Christmas Books for Families

As Christmas approaches, there are many wonderful holiday traditions to create with young children.  A friend recently gave me a new suggestion:  wrap 25 children’s books individually, put them under the tree and allow them to open one each night.  Below are some timeless Christmas classics and new favorites to choose from:


Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden and Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Readers will adore this beautiful story about a young orphaned girl and a doll, both all alone in the world, and in search of a true home for Christmas.


Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation by Linas Alsenas

Amusing tale about Mrs. Claus, who gets fed up with her 24/7 Christmas existence and decides to take a vacation alone!  Although she sends Santa cheerful postcards from each destination, loneliness creeps in eventually and she is reminded of how important she is to Santa and the preparations for Christmas. 


Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray and Illustrated by Barry Root

Beautiful illustrations are found on each page as you read about a woman who decides to grow Christmas trees with the help of her young neighbor Parker.  As the trees grow and the seasons change, so does Parker.  The story is a tribute to the beautiful tradition of farming and the ever-changing seasons of life.


The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

This is a true classic about an adolescent boy on the cusp of losing his belief in Santa.  On Christmas Eve, he’s offered the chance to take a trip on a magical train ride to the North Pole.  His journey and what he learns along the way capture the spirit and importance of faith at Christmas.


The Attic Christmas by B.G. Hennessey and Illustrated by Dan Andreasen

A small group of cherished ornaments languish in the attic as Christmas Day approaches.  They are convinced they’ve been forgotten, as their longtime owner has passed away.  They reminisce about past Christmases and eventually decide to celebrate the holiday on their own, only to get an unexpected and wonderful Christmas surprise.


The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson and Illustrated by Laura Cornell

An abbreviated picture-book version of her original classic, this very amusing tale is all about the Herdman kids, a family of chronically misbehaving children, who have taken over the annual Christmas pageant in their usual bullying fashion.  The kids, despite their epic level of bad behavior, manage to turn the pageant into the most memorable one their town has ever seen with their honest and innocent portrayal of the miracle of Christmas. 


Pooch on the Loose:  A Christmas Adventure by Steven Kroll and Illustrated by Michael Garland

Little Bart is a city dog who isn’t happy to stay on his leash at Christmas.  One day, he escapes to visit all the famous sites he’s always wanted to see.  From dancing with the Rockettes to riding the Staten Island Ferry to ice skating at Rockefeller Center, this is one cute pooch who revels the charm and beauty of New York City at Christmas.


Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner by Tomie dePaola

A silly tale that paints Santa as an ordinary guy who comes from a family of kooks!  Santa decides to invite all of his oddball extended relatives to Christmas dinner, much to the dismay of Mrs. Claus.  Bring together several mischievous kids, one kleptomaniac aunt and a guest that comes with his own polar bear, and you’ve got a goofy story kids and parents alike will love. 


Emily’s Christmas Gifts by Cindy Post Jenning  and Peggy Post, and Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

A story written by etiquette experts about a young Emily Post.  She cheerfully reminds children of the important values of kindness and consideration for others at Christmas.


What the Little Fir Tree Wore to the Christmas Party by Satomi Ichikawa

A young fir tree is left behind in the forest, as all the other trees are chosen to go to the Christmas party. However, she is not alone and she along with the old bare tree will together have their own special Christmas party.  This sweet book celebrates the glory of nature in the wintertime.


The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

It’s the end of WWI, and deep within Appalachia country in the small town of Pine Grove, a little girl and her mother await the return of their soldier father/husband.  Ruthie’s family was chosen months ago to provide their town with its annual Christmas tree.  In her father’s absence, Ruthie and her mother must make the arduous journey into the woods to cut down and deliver the tree, so that Ruthie can be the angel in the Christmas play. The book’s finale matches the lovely message of faith found throughout the book.


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and Illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Gorgeous illustrations accompany a story that is sure to move one and all.  A widowed wood carver’s life is forever changed one Christmas when he is visited by a single mother and her son asking him to fulfill their one Christmas wish.  In doing so, he finds peace, love and healing from his own tragic past. 


Amy Warren is a freelance writer and mother of two young children.





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04 Dec 2014

By Amy Warren