Christmas Reading

15 beautiful Christmas picture books to inspire your children and draw them into the wonder and majesty of the birth of Jesus.

Last year we did a Christmas countdown by having books for them to unwrap each night leading up to Christmas.  This year, they have been clamoring to do it again, so we are doing a countdown until we leave to visit Mima and Pa on the 22nd.  In order to break things up a bit, I’m also adding in a certificate for hot cocoa (and letting them pick out a previously read Christmas book), a Christmas movie and an impromptu Christmas lights walk around the neighborhood.

There are so many wonderful Christmas books out there.  Here is a list of some of our favorites:

The First Christmas ~ This was Xander’s first Christmas book.  His Aunt B gave it to me when after we announced we were pregnant.  My family loves Tomie dePaola and this pop-up book is beautiful and entertaining.  This book is fragile, so it is a very special read with mom (or dad) kind of book and we enjoy it immensely every year!  I put this in the “must own” category since even if the library did have it, it would most likely be destroyed.

The Christmas Story ~ If you have never read a book illustrated by Gennady Spirin, you are missing out!  This gloriously illustrated version utilizes text straight from the Bible and is just stunning.  The book is rich in symbolism and imagery.   One of these days, I’m going to own a Gennady Spirin book.  The library carries many of his books!   We enjoyed his Easter book this last year too!

The Story of Christmas ~ I love this illustrator.  We own Brother Sun, Sister Moon.  And in the same beautiful, reverent Pennsylvania-German folk-art style, she illustrates the Christmas account from the King James Version.

A Child is Born ~ this is a faithful adaptation of the biblical nativity account. There is something so beautiful and haunting about the illustrations. There is something very dejavu’ about this, so maybe I read these when I was young.

An Angel Came to Nazareth ~ this creative take on the nativity story centers around giving 4 animals their choice of rider.  The illustrations are beautiful.  I love the gold filigree and the textured art is just asking to be stroked and explored by tiny fingers!

The Christmas Story: Told through Paintings ~ I love this book put out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Xander and I spent so much time pouring over the paintings last year.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he notices this year.  The explanations of the symbolism in the artwork is fantastic.

The Clown of God  ~ This tear-jerker is a favorite of mine from childhood.  It always inspires me to love Jesus with all that is within me.

The Tale of Three Trees ~ This is one of my favorite Christmas books because of it’s unique approach to the birth of Christ and because it ties the birth of Jesus in nicely with his life and death.  This makes it perfect for both Christmas and Easter reading.  And really, the birth of Jesus wouldn’t mean much if not for his death and ressurection!

The Legend of the Poinsettia ~ Tomie de Paola is just awesome and this unique story is fun to read.  It provides a very relatable way of explaining Christmas customs in other parts of the world.

Santa, Are You for Real? ~ For me, the 1970’s illustrations are a must with this book.  It’s all about nostalgia.  We read this book when we were kids and I went to ebay to find a copy with the classic 70’s style artwork.  I talked about it last year.  It is a great book that relates who St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) really was – a man who loved Jesus and other people.

This is the Stable ~ This is a clever rhyming book based on the “This is the House that Jack Built”.  The way it builds and rhymes makes it easy for the little’s to remember what they are reading about!

The Third Gift ~ This book brought me to tears.  It is fictional story of a boy who collects myrrh resin with his father. This simple, moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We Three Kings ~ Gennady Spirin’s luxurious paintings are a perfect fit to accompany the words of the carol We Three Kings.  It is a pure delight to the eyes and as long as your kids enjoy the pictures, they probably won’t mind your singing… 😉  At least that’s how it works in our house!

The First Noel ~ Another book with unique illustrations bringing the words to a Christmas carol to life.

The Mitten ~ Although more of a ‘winter’ book than a Christmas book, I enjoy adding it to mix things up.  It is a beautiful story adaption of a Ukranian folktale.

One Wintry Night ~ This illustrated chapter book is about a boy who gets injured and takes shelter in a cabin belonging to a widow.  Here he encounters Jesus in an unexpected way.

What’s on your “must read” list for Christmas books?


  1. Anonymous says:

    My family has enjoyed “One Wintry Night”. It is a bit longer, but wonderful book.

  2. If you like Gennady Spirin, have you tried his “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? He is a wonderful artist.

  3. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and Jan Chapman. I agree that “One Wintery Night” has also become one of my favorites. I just found it this year.

  4. I read One Wintery Night last year, but Xander was a bit on the young side. I’ll definitely be trying it again.

    Thanks for the other suggestions. I’ll have to check those out!

  5. I was totally going to do this next year! Thanks for all the great book suggestions. I’ll have to check all of those out. This year we bought our little guy the “Legend of the Candy Cane”. I really enjoyed that.

  6. I’ve read reviews for that book, but never actually read it. I’ll have to check it out sometime!

  7. The Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey!

  8. What I love about This Is The Stable are the illustrations. They are luminous!
    We love Tome DePaola, too!

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