27 favorite Christmas picture books

Have you noticed yet that I have a deep love for illustrated children’s books? Whether we’re in a toy store, at the library, on Amazon or in a real bookstore, I am always drawn toward the picture book section. I love the sweet stories and am absolutely captured by the illustrations.

At Christmastime, we pull out our bins of ornaments and nutcrackers, wreaths and the nativity set and it always feels like a special surprise to rediscover our favorite Christmas books. I suppose we could keep them out all year, but it’s kind of fun to bring them out especially for this time of year.

If you are looking for a few new options to add to your Christmas book library, I’ve put together a list of my very favorite Christmas children’s books.

Some are classics, a few are brand new this year. Each one has a wintery feel and adorable illustrations (except one – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – but it made the list because it is a read-aloud favorite!)

So in no particular order, here are 27 Favorite Christmas Picture Books:

Jolly Christmas Postman

Room For A Little One

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

The Little Reindeer

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Toot & Puddle I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Not Enough Beds

Learning To Ski With Mr. Magee

The Night Before Christmas

Bear Stays Up For Christmas

It’s Christmas, David!

Red & Lulu

Madeline’s Christmas

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

Toot & Puddle Let It Snow

Who Is Coming To Our House

The Night Before Christmas

Olive, The Other Reindeer

Pick A Pine Tree

The Nutcracker

The Polar Express

The Crippled Lamb

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Snowmen At Christmas

Mice Skating


Do you have a favorite for Christmas that isn’t on my list? I’d love to hear!

P.S. For more picture book recommendations, here is my list of 48 must-have children’s books to add to your collection.

37 Responses to 27 favorite Christmas picture books

  1. Andrea December 21, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    Once There Was a Christmas Tree by Jerry Smath is our family favorite! It’s a sweet story with beautiful pictures. Love your list!!

  2. Cheryl December 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (my eyes well up every time I finish that one!) by Gloria Houston and The Reindeer Christmas by Moe Price.

  3. Ann December 17, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

    I agree with the librarian and add 2 more as well, Hey Mr. Angel by Christine Harder Tangvald, and
    The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan & Brian Floca (very touching short chapter book with pictures). Have a Merry Christmas !

    • Ann December 17, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

      Oh I almost forgot a beautiful one filled with photographs- The Little Book of Snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht. I have the 2004 book and see he has 2 others. I haven’t picked those up but the 2004 for I can vouch for and say it is simply a lovely book.

  4. Erin December 13, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    I just ordered three of these, thanks for the suggestions! I would highly recommend “Wake up Bear, it’s Christmas”… I promise you will not be disappointed. The watercolor illustrations are gorgeous.

  5. Stephanie Rawlins December 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm #

    Love the list! I also was reminded of old favorites and am eager to share them with my kids. Two additions I wholeheartedly recommend are The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown and The Crack of Dawn Walkers by Amy Hest.

  6. Suzanne December 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    My favorite Christmas book of all time is Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer. Humphrey is a camel, and the illustrations of him are not only beautiful but pack so much personality into this camel! It also has a beautiful story of the first ever Christmas. I just sent a copy to my sister’s family because I had to share this great book with someone 😊

  7. Amy December 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

    The message of this book is so wonderful. It’s witty, engaging and fun. I leave it out on the coffee table as a reminder for all of us during the Christmas season. Good for mid to late elementary ages, teens and adults!

  8. Kim December 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    Thanks for such a terrific list and thanks for the suggestions from those who left comments. I love that you included The Nutcracker with Maurice Sendak’s illustrations! And I understand why it is close to your heart. It is close to mine as well as my aunt, Larae Hacall, has been the costume shop manager for PNB for the past 30 years. She gifted that gorgeous book to me many years ago and it is always prominently displayed during the season.

  9. Jill December 4, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    Thanks Emily! Every year I order a bunch of Christmas books from the library and we read one each day in December until Christmas. There were some new ones on here I added to our list. One of my favorites as a child was “The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher” by Robert Kraus. It’s one my children request often too. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  10. BJ December 4, 2017 at 11:30 am #

    Christmas in Exeter Street and Cranberry Christmas are two of our favourites.

  11. Of Ashes & Bones December 4, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    My favorite was the nutracracker. this book list makes me feel nostalgic

  12. Austin December 3, 2017 at 8:22 am #

    Oh my goodness, the Jolly Christmas Postman is my favorite from childhood! I’d almost forgotten it until I saw it on your list. Definitely one I’ll purchase when we have kids.

  13. Allison December 2, 2017 at 10:33 pm #

    Hands down, my favorite christmas story for YEARS has been “the christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”- please if there is no other book you get this year- get this one and read it. it is such a wonderful story!

  14. Michelle S. December 2, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    “The Story of Holly and Ivy” by Rumer Godden and “Auntie Claus” by Elise Primavera are our must-reads every holiday season!

  15. Claudia, My Little Bungalow December 2, 2017 at 6:59 am #

    What a great list. The book entitled Mice Skating caught my eye. It looks so cute! At work, my department is “adopting” a family of 7 who recently moved to the U.S. from Africa. They have five daughters ranging in age from 2 to 12. They have very little (one queen bed that most of them sleep in, plus two couches for two of the girls, very little winter clothing, etc.). I think I will buy the children some books, and will look for some of your recommendations to include. Thank you!

  16. Janice Fassetta December 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

    Why Christmas Trees Aren”t Perfect

  17. Karen J. December 1, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

    I agree with Cindy B–those are both on my favorites list. Also, Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco is a very touching story.

  18. Kate December 1, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

    Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray and Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble are also wonderful!

  19. Barbara Ann December 1, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    I’d better stack up my collection and compare my children’s Christmas books to yours! I say that they’re for my grandchildren, but I just love the books, too!

  20. Sandi Dexter December 1, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

    Love your list of Christmas books! One that is often hard to find is “Star Mother’s Youngest Child” by Louise Moeri, and beautifully illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Every Christmas Eve, my husband would sit the children down on the couch to read the story of the birth of the babe from the bible and a Christmas storybook before they went to bed. Star Mother was one that was loved well into adulthood by our children and as our grandchildren have gotten older, it’s now read to them as well.

  21. Our Learning December 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree!

  22. Donna December 1, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    Hello there – As a mom & a second grade teacher I also love collecting holiday books. I have quite the collection of Jan Brett books – Christmas Trolls and the Christmas Reindeer are great books. I also love reading Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas tree every year to my class. I bet you would love it too! Merry Christmas !

  23. Vicki December 1, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Thank you for this! I have great grand nephews who need Christmas gifts from their aunt. I love to give books, especially for Christmas because books were always among my most favorite gifts. Some of these sound really perfect.

  24. Candy December 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    “One Wintry Night” written by Ruth Bell Graham, illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson – This is a story both children and adults love. It is a story about God’s redeeming love with a unique version of the Christmas story. The illustrations are beautiful!

  25. Maya December 1, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for this, Emily! It’s a great help as I was just trying to come up with gifts for my little nieces and nephews.

    I also love The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. My other favorite is the now apparently out of print Mousehole Cat. The Donkey’s Dream is (unlike me) more religious, but as a kid I adored the luminous illustrations by Barbara Helen Berger (Grandfather Twilight, Gwinna.)

  26. Ginny December 1, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and The Night Tree.

  27. Heather M. in AL December 1, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    As a librarian, I have two for your list. :)

    Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck: http://a.co/3H7iBrK

    The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski: http://a.co/0mSo5gy

    Merry Christmas to y’all!

  28. Eleanor December 1, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham

  29. Michelle W December 1, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    I purchased these two books for my daughters last year for Christmas.
    “The Story of the Snowflake and Inkdrop” by Pierdomenico Baccalario it’s such an original story.
    “Snow Bunny’s Christmas Gift” by Rebecca Harry the pages sparkle (I bet Audrey would love it) and it’s such a sweet story.
    Thanks for sharing your favorites.

    Merry Christmas!

  30. Julie December 1, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    Two more that I loved reading with my littles – Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear and Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree :)

  31. Ella December 1, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    A Christmas tradition I have with my children is getting them both a Christmas book each year for Christmas. They are young so I have so many new memories with them each year. So now what I do is before I pack up the Christmas books with the Christmas decorations, I sit down and write memories of them for that Christmas in the book I gave them (wherever I can find room to write!): It’s like a little journal of that child’s Christmas: What Santa brought them, their favorite Christmas song that year, their favorite Christmas gift, where we went to celebrate Christmas, etc. It’s been fun to read about the memories and enjoy our favorite Christmas books during the holiday season.

    I try to do this for every holiday, but nobody’s perfect. I look forward to when they grow up passing on all their books with memories included!

  32. susan b December 1, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    “The Sweet Smell of Christmas” by Patricia M. Scarry… It has the added benefit of being a scratch and sniff. I remember reading it to my little brother and my three kids. Time to order another new one for the grandsons…as the “scratchers” are worn out!

  33. Jennifer H December 1, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree has always been a favorite in our home!

  34. Christy December 1, 2017 at 9:59 am #

    Olivia helps with Christmas! So good!

  35. Libby December 1, 2017 at 7:16 am #

    Emily, you totally could write and illustrate a children’s book! Have you thought about that before? I’d buy it! This is a lovely selection. I have long collected children’s Christmas books too. Even though all my children are grown!

  36. Cindy B December 1, 2017 at 6:37 am #

    I think you will love “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”. Also, especially considering your road trip and today’s socio-political climate, “The Christmas Menorahs” is so relevant!

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