Christmas read alouds picture books

adore Christmas picture books. Obviously, this blog is written because of a certain amount of obsession with children’s books in general – but Christmas picture books are among my absolute favorites.

We have a HUGE collection of them that I make myself box away every January and every December when we pull them out it is like unwrapping the best possible Christmas gift.

Since I read them by the stack, I thought I would share the best ones we have collected so far. These are the books that make us feel warm and happy and excited for the season.

We have some big family changes coming up in January and the Christmas season is always a little chaotic, so I made this month’s a Read a Day reading challenge simple: dive into a huge stack of Children’s Books and share your favorites.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas I apologize for this theme. I try to avoid themes that can’t be universally enjoyed but just this once I wanted to share my favorite holiday. Please feel free to share other winter holiday picture books with us or children’s books about Winter in place of Christmas books.

Below is our stack of books for the Christmas season and you can also download a printable version here. Happy Reading.

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Christmas read aloud picture books

Very Best Christmas Picture Books by Age

Every year I buy a couple new Christmas books for our collection. Below I have listed the best of the best. The ones that we get giddy about when we unpack our Christmas boxes each December.

I have divided them into rough categories by age. The first is a section of books that are best for babies, the second for toddlers and so on. My hope is that this will make it easier for you to find new favorites to add to your collection.

It is important to note however that these categories are not meant to prevent you from reading a “preschool book” to a baby or a “baby book” to a preschooler. My children have listened to The Polar Express every single Christmas of their lives because it is my absolute favorite. My twins also still look through the Christmas board books they have technically long outgrown every year.

Similarly, I put books in the youngest age group possible based mostly on length and content, so the baby books are still wonderful for toddlers. Many of the toddler books are fun for preschoolers and so on.

These are our absolute favorites. I hope you will share yours with us at #aReadaDay on Instagram all month so we can find great ones to add to our collection for next year.

5 Best Christmas Books for Babies and Up

1. One Night in Bethlehem by Jill Roman Lord
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Sweet touch-and-feel board book. Gentle introduction to the story of Christmas for infants and toddlers.

2. My First Christmas Board Book by DK Books
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Infants and Toddlers love simple point and label board books. This covers a range of typical holiday events and objects.

3. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
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Another book about the animals that helped to welcome baby Jesus in the stable. Beautiful illustrations and quiet text. Perfect for little readers.

4. Stable in Bethlehem: A Countdown to Christmas by Joy N. Hulme
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A sweet, sleepy board book that celebrates the simple story of Christmas in a counting format.

5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas 123 by Eric Carle
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This is a super simple Christmas counting book featuring Eric Carle’s trademark, beautiful illustrations. Count 1 Santa all the way up 10 wrapped presents.

18 Christmas Books for Toddlers and Up

1. Musical Nativity by Usborne
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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. 1+

2. Olivia Helps with Christmas
by Ian Falconer
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Getting ready for Christmas Olivia style – with lots of tangles and accidents.

3. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
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Karma Wilson is one of our favorite authors – especially her bear series. In this story, bear attempts to stay awake for Christmas Eve with his little friends.

4. Duck and Goose: It’s Time for Christmas by Tad Hills
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Goose is busy skating and playing in the snow. Duck is left with all the work of preparing for Christmas. Colorful, silly book about getting ready for the holidays.

5. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
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Beloved Llama is preparing for Christmas. As with most young children, he gets impatient and overwhelmed by the holiday season. After he calms down, also like most children, he has a lovely holiday.

6. You Are My Miracle by Maryann K. Love
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Written by the same author as YOU ARE MY I LOVE YOU, this is a similar book that celebrates the simple bonds between a parent and a child.

7. Who Is Coming to Our House? By Joseph Slate
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“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.

8. It’s Christmas, David! By David Shannon
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David Shannon appears to understand the toddler and preschooler sense of humor better than many. My toddlers find this hilarious.

9. Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day
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I love wordless books to start conversations and story telling with toddlers. Alexandra Day is a master with her Carl series. Follow this silly, lovable dog and the baby left in his charge on a Christmas Eve adventure.

10. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore Illustrated by Charles Santore
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Board book version of the classic night before Christmas poem. Award winning illustrator Santore captures the poem in brilliant fashion.

11. The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry
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A scratch and sniff book that I read every Christmas as a child. Follow Little Bear as he bakes cookies, hangs candy canes, and finds the perfect tree. Fun book  about the scents of Christmas approaching.

12. Little Rabbit’s Christmas by Harry Horse
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Such a sweet story about a little rabbit who desperately wants a red sled for Christmas. He gets his wish, but then refuses to share his new gift with anyone. When disaster strikes and his sled is broken, it is his friends who share their gifts with him. Timeless message about sharing and a look at the real meaning of Christmas. 2+

13. Christmas Mouseling by Dori Chaconas
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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.

14. The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
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This is a favorite Christmas book every 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.

15. 1001 Things to Spot at Christmas by Usborne Books
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If look and find books are popular in your kids, I highly recomment this Christmas book and this series from Usborne in general. Bright, playful illustrations full of elves, pixies, and festive fun. There is so much to study, find, and enjoy on these pages.

16. Merry Christmas, BIG HUNGRY BEAR! By Don and Audrey Wood
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We adore Audrey and Don Wood’s The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. It is one of my favorite read alouds of all time. This is a sweet adaptation for Christmas. The Little Mouse hears that the Big Hungry Bear likes Christmas presents and starts to guard his gifts. Then he learns that the Bear does not get gifts of his own. What he does with this information is wonderful and heart warming.

17. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin
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We love Pete the Cat. They are ridiculous and groovy and musical books. In the Christmas edition, Pete the Cat saves Christmas when Santa is ill and Christmas is in danger of being captured. (Free Song for Download Included)


18. Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes
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I adore all things Shirley Hughes and especially the darling and warm stories about Alfie. Follow this favorite character as he and his family prepare for the holidays. Full of relatable events and warm illustrations of a Christmas at home, this is a new favorite.

16 Christmas Books for Preschoolers and Up

1. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore and Holly Hobbie
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This is my new favorite version of this beloved story. The words are familiar, but paired with dreamlike illustrations. Our favorite part is that a little baby is also awakened by Santa appearing and follows his daddy downstairs.

2. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
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A classic and probably my favorite story for capturing the magic of Christmas. Breathtaking illustrations and delicious words.

3. An Otis Christmas by Loren Long
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The Otis books are growing into a warm and lasting series. Personally I get excited each time I find a new one. An Otis Christmas is filled with the birth of a new foal, Otis’ first ever Christmas present, and a medical emergency.

4. A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker
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Bear and Mouse are hopefully familiar characters in your house. We love this series. The books are all full of gentle humor and wonderful lessons in friendship. This one has those with a Christmas twist. My favorite part of these are the expressively illustrated characters.

5. I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Holly Hobbie
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We originally shared this book as part of our Holiday Travel Booklist guest post. We adore Toot and Puddle. These humorous books about two piggie friends tackle a wide range of issues in sweet ways perfect for little ones. In this tale, Puddle is cuddled up at home while Toot is off having adventures. Toot promises to be home for the holidays and despite cancelled flights and snowdrifts, he finds a way to be with his friend. This addresses many of the common winter travel troubles in a child friendly way paired with cozy, softly lit illustrations. 3+

6. Wombat Divine by Mem Fox
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Set in Australia, this is not your traditional northern hemisphere Christmas book. The animals are native to Australia and completely unique. The setting is a sunny, warm, and dusty. It is however delightful and full of Christmas spirit. 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.

7. Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
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This book tells the classic story of the Nutcracker with beautiful paintings. I bought this one to add to our Christmas book collection after we fell in love with it during our Nutcracker Unit.

8. Tallulah’s Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer
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Tallulah gets to be in real professional ballet production of the Nutcracker! She’s excited, even though she is only a mouse. Tallulah practices hard and feels ready for the big night. On opening night, disaster strikes and Tallulah learns that being a real ballerina isn’t being perfect, it’s getting back up when you fall.

9. Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
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This is part of the My First Little House Books series which is a great way to introduce little ones to this beloved series of books. I love the sweet, simple way this family celebrates the holidays together.

10. Ninja Claus! by Arree Chung
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In this ninja adventure, Maxwell the little ninja is determined to use his skills to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus. Unfortunately for him Santa has some ninja skills of his own. If you love the other ninja books like my twins do this one does not disappoint.

11. Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird
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My daughter took a real liking to Angelina when she was 4, so when I discovered this I knew it needed to go on our list. Angelina Ballerina spreads some Christmas cheer to a lonely retired mailman in this sweet Christmas story. It is a sweet story about the Christmas spirit, but my favorite part is the illustrations. Helen Craig has beautifully captured the warmth of the season. The snow flecked town with lights warming the houses or the family gathered around a warm table to make cookies are careful reflections of the light that Christmas exudes.

12. 12 Days of Christmas by Rachel Isadora
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A beautiful version of this classic song set in Africa. Unique and interesting. Much like the THIS IS A TREE song, Isadora depicts a unique and interesting version with rebus style pictures for young readers to help follow along. Our kids want to read it again and again.

13. I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo
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My toddlers are addicted to the I Spy books so I’m pretty thrilled to share a Christmas version with them. Christmas themed photos full of treasures to explore.

14. Georgie the Gingerbread Fairy by Lara Ede and Tim Bugbird
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This book was recommended to me when we did the 10 Days of Kid-Made Ornaments Inspired by Books series last December. Our twins were deep in their fairy obsession, so I immediately added this to our to-read list. It is a fun book about a fairy who runs a gingerbread store until another fairy shows up with a glittery plastic store. The message in the end is that both can have value and more old fashioned ideas, like gingerbread, need not be replaced entirely. As a girl who likes her old fashioned, simple Christmas I loved the fairy infused message.

15. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
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Classic Christmas book and movie, this is likely in most Christmas book piles. The Grinch is taught a lesson by Cindy Lou and the Whos in Whoville about the true meaning of Christmas.

16. The Last Christmas Tree by Stephen Krensky
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A Christmas tree lot is bursting with trees but none are more excited about the season than a tiny, pathetic tree. Days go by and no one notices the tree. Christmas Eve it is deserted and alone until suddenly it is picked and placed in a sled. Beautifully illustrated and full of Christmas spirit. 3+

10 Christmas Books for Kindergarten and Up

1. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlbers and Janet Ahlberg
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The jolly postman is busy following his route through fairy tales to deliver holiday cards and messages. I have a vivid memory of my third grade teacher reading this aloud to our class so it’s safe to say I feel in love with this one a long time ago. Our twins love taking out the little cards and notes and finding characters they recognize.

2. The Christmas Giant by Steve Light
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Steve Light is one of those authors that can’t seem to do wrong in my book. In this lovely tale, the giant and elf that are in charge of creating Christmas wrapping paper (apparently that’s a job) are down because their job for the year is done. Santa decides to put them in charge of growing the holiday tree for Christmastown which turns out to be a complicated and sometimes hazardous job.

3. The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel
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This book tells the story of the first tree in Rockefeller Center. It is a beautiful story about hope and Christmas that I discovered a few years ago. I shared it with our kids for the first time after their first New York adventure and it inspired our Kid-Made Ornament one year.

4. The Beautiful Christmas Tree by Charlotte Zolotow
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This is a book from my Christmases as a child. It is a little long for younger toddlers, but for older ones it is a beautiful message about the basic goodness of people. It follows Mr. Crockett who rescues a scrawny, Charlie Brown-esque tree and patiently nurtures into a beautiful, vibrant pine.

5. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
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Jan Brett has an interesting take on Santa’s reindeer. In her tale, it is Little Teeka’s job to get the reindeers ready for Santa’s important night. Clever and beautifully illustrated.

6. The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell
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A wonderful gift about gift giving. Mooch the cat is attempting to figure out what to give his friend Earl the dog who has everything.

8. The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda
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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.

9. An Ellis Island Christmas by Maxinne Rhea Leighton
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A little girl travels across the ocean with her mom and siblings to join their father in America in this richly told Christmas tale. The story is primarily about immigration, but there is a Christmas flavor to it especially at the end. I added this one to our collection after we took our first graders to Ellis Island while we were living in New York City. It is a beautifully told and illustrated story about immigration that would be lovely any time of the year, but I love the diversity and history it adds to our Christmas collection.

10. A World of Cookies for Santa by M. E. Furman
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My twins love books that give them glimpses of other cultures. This new Christmas book was released in October 2017 and it takes you around the world. It has tons of interesting information about different Christmas traditions, yummy sounding cookie recipes and illustrations that make me want to cuddle up by the Christmas tree lights.

 Ultimate Guide to Christmas Picture Books for All Ages

 Don’t Forget Your Printable List!

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