascinating.
  22. A Christmas Carol – This is the perfect children’s version of the classic story in my book. It has a rich story and illustrations, and while it’s a tad on the longer side, it’s still doable as a bedtime story.
  23. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree – A classic for a reason.
  24. This Is the Stable – A short and sweet retelling of the nativity story. I love the meter of this one.
  25. Nutcracker. I’m putting this one last because I kept debating which version to include in this list and I just couldn’t decide. So here are three that I love – pick your favorite(s)!
    1. The absolute classic version
    2. Gorgeous silhouette illustrations with a huge pop-up at the end
    3. Has buttons to push for clips of the Tchaikovsky’s ballet

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