This post was updated in December of 2021.
I tend to lean slightly minimalist. With 5 kids, that doesn’t always happen, 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, of course, when it comes to Christmas picture 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 nearly 75 children’s Christmas books and I still love finding new ones!
Best Christmas Picture Books for Our Christmas Book Advent
I were to pick only 25 Christmas picture books I for our personal library, then this would be the list. It’s the set I wrap each year for my kids to open one each day in December for our Christmas book advent. It’s extra work, but the surprise and excitement each day makes it magical and worth it. It also ensures we get around to reading each of these special books. Our Christmas picture book advent is one of my favorite holiday traditions!
There are toddler Christmas books and ones that your teens will still love – although I find that when it comes to Christmas picture books, they all seem to appeal to all ages (myself included).
Diverse Christmas Books
It’s important to me to include some multicultural Christmas books, as well, and there are some fantastic ones in here. I love them not just for being inclusive, but just for being really fantastic books.
I hope this list of Christmas picture books brings your family joy, as well! Do you have any must-read favorites not on this list? Or do you do a Christmas book advent? I’d love to hear!
This list isn’t in order, but this is maybe my #1 favorite Christmas picture book. Such a tender story. While it has religious overtones, the focus is on kindness, inclusion, and generosity of spirit.
Well, that one may be my favorite right alongside this one. Another beautiful winner about how a simple act of service built feelings of love between a father and son.
Told in the idiom of Liberians who have recently learned English, this gorgeous Christmas picture book beautifully translates the nativity story into song-like verse. Absolutely stunning.
All the bear books are cute, but there’s just something so charming and heartwarming about the friendships in this Christmas picture book.
A classic and sweet little Christmas story for toddlers with animals inviting in the newborn Savior. Perfect as a toddler Christmas book.
Eric Carle meets Christmas magic. I love the translucent snow pages. Plus, my kids love that little music button at the end.
How could this NOT be on the list? Classic Christmas picture book 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).
A couple years ago, the Postal Service came out with some stamps honoring this book. I love them almost as much as the book itself. It’s not technically a Christmas picture book, but I love the cozy, wintry feel of it. I also love that it was the first Caldecott winner with a Black protagonist.
Perfect for the winter solstice, this gorgeously illustrated Christmas book for children is so cozy. I love the focus on rebirth and celebrating light over darkness.
I love this charming tale about a dog named Olive who thinks the tune “All of the other reindeer” is referring to her.
Another heartwarming holiday picture book. I love the family relationships in this one.
This one is just pure winter fun with sledding and sliding galore. It also has some interactive elements that make it perfect to add to your set of toddler Christmas books.
There are so so many versions of this story out there, but my very favorite is this Robert Sabuda pop-up one. All his books are beautiful, but this one is a particular winner.
This is a newer addition to our Christmas picture book list. It’s a warm story about Jewish and Christian neighbors who celebrate their holidays together.
I love this book that shows the growth process of a Christmas tree, as well as a sweet intergenerational friendship. And my kids love the age of a Christmas tree guide at the end!
Who knew ninjas and Christmas were a match made in heaven? Another great one to add to your stack of Christmas books for toddlers. We may have read this one more than any other book last year!
We all fell hard a couple years ago for this beautiful book about the Rockefeller Tree. It features a sweet friendship between a pair of birds and feels old-timey and classic, even though it’s a newer book. It’s become one of my very favorites over the last few years.
Matt Tavares came out with another Christmas picture book last year and it’s also delightful!.
The illustrations and poetry in this one are just stunning. A still, calm, beautiful holiday picture book.
A classic for a reason. With themes of sharing, generosity, and conservation, it subtly invites some reflection.
My kids think this tale of a Jewish couple making heaps of latkes for Hanukkah is absolutely hilarious – and honestly, so do I. We love reading it for Hanukkah and well beyond.
Another tale with too many versions to count, but I love this particular children’s Christmas book adaptation of the classic. 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.
A little church mouse manages to save the Christmas Even service. Sweet and tender, this Christmas picture book will charm even the youngest of readers.
A short and sweet retelling of the nativity story. I love the meter of this one.
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)!
When the author of Goodnight Moon writes a children’s Christmas book, you know it’s going to be sweet. This one is perfect for the tiniest of listeners.
Honorable Mention Christmas Books For Kids
Here are a just a few more Christmas picture books that we super love. These are ones we leave out prominently to read and that I might include in our Christmas picture book advent in the future!
Who isn’t charmed by a Latino version of the 12 Days of Christmas? Absolutely delightful. This one was new to our collection last year and it’s become a favorite.
I love any book that touches on holiday traditions in different cultures. This one features illustrations and flaps that are beautiful and fascinating.
We used to include this one in our Christmas book advent calendar but it’s a perfect Christmas picture book for sitting and perusing on those long December afternoons. My kids could look at this one for ages! So I prefer leaving this one out from the beginning of the season to look over.
I loved reading another Allen Say book for J is for Japan in the Global Children’s Book Club, and this one is equally delightful. A young boy who has never experienced Christmas before sees it through new eyes.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Honestly, this was one of those books that was always very high in our rotation for years. And then several years ago, we got rid of all our Dr. Seuss books due to the racist imagery and connotations in a number of his books. Even many of the ones that were not explicitly removed from bookshelves are rooted in racism (such as The Cat in the Hat and Blackface).
However, the Grinch is the one Seuss book we’ve held onto. After quite a bit of research, I haven’t been able to find anything explicitly racist in its inspiration or creation, and the message of love and unity truly is inspiring to me and my children. For this particular book, the good of remembering the true meaning of Christmas, and a focus on friendship and family aside from a love of things, is beautiful. We’ve had extensive conversations about Seuss, and I feel our family is able to hold onto this one for its good while acknowledging the great harm from many of his other books. The author also isn’t alive to continue to benefit from support, and we aren’t giving any more money to the organization as we already own a copy (the family organization has also acknowledged some of the harm). Our decision may change in the future, but for now, we feel okay with keeping the good in this particular work.
If you also choose to include this book, I encourage you to do so with caution as well as education and discussion as to the harm in the author’s other works. I also encourage you to seek out a used copy or library book if possible to avoid contributing more funds.
We started learning about Santa Lucia Day a few years ago and I think it’s such a lovely tradition and holiday. We love reading this book on December 13th and making lussekatter buns, for which there’s a recipe in the book.
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