Christmas Books

When we were first married, my hubby and I talked about each of our families Christmas traditions and which ones we wanted to incorporate in our own family. We have used some traditions from both our families and then started some new ones we have adopted from our friends families.

This Christmas book tradition was inspired by one of my students when I was still teaching high school. She explained to me one day how every Christmas season, they would buy a new Christmas book to add to their growing collection. Each night, her siblings would take turns picking a book to read together as a family bedtime story, saving the new book to read on Christmas Eve. I loved this idea as soon as I heard about it and so we added this to our list of Christmas traditions.


We have acquired about 18 books now most we purchased as that year’s book (one each year) and some were given to us as gifts. We usually start our books around December 6, so that we can read one book a night. I wrap all the books each year (to solve fighting over who gets to pick which book as some are more popular than others) in the same wrapping paper, except for the new book. This new book is wrapped in a different paper and is saved until all the other books have been read. This book is read on a special night (more to come on that later) which we usually try to do on December 23.

I have really enjoyed this tradition as it brings a nice Christmasy feeling into our home each night. Most of the books have a nice Christmas theme to remind us of the “real reason for the season”. In fact, it is probably MY favorite Christmas tradition!

Here is a list of the books we have (although there are many other great books out there). This tradition can also be altered to represent the other December holidays you as a family may be celebrating other than Christmas (ie. Kwanza, Chanaukka, St. Nicholas Day, Boxing Day, St. Lucia Day, etc.)

1. Bear Stays Up For Christmas; Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
2. Welcome Comfort; Patricia Polaco
3. The Giving Tree; Shel Silverstein
4. The Polar Express; Chris Van Allsburg
5. You Are Special; Max Lucado
6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Dr. Suess
7. The Touch of the Master’s Hand; Myra Brooks Welch
8. The King’s Highway; Heward Fullmer
9. Christmas Day in the Morning; Pearl S. Buck
10. Too Many Frogs; Sandy Asher
11. I Believe in Santa Claus; Diane G. Adamson
12. A Wish to be a Christmas Tree; Colleen Monroe
13. Christmas Oranges; Linda Bethers
14. Snowmen at Christmas; Caralyn Buehner
15. The Story of Holly and Ivy; Rumer Godden
16. Christmas Tapestry; Patricia Polaco
17. The Tale of Three Trees; Angela Elwell Hunt
18. Jacob’s Gift; Max Lucado

For a printable version of the above list, click here.

What are some of your favorite Christmas (or other holiday) books?




  1. Anonymous says

    I love the book idea! We are going to start that at our house. I'm off to round up all of our Christmas books and if I need more I'll grab some from my kindergarten classroom. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Shauna_Rae says

    We bought the book "Humphrey's First Christmas" last year. I LOVE the illustrations and message. We too wrap our Christmas books, BUT I love the idea of wrapping the new book in special paper for a special night. Thanks for always sharing!!!

  3. Jenna says

    This is a great idea! Growing up, my aunt used to give my family a new book like these every year to enjoy together. I've adapted the same idea to my little family and have purchased one age appropriate book for each of my boys each year. However, I can quickly see that getting expensive as our family grows. I love your idea of wrapping them! What a clever way to build anticipation and excitement, and reading one each night is so smart. Clever, clever.

  4. Jenna says

    Oh, forgot to answer your question… Some of my favorite Christmas books are "The Crippled Lamb" by Max Lucado, "The Legend of the Candy Cane" by Lori Walburg VandenBosch, "The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree" by Gloria Houston, and "Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect" by Richard Schneider. ALL very good! Louisa May Alcott also wrote a few Christmas stories that I enjoyed, but they aren't really childrens stories.
    Last year I bought "Christmas in the Manger" by Nola Buck for my littlest one. It's a board and very simple.

  5. The Thomas Family says

    I really love this idea!

    My husband and I have been married for 2 1/2 years and have an 18 month. With the Christmas season about to begin we have been talking about traditions we want to really start. Thank you so much for this post. I read your post to my husband and we will be added it to our traditions!

  6. Jessica says

    What a wonderful idea! We may have to start that at our house. I especially like the idea of wrapping the new book in special paper. A Christmas favorite around here is When Christmas Came by Eileen Spinelli; the illustrations are wonderful and there are many layers of meaning so it's great for all ages.

  7. { L } says

    I JUST love Christmas kids books! We have a collection we add to also. This year I got Christmas Cookie and it is ADORABLE! I highly recommend it.

  8. Julie Harward says

    Thats a sweet tradition. We love Christmas books too, my daughter recently found the exact book she loved growing up in our home and she was so excited! Reading…One of the very best things a parent can do with and for a child. Come say hi :D

  9. BJ_Mama says

    OH MY!!!! thanks for the GREAT idea! We are totally doing this in our family starting this year!!! LOVE IT!!!!! (In fact, I'm going to do this as our advent calendar….WAY better than Candy!)

  10. The Sice Family says

    Love this! Great idea to use in my kindy class!
    An old favourite story (that I read to the kindy kids today!) is The Bears'Christmas by San and Jan Berenstain. Hilarious – the Dad is a total goofball! Wendy xx

  11. asnipofgoodness says

    We always display and read our many Christmas books during the holidays, but we don't have a specific tradition surrounding them. I love your idea! I have a friend that gets her children so many books each Christmas that she makes a trailing line from their beds to the tree each year on Christmas morning!

  12. The Manlupig Mob says

    We also do this as our traditon, I love how you wrap the books tho. Since my kids are only 4 and 5 we don't quite have enough to do the wrapping of each book, but we do buy a new one each year. costco usually has a great one that we choose.

    Last year it was The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett. it was such a great book we kept it out all year long. the illustrations are amazing and we love looking at them!
    We got the gingerbread one she wrote this year. can't wait to start reading it.

  13. Dean, Andrea, and Tanner says

    My family did that growing up and now I'm trying to incorporate it with my own little family. Love it!

  14. Sherri says

    WOW! Thanks for sharing this! I can't wait to start this with my family. My kiddos are 2 and 4 but I think they would enjoy this too! I agree, teaching children the true meaning of this time of year is what is most important to me :) Thank you for sharing this!

  15. Anonymous says

    We have a similar tradition…my DH has bought me a new Christmas every year since we have been togethor…long before we had kids…he knew I was a big kid at heart even then…20 years togethor I have quite the collection…

  16. Michelle says

    Love this! We started doing it last year and we will be doing it from now on. Thanks for sharing…I almost forgot that I need to start wrapping them!!!

  17. Des says

    We do the same thing although I'm not as ambitious as you are and I skip the wrapping. But I can see how nice that is with lots of kids needing to choose.

    My must have Christmas books are: The Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey!!!!

    And "Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl Buck. OH, it's so touching and sweet and just the message I want to give to my kids. In fact, they've taken it to heart on several occassions!!

    Tip: We buy a new book every year AFTER Christmas and get it for 50%off!! Wrap it up and it's good to go for next year. You can even get the great popular Deseret Book Christmas ones at 50% after Christmas. Good Luck! And thanks for your awesome blog!

  18. Kate @ The Gaines Gang says

    I love this. We too have always read books but I love the idea of wrapping them.

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Beau and Jen says

    My Mother-in-Law does a tradition like this. Every year gives us a new Christmas book and we read it as a family (everyone takes a turn reading a page) and gives us an ornament that goes along with the book to put on our tree to remind us of the book and that years Christmas memories. I love it and always look forward to it every year!
    Thanks for sharing your tradition!

  20. Lisa says

    Wow! What a great idea! I teach pre-kindergarten kiddos and will definitely add this to my December letter! One book that is a must for me to read to them each year is "Franklin's Christmas Gift" by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. It's a great story about sharing with the less fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving–Lisa

  21. Skooks says

    "God Gave Us Christmas" by Lisa Tawn Bergren. I got this for my daughter to read to her this Christmas season and it is already at the top of the most requested books for bedtime list. :) And it's not even December.

  22. Tiffany says

    I ♥ this idea! We love to read. I love the idea of the kids getting to unwrap a book each night & that it is a surprise. We are going to start this now.

  23. Valerie says

    I collect Christmas books too! I love the idea of wrapping them up. One of my kid's favorites is "Santa Mouse" by Michael Brown. And "The Santa Claus Book" by Alden Perkes is well worn from years of reading. I try to choose a good mix of secular and religious themes. It will be great to check out some of the other suggestions.

  24. Just Rhonda says

    We collect them too! We combine our books and our activities and the advent calendar. Each day says the name of a book we read and then the activity or craft has to do with the book. IE a story about a Christmas trees and we will decorate the tree, or gingerbread man and we will bake gingerbread cookies. Clear as mud? :)

  25. Heidi says

    Like others we have a similar tradition. My favorites are The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski, Mortimer's Christmas Manger By Karma Wilson, Queen of Christmas, by Mary Englebriet, and Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood. I recently started a blog sharing our family's favorite children's books. It is http://[email protected] and I was just saying I would like to start a similar tradition for November with Thanksgiving!

  26. Beth says

    Ah… Christmas books. I have SO many, I don't know where to start. Patricia Polacco, Tomie dePaola, Jan Brett, Cynthia Rylant are some of my favorite authors and they each have a bunch of great Christmas stories. A childhood favorite is Ruby the Donkey by Mirabel Cecil. I'm going to blog about a couple a day throughout December! We don't wrap ours, but we definitely make it a point to read as many as we can before the season is over!!

  27. Anonymous says

    What a great idea! we have a collection of books but I like the idea of wrapping them and also I like the wrapping the new one. We might have to start this. Thanks for the idea!

  28. Rainy Day Farm says

    We do the same thing in our house. We love getting a new book each year. I love your idea of wrapping them and opening one a day. That would be so fun for the kids to get to open a gift each day! I am going to try that this year. This year I am going to buy The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck. It is a wonderful story!

  29. missy says

    We love a whimsical illustrated book called "A snowman named just Bob" by Mark Kimball Moulton. We've collected all his books now. Also we love all the Mary Engelbriet books too!

    I'm thankful for this blog! Happy Thanksgiving.

  30. Krista says

    We do this too, but I love the wrapping the book up part…I will definitely do that this year….if you don't have Santa's Twin written by Dean Koontz, its a good one, long, but my kids love it, because it rhymes through out the whole book and on every page you can try to find a snowman, which isn't easy for the adults sometimes, so it makes it a challenge and all my kids love it from ages 4 to 10. Thanks again Amy for your cute blog…I love it.

  31. Suzie Button says

    I also thought to start the Christmas book tradition this year too since we have our first grandbaby added to the family, so I bought her a "baby's first christmas" story this year, and plan to add an age appropriate book each christmas from Grammie and Grandpa! Suzie

  32. The Fifield Kail Family! says

    That is a great Idea we also do something similar every year. Have you seen the new recordable books from Hallmark? There a little pricey but so sweet. Grandma sent one for our 3 year old (he's been sick and missing her) and he loves it. It's the night Before Christmas done all in her voice, Tonight he set in my lap and we listened to it 5 times.=)

  33. Sherri says

    We do this with my kids! :) Its a great tradition. We've done it every year since my daughter was 1.5 and she's turning 7.5 this Christmas Eve. I have always been a lover of Children's books so I had enough Christmas books to last 25 days before I ever had kids but you can always check some out at the library to help fill in until you build your stash! Just be sure you read those in a timely manner so you don't have late fees. ;) We now have over 60 Christmas books so its harder to decide which ones to wrap up each year. I've started wrapping two or more books together for some of the nights because my daughter likes to read one to her brother after we've read one to them both.

  34. Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom says

    I've been working on a collection for my daughter, and we supplement with library books so we can read a different book each day of December leading up to Christmas. Thanks for including your list, I'm always looking for book suggestions!

    One you don't have that we like is "If you take a mouse to the movies" (from the if you give a mouse a cookie series)

  35. Claudia says

    One of my new favorites which I think you would like too is a true story written by Frank McCourt titled Angela and the Baby Jesus.When Frank's mother Angela was little she took the baby Jesus from their church Nativity scene, becuase she thought he was cold, and took him home to keep him warm. It's a sweet story and it's illustrated so beautifully.

  36. **Amy** says

    Thank you for all of your comments and book referrals! I now have a growing list of books to acquire! I also like the idea from a few of you to supplement with books from the library. I am going to do that! I have also added a link in the above post so that you can now download a printable version of the books listed for those of you who asked!

  37. Jinny Newlin says

    Oooh! I just love children's books! I hope you don't mind, but I posted your list, along with mine, on my blog. What a great idea! Now, everyone will have a super list to share with their families this Christmas.

  38. Kerilyn says

    "The Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey" is one of my favorites. There's a movie by the same title.

  39. McKenzie says

    We have been doing this but my stepson is now almost 13 and no longer loves to read :-( Any suggestions???

    • Sabina says

      McKenzie, maybe your stepson would enjoy a Christmas novel – one that you could read a chapter of each night? I remember being in 7th grade, listening to my English teacher read a chapter of a novel to us each day, and I loved it. You could read it together before bed, or sit in his room and read it to him after he is in bed. That would make it feel like a special December treat. I hope he will enjoy that!
      I know there are a lot of short Christmas novels, but the only one that comes to mind at the moment is Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. I’ll bet there’s a list on Amazon of Christmas books for teens…

  40. says

    I LOVE this! I wish I had read this post a week ago….We just bought 24 books (30 actually!) to wrap up as an advent calendar this year. But I really like your idea of one special book per year. Well, maybe we will still do the advent, but donate them to charity as we go along! Then buy that one special book for Christmas Eve! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  41. Lisa says

    This is a great idea I do read Christmas stories as well I have The Legend of the Candy Cane, From God With Love, The Tale of Three Trees, The Crippled Lamb, Miracle in a Shoe Box. I am going to add some of your ideas too. I love your website, there are too many great things. Have a Great day!

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