25 Christmas Picture Books

Do you love Christmas stories as much as I do? I love a story, a feeling, an image you can return to, year after year, when you’re little and when you’re grown.

I recently saw a beautiful idea: giving children a Book Advent Calendar, where they unwrap a new book for each day of Advent (or for the 12 days of Christmas, or 3 days before…). (The blogger also gives suggestions for ways to make this more affordable — borrowing from the library, visiting second hand shops, and swapping with friends.)

So whether you’d like to start a Book Advent Calendar tradition or simply add a few new books to your collection, here are 25 Christmas Picture Books for you.

Little Tree by e.e. cummings

In a warm and touching poem, e.e. cummings describes the wonder and excitement of a young brother and sister who find a little tree on a city sidewalk and carry it home, where they adorn it with Christmas finery.

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

A classic picture book celebrating all the joy a Christmas tree can bring!

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

Rob wants to get his father something special for Christmas this year—something that shows how much he really loves him. But it’s Christmas Eve, and he doesn’t have much money to spend. What could he possibly get? Suddenly, Rob thinks of the best gift of all…

The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden

Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Originally published in 1952 and reillustrated in 2016 by the beloved Llama Llama creator, Anna Dewdney, Christmas in the Barn tells a childlike interpretation of the Nativity story.

The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

It’s the Depression, and Nella’s family is poor. Even so, she hopes that this year she and her two sisters will get a beautiful Baby Betty doll.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, illustrated by P.j. Lynch

As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, a couple realizes that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store.

The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

An illustrated version of the Christmas carol about the procession to Bethlehem and the offer of a poor boy to play his drum for the Christ Child. Music for the song appears in the back of the book. Stunning art by Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day.

Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne

Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the classic Christmas song. The full lyrics and facts about the carol are included.

Advent Storybook by Antonie Schneider

Benjamin Bear cannot wait for Christmas to come. To help the time pass more quickly, his mother tells him that every day when he opens a door on his Advent calendar, she’ll tell him a story about another little bear and his long, arduous journey to Bethlehem.

The Story of Christmas by Jane Ray

A retelling of the Christmas story from the gospels, adapted from the King James version.

Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree by Axel Scheffler

It’s Christmastime, and Pip and Posy are busy decorating the tree with gingerbread and a beautiful sugar star. But the decorations keep mysteriously disappearing from the tree until there are none left at all. . . . Oh, dear!

Oliver Elephant by Lou Peacock and Helen Stephens

When Noah goes Christmas shopping with his mom and baby sister, he’s glad to have his toy elephant, Oliver, along in the boring shops. But just as Mom has checked off the last thing on her list, disaster strikes: Oliver is nowhere to be found! Will retracing their steps be enough to reunite Noah and his beloved toy elephant?

The Queen and the First Christmas Tree: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Queen Charlotte brought her family’s festive holiday yule bough from Germany to England. While planning a Christmas Day party in 1800 at Windsor Castle for over 100 children, she realized a single bough isn’t enough. So she brought in the whole tree instead, making it the first known Christmas Tree in England. This story tells a little known fact about a favorite holiday tradition.

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuenao: flower of the Holy Night. This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s gift to the Christ Child.

Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson

Harold at the North Pole finds Harold in need of a Christmas tree and Santa in need of Harold’s help. It’s up to Harold to draw a pack of jolly reindeer to transport Santa, along with his big bag of toys, through the night and save Christmas!

The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger

A poetic retelling of the Christmas story from the perspective of a donkey. The gray donkey is so tired from his journey to Bethlehem, carrying a load on his back, that he begins to dream. His dreams are rich with meaning and vividly painted by Barbara Helen Herger.

Tree of Cranes by Allen Say

A young Japanese boy watches his mother make paper cranes and prepares to celebrate his very first Christmas.

Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Jane Manning

A charming story about the littlest of creatures experiencing the wonder of Christmas. Children and woodland animals are invited to Tante’s Christmas festivities, but the only ones left out are the spiders who were swept away with Christmas preparations. When they finally come inside to see the beautiful tree, they leave a gorgeous surprise: cobwebs which turn into stunning, sparkling tinsel.

Olive, The Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh, illustrated by J.otto Seibold

If you love hilarious dog adventures, Olive, The Other Reindeer doesn’t disappoint. After hearing a Christmas tune, Olive suddenly realizes she must be a reindeer — not a dog! — so she heads to the North Pole to help Santa and his reindeer team.

Christmas for 10 by Cathryn Falwell

A charming counting story that follows a family preparing for a festive Christmas celebration.

The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker by Katy Flint, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

The Nutcracker is a classic Christmas story, and this beautiful picture book brings it to life by playing music right in its pages.

And a few of my books I hope you’ll love…

The Jesus Storybook Bible: A Christmas Collection by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

An interactive story, sound, and song Advent experience for the whole family. It’s my first book that talks and sings! Press buttons throughout the book to hear narration by Sir David Suchet or Christmas carols; find readings, Scripture, and devotional thoughts for each day of Advent; learn the history behind your favorite carols, and more.

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Alison Jay

The skies shouted it to the seas that thundered it to the waves that roared it to the great white whales that sang it to the starfish in the deep. And tiny sandpipers danced it on shining sands… “It’s time! It’s time!”

My Merry Christmas by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Sara Gianassi

What is Christmas? Is it twinkling lights? Angels? Stars? This rhyming story helps children relate favorite holiday symbols to the true story of Christmas—the night Jesus was born.

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2 Responses to “25 Christmas Picture Books”

  1. Deborah

    Thanks for these recommendations, Sally! I’m loving the Spotify play list that goes with your Insider Advent kit. And looking forward to sharing your Song of the Stars book with my husband’s two grandchildren! Merry Christmas to you!

  2. Margaret B Kober

    The Last Straw by Fredrick
    Thury is a delightful story. It should be included.


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