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Our 10 Favorite Christmas Picture Books (& one of our frugal yearly traditions!)

Christmas Picture Books to read as a family! This is a unique and frugal holiday tradition the kids will LOVE!

Making memories together doesn’t have to be complicated and costly! One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to read picture books with the kids. And even though they are 11, 9, and 7, they still humor me and listen in. I think they enjoy it, too! 😉

When they were younger, we’d get a stack of books from the library, wrap up the books individually, and they’d get to unwrap one per day during December to read. (You could also turn this idea into an Advent Countdown Activity, too!)

This year, we’re skipping the wrapping part since it’s not the thrill it once was when they were younger, but we’re reading one Christmas or winter-themed picture book together every night — either after dinner at the table or right before the kids go to bed.

Our Favorite Christmas Books

Our Favorite Christmas Books

We stopped by the library earlier this week and checked out a big stack of Christmas books (our library has a limit of 30 books checked out at a time!)

I was excited to find some new-to-us library books to read this year along with some of our longtime favorites and am looking forward to making more December read-aloud memories together.

This is such a simple and frugal tradition, but it’s one we’ll probably always look back on in years to come with so many fond memories.

Our Favorite Christmas Books

Our Favorite Christmas Books

10 of our Favorite Christmas Picture Books:

What is one of your family’s favorite Christmas books? Leave a comment so I can check to see if our library has it!

I share more about this tradition here on yesterday’s YouTube video. By the way, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for new money-saving ideas, simple recipes, and practical home management ideas every week!

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  • Theresa says:

    This is a great idea. Do you return the books to the library as you finish them so other families can enjoy them too? It seems a little self-serving to check out a huge stack of Christmas books and keep them all season.

    • Yes, of course!! 🙂 And I also wanted to mention that our library had a LOT of Christmas books — so there were a lot left even though we checked out a huge stack. Our library had multiple copies of many of the books, too.

      • Theresa says:

        That’s awesome your library has so many Christmas books! We have a small collection (about 10) that we bring out every year. I usually buy Christmas picture books after Christmas on clearance.

  • Rose says:

    Being a former children’s librarian , I am familiar with [and love] most of these books you showed : ) I still read “A Christmas Carol” every year : )

  • Brooke says:

    We do this as well with our 7,5, and 3 yr olds. They still love the unwrapping part! 🙂 Two of our very favorites are Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones (love her!) and This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten (stunning illustrations and a lullaby like rhythm). Thanks for sharing your list! I’m always looking for new books to add to our collection.

  • Quinn says:

    My daughter is 3 so we are juat getting into reading Christmas book. I love and she likes Room for Little One.

    Here is a beautiful list of Christmas books!!

    • Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Kristin A. says:

      I agree with Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell and would add Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary’s Christmas Gift by Jeannine Q. Norris. Both are among my faves, which is really saying something because I am not good at picking favorites! I love children’s books, but especially children’s holiday books.

  • Jessica says:

    THE MIRACLE OF SAINT NICHOLAS by Gloria Whelan! It is utterly gorgeous to read and to look at! My most favorite Christmas book! (Well, besides the infancy narratives in the Bible, obviously.) 😉

    (I love that I spy AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS in your book stack! Our homeschool group is going to a showing of the children’s opera next week!)

  • Ruth says:

    I’m still stuck at the fact you can only check out thirty books at a time from your library. We can have 100 per card and we have seven cards. Not that we’ve ever maxed out all our cards, but we’ve been close to 100 quite often. 🙂

  • Anna says:

    I just watched your video on the MSM FB page yesterday and went straight to our library. My kids are 12 and 13.5 now and we are reading picture books for advent like we used to do up until a couple years ago. Old fave book: One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham and new fave: Mom’s Christmas Jam by Andrea and Brian Pinkney (great book by an African-American couple). I hope you can get a chance to read these. I really think your kids will like these books!

  • denise says:

    I don’t believe in Santa or telling kids Santa exists but I love the children’s book The Polar Express so much! I love the story and the illustrations!

    • Jessica says:

      Denise, although every family handles this differently, we choose to tell our children about the REAL, flesh and blood “Santa Claus” – Saint Bishop Nicholas, a man born in a town called Patara in a country that is now Turkey. He was a good and generous man, and he became the Bishop of a city called Myra. He secretly threw a bag of gold into the home of an impoverished man during the night, which is why we give gifts as a “surprise” in the morning to remember his Christian act of kindness!

  • Leona says:

    I fondly remember sitting in my bean bag reading “The Sweet Smells of Christmas” by Patricia Scarry. I loved to sniff the sweet clean pine. Great idea… I may have to check out the library w/my kiddos since all of our books are packed since we are moving.

  • Megan says:

    Love this idea! I just went through all these recommendations and requested a bunch from our library. Even my 10 year-old still loves picture books. One of our favorites is The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree. It’s told in rhyme, and my kids just love it.

  • Sheri says:

    A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is by far my favorite, and my kids are finally old enough to sit through and appreciate it! It’s a longer read – I’ll spread it over 2 or 3 nights. I paid $16 for a USED copy and never once regretted it. It’s both heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time. Truman’s telling of his own childhood brings on the laughter and tears.

  • Cindy says:

    We have our favorites that we check out every year too! Here are 10 of ours: The Carpenter’s Gift (story of the Rockefeller Christmas tree), The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans, Christmas is Here (living nativity) by Lauren Castillo, The Christmas Pageant by Jacqueline Rogers (it has songs interspersed and my kids took it upon themselves to put this on as a pageant for us before we even opened up our gifts last Christmas…best gift ever!), An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco, Pippi Longstocking’s After Christmas Party by Astrid Lindgren, The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon, One Splendid Tree by Eve Merriam, The Christmas Box by Eve Merriam, The Man of the House at Huffington Row by Mary Brigid Barrett…Oh and one more…Night Tree by Eve Bunting (it’s fun to make bird seed ornaments to hang outside to go along with this one!!) Hope you find some at your library! Enjoy!

  • Laurajane says:

    These are not Christmas picture books. However, we have 4 children of all ages, and our family had so enjoyed reading aloud the Advent books by Arnold Ytreeide. There are four books-Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, Tabitha’s Travels and Ishtar’s Odyssey. You read one chapter every night until Christmas . The author is an amazing author, and the stories are so engaging. Our family always wants to read one more chapter instead of waiting until the next day. We so enjoy being taken back in time to the birth of Jesus!

  • Tamara says:

    The Donkey’s Dream by Helen Barbara Berger has been a favorite in our house since the mid eighties. A gentle, beautifully illustrated telling of Jesus’ birth from the perspective of the humble donkey. Most definitely worth ordering should the library not have it.

  • Stacey says:

    An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant

    • Cindy says:

      I’ll have to check out the Cynthia Rylant book…she’s one of our favorite authors! She wrote a Cobble Street Cousins series of easy chapter books that is just adorable!!

  • Sarah says:

    We love Christmas books and now get to enjoy them with our nieces and nephews. Some of our favorites are The Bird’s Christmas Carol (Yes, it’s a little sad, but so sweet!) and Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas. A new Christmas book we found a couple of years ago is Sparkle Box which I think your family would enjoy! And new to us this year is Christmas Oranges. 🙂

  • heather says:

    We read a book each night and also do some kind of craft each night in December. We have quite the collection of Christmas story books. I like that they are ours and we can read them when ever we want and can pass them on to my grandchildren some day. I get them at the end of the season or the kids have used gift cards they have gotten as presents.

  • Stacy says:

    Our favorite Christmas book is The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg.

  • Emily says:

    Great idea! The kids love getting out our Christmas stack every year – and I loved to as a kid, also. I never thought about making a tradition of reading them each night, though.

    We love Moosletoe and The Gingerbread Mouse

  • Thanks for sharing your favorites, we are always looking for new good books to read. I just shared some of our favorites Christmas reads on my blog,

    My older kids really like reading chapter book aloud now. Some of favorite Christmas themed ones are The Family Under the Bridge and Nancy and Plum

  • Diane says:

    An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Pollaco, The Year of the PerfeCT Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, and The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado.

  • Chrissie Thatcher says:

    Will you be on Youtube now? More than Periscope and FB LIve? I always try to keep up with where to find you!

  • Chloe says:

    Have you tried the Jotham’s journey books? My 19 year old sister, 17 year old brother and 16 year old sister and I love hearing my Dad read them to us yearly.

  • We love Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins by Jim Forest.

  • Paula says:

    God Gave Us Christmas and the entire God gave us series.

    • Chuck says:

      Mr. J has a pretty sweet job! That ham looks delicious; the glaze sounds incdireble. And, I'm looking forward to that tiramisu post…Best wishes for a happy holiday and healthy new year for you and your family, Ellie!

  • Alicia says:

    You said one…but it’s too hard to choose just one! 🙂

    Marta and the Manger Straw has a beautiful theme of giving from poverty.
    Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden is just sweet.
    The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaola
    The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie DePaola
    The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry illustrated by PJ Lynch

    Okay…I’ll stop. The rest of our list is at

    Thanks for sharing your favorites!

    • Love it! Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Jessica says:

        Alicia, we LOVE Tomie dePaola’s work as well, God bless him. His “The Friendly Beasts” is another wonderful book for Christmas. And his compilation “Joy To The World” includes “The Legend of the Poinsettia” (which is such a lovely retelling about offering anything and everything to Jesus and watching Him work miracles!)

        I second The Gift of the Magi that is illustrated by PJ Lynch – we have the same version and the pictures are beautiful.

  • Laura says:

    Word of advice, please check with your library prior to doing this. This was one of the biggest pains to deal with in my library because we would be wiped out (a 20 library system with millions of items) by Thanksgiving and have to break every child’s heart who came in looking for something.

    These books are already hard enough to keep on the shelves and it’s unfair to others when the books have been wrapped up and unenjoyed for weeks. Some libraries don’t have a large enough collection for every family who wants to participate like this.

    It’s just a different perspective to keep in mind. If you do do this, just remember not to leave tape on the books & mix in some non-holiday favorites to change it up!

    I love the Pirate’s Night Before Christmas. I always do the voices when I read to my godchildren.

    • Yes! Definitely. Our library had a huge selection… but I know not all libraries do. I definitely recommend returning them as you read them — or just checking out a few at a time!

  • DARLA says:

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a short chapter book that is a great read aloud.

  • Karen says:

    Another idea is to read selected Christmas passages from chapter books. The ones which come to my mind are the Christmas when Laura gets a candy cane and penny from Little House and the Big Woods and Francie and her brother get a Christmas tree from a Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham would be a fun read which would be enjoyed by teenagers.

  • We read The Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco every Christmas Eve. It makes me cry every time I read it.

  • Kathryn says:

    I really like “The Nativity” with illustrations by Julie Vivas. It has text straight from the bible, and the pictures are *gorgeous*.
    I’m also really looking forward to “When Santa learned the Gospel” which will be published next year and I know will be a new favourite. (The author is running a Kickstarter campaign at the moment – the story is a beautifully written comparison of the message of Santa (do good to get good) and the grace of the Gospel. Really sweet story and very helpful message for this time of year.

  • Renee Cook says:

    Thanks for the list!! Definitely going to request them on hold next December 🙂 And i might actually remember because I’m taking a tip from you and google calendar brain dumping it all the way to next November 27, 2017. That way I don’t have to remember. Google calendar can remember for me 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    We always have a stack of Christmas books too! Thank you for your recommendations. We own some and get some from the library every year. We love the Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey! Another favorite which I’ve never found at the library but is worth the purchase is: Findus at Christmas by Sven Nordqvist. It’s a really beautiful story about community coming together. Findus the cat and his owner are real characters and the illustrations are so fun. My girls wanted to share that they also love Olivia Helps at Christmas which is fun and a 12 days of Christmas book that drives me nuts, ha ha! It’s a very pretty book but I get tired of singing that song.
    We try some from the library every year. I usually try to find a version of Gift of the Magi. This year we enjoyed Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas by Russell Hoban.

  • Nancy says:

    The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and The Tale of Three Trees, although this can be read all year.

  • Jessica says:

    We loooove Christmas books of all kinds! Our library system covers the whole state. So I go online and pick a bunch. When they all arrive at my local library, we go and pick them up to together and dig in ❤️

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