Do you love Christmas stories as much as I do? What is it about a story? It’s a feeling, an image you can return to, year after year, when you’re little and when you’re grown. A picture book is a place to connect with the ones you love, to dream about years past or years to come. A story is a seed, planted in your heart. It’s joy.
There are so many wonderful picture books for Christmastime, it was hard for me to narrow my favorites down for a list! But, there’s always next year to share more. Have any favorites? Tell me in the comments! 🙂
Ten (or so) Favorite Christmas Stories
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 is here and Mr. Willowby’s tree has arrived! There’s just one big problem . . . the tree is too tall to fit in his parlor. He cuts off the top so it will fit, but little does he know that the top of that tree will travel clear across the countryside, bringing holiday cheer to the homes of bears, rabbits, mice, and more!
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 acclaimed author of nearly a hundred books for children and adults, Pearl S. Buck captures the spirit of Christmas in this elegant, heartening story about a boy’s gift of love. Originally published in 1955, this timeless story with glorious full-color art by Mark Buehner will be a welcome addition to your holiday collection.
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? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney’s luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.
Christmas in the Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown
Originally published in 1952, reillustrated in 2016 by the beloved Llama Llama creator, Anna Dewdney, Christmas in the Barn tells a childlike interpretation of the Nativity story.
“Brown’s tender, lyrical account of the Nativity has been reissued…with illustrations that expand the succinct text, giving a quiet sense of grandeur while at the same time making readers feel a part of the events. A lovely book for a new generation of readers,” says School Library Journal.
The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, illustrated by P.j. Lynch
“O. Henry’s classic tale of the wisest gifts of Christmas, brought to life by P.J. Lynch’s extraordinary art, is itself a gift to share and treasure.”
In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store. O. Henry paints a masterly portrait of unfaltering love, a haven from the harsh world outside. The poignancy of his story is captured in P.J. Lynch’s eloquent art, wherein every glance, every gesture, tells a subtle truth.
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 world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.
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 little bear, led by a glittering star, meets many others on his travels. His adventures, filled with acts of heroism and kindness and many small miracles, show him the path to the Christ Child. A beautiful book that teaches the true spirit of Christmas.
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! What will happen when Posy finds Pip lying on the sofa, feeling sick? Is it possible Pip might know what’s happened to all of the ornaments? A charming and funny new Pip and Posy story about honesty, with gentle lessons about friendship.
Oliver Elephant, by Lou Peacock and Helen Stephens
“A sweet, charming story of overcoming familiar difficulties during the hectic holiday season, with the help of those who love you.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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. They play peekaboo and hide in a dolls’ house, and Noah even dances Oliver across the displays. But just as Mom has checked off the last thing on her list, disaster strikes: Oliver is nowhere to be found! And the department store is VERY big. 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 and 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.
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!
Crockett Johnson’s Christmas adventure, with its clever and inventive twists, will delight little ones eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival.
Also available in board book, hardcover, and ebook editions.
And of course a couple of my books I know you’ll love…
Song of the Stars, by Sally Lloyd-Jones and 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!” On one quiet night, creation whispered a secret. Grass and bees, robins and trees all spread the word. Sheep told their young while angels sang the song to the shepherds. Hushed news of a miracle echoed to the ends of the earth. The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived! Creation cried out in celebration, but only a few people heard. Only a few joined nature’s chorus, a song in praise of the newborn King.
My Merry Christmas, by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sara Gianassi
What is Christmas?
Is it twinkling lights? Angels? Stars? This rhyming story by Sally Lloyd-Jones (the best-selling author of The Jesus Storybook Bible) helps children relate favorite holiday symbols to the true story of Christmas—the night Jesus was born.
Top image cred: cottonstem