My kids start making their Christmas lists for Santa in June and as much fun as the big guy can be, I want Christmas to mean more than Santa and present to my kids. We have worked on emphasizing the spirit of giving and sharing the story of Christmas with our twins the past few years.
One of the ways I do this is carefully choosing what books I bring into our home. We have a lot of favorites, and yes some of the have Santa in them, but I try to balance out the big man with messages about baby Jesus and the true Christmas story. Below are our favorites.
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6 Nativity Books for Babies & Toddlers
These books are ideal for babies and toddlers. The stories are simple, the text is brief, but the books are nonetheless beautiful. The books listed below are the ones we started reading as part of our 24 Books of Christmas when our twins were babies and they still loved in preschool.
1. A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck
A gentle goodnight story. A little boy says goodnight to each of the pieces of his nativity on Christmas Eve. This is told with sweet rhymes and illustrations. Simple enough for toddlers. Ages 1+
2. Who Is Coming to Our House? By Joseph Slate
“Who is coming to our house?” the animals ask. “Someone, someone” replies the mouse. Together they scurry about preparing for their mystery guest. Sweet story about simple preparations for Christmas and unique perspective on the Bethlehem story.
3. One Night in Bethlehem by Jill Roman Lord
Sweet touch-and-feel board book. Gentle introduction to the story of Christmas for infants and toddlers. Ages 0+
4. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
Another book about the animals that helped to welcome baby Jesus in the stable. Beautiful illustrations and quiet text. Perfect for little readers. Ages 1+
5. Stable in Bethlehem: A Countdown to Christmas by Joy N. Hulme
A sweet, sleepy board book that celebrates the simple story of Christmas in a counting format. Ages 1+
6. Musical Nativity by Usborne
A simple version of the Nativity for young readers paired with a song on each page. This press and play book brings to life the spirit of Christmas. I wish I had found this one years ago, but it will still be a hit with my music loving preschoolers. Ages 1+
6 Nativity Books for Preschoolers and Up
A little longer, a little more detailed, these are the books for preschoolers and up about the Nativity. Some of them, like The Little Drummer Boy, my kids have enjoyed since they were toddlers. You are the best judge of your child and their attention span – the ages listed are just a guideline.
1. The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
This was their hands down favorite Christmas book last year. Caldecott Winner, Ezra Jack Keats has softly illustrated this sweet, rhythmic carol with love. It is a gentle representation that I love and a book we can sing – which our kids love. Ages 3+
2. Christmas Mouseling by Dori Chaconas
A little mouseling is born on a cold winter’s night. His mother is searching for somewhere warm for them to rest. All the other animals offer their homes as they are headed off to see a king. A sweet perspective on the story of baby Jesus. Ages 2+
3. Wombat Divine by Mem Fox
Set in Australia, this is not your traditional Christmas book. Wombat loves Christmas and longs to be in the Nativity play. Will there be a part for Wombat in the play? Written by the lovely Mem Fox, this is a Christmas delight. Ages 3+
4. The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda
If you are looking for a beautiful interpretation of the Christmas story I don’t think you can do better than this stunning pop-up book. Sabuda, the masterful creator of America the Beautiful and The 12 Days of Christmas, tells the story of the birth of Jesus with six splendid pop up scenes. The illustrations are created with stark white and flourishes of gold foil that are bold against the backdrops. The detail and fullness of each scene brings the Nativity to life in this book that is sure to become a family holiday treasure in homes around the world. Ages 5+
5. The First Christmas Night by Keith Christopher
This simple retelling of the Christmas story is a great introduction for preschoolers. It was through the traditional story but following the rhythm of the NIght Before Christmas poem. Instead of telling the story of Santa popping into a house, it tells the story of Jesus being born with beautiful language and lovely painted illustrations.
6. Babushka: A Christmas Tale by Dawn Casey
This beautiful book tells the traditional Russian story of Babushka, an old grandmother too busy tidying her home to notice a brilliant star in the sky. On the eve of the first Christmas, three wise men appear at her doorstep and after welcoming them in to warm up inside they invite her to join them on their quest to find the newborn child. She chooses instead to stay behind and wash her dishes, but in the morning she changes her mind and sets up after their trail with a generous basket of gifts. She never finds the newborn Jesus, but instead she stumbles upon children all over Russia in great need of gifts and kindness. This story is less about the Nativity, although it is briefly included, but is a unique take on the story of Jesus and the wise men and overall a beautiful message about Christmas.
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