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Several Christmases ago I really wanted to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I wanted to spend a lot of time with my young children, building memories and doing meaningful things with them. I thought about what we could do and was inspired to read Christ-centered Christmas books with them.
I wanted to organize it like an advent calendar, so I searched for 25 books to wrap up under our tree, one for each day of December, to count down to Christmas.
I found a collection of inspirational Christmas stories:
The Little Matchgirl by Hans Christian Andersen, The Christmas Gift, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Little Piccola by Nora A. Smith, The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke, The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Boy With the Box By Mary Griggs Van Voorhis, The Fir-Tree by Hans Christian Andersen, Little Gretchen and the Wooden Shoe by Elizabeth Harrison, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Lucy Wheelock, Merry Christmas From the Pearces, and others that I can’t find online.
I also found several beautiful, Christ-centered Christmas books for our little advent. Most of them center around the nativity itself, although some focus more on the Christlike love and the spirit of Christmas.
Each day in December we unwrapped and read one book or story together. Since then, I’ve found other Christmas books that we have fallen in love with, too. I’m sharing them all with you below.
We no longer wrap the books, but I do round them up and keep them on a special shelf every December, along with a binder of the inspirations Christmas stories I’ve collected. We maintain the tradition of reading them all aloud every year.
Our Favorite Christmas Books for Children:
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
After Christmas dinner, Grandpa tells Thomas and Nora about his unforgettable Christmas Eve as a young soldier back in 1914, when German and Allied soldiers stopped fighting and came together to celebrate the holiday. They sang Christmas carols, shared small gifts, and played music and soccer in No Man’s Land. But as dawn broke, they returned to their separate trenches, waiting for the bombs, battles, and killing to begin again. This sad, historical Christmas book shows us some of the miracles that Christmas brings.
Grandfather’s Christmas Tree by Keith Strand
Beginning their life together in the Colorado wilderness, a young rancher and his wife work hard, and joyfully anticipate the birth of their first child. Their many hopes and dreams for their new family are suddenly put in danger when a merciless winter storm hits. The logs in the woodpile quickly dwindle, and soon their only chance for survival is to cut down the lone remaining spruce tree, which provides warmth and shelter to a family of geese–a family not unlike their own. On Christmas Eve the couple prays for a miracle that will protect them and their newborn son. This is such a lovely Christmas Picture Book.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle. This is one of the best Christmas books for children.
***Be sure to check out our fun, easy storytime crafts, activities, and snack ideas for ‘The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey’. Storytime: The Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck
On a quiet but wondrous Christmas Eve, the nativity story comes to life, and families everywhere celebrate the miracle of Christmas. These delightful Christmas books will help your children to understand and appreciate the miracle of Christmas.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
This touching story about a kind ox who makes room for every creature smaller than himself is all about Christlike love. Each animal, in turn, is gracious to the smaller animal who comes in. Eventually, they make room for the donkey, who is carrying Mary. Jesus is born amid these gentle animals.
Through the Animal’s Eyes: A Story Of the First Christmas by Christopher Wormell
From dogs watching over the shepherds’ flocks when angels appear, to a charmed cobra performing in Herod’s court as the king tries to deceive the wise men, Wormell’s trademark animal imagery brings a new perspective to the story of the first Christmas.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
In this timeless bestseller, readers experience the tender love God has for those who feel alone and different. Joshua was a lamb with a crippled leg who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play like the other lambs. But God had a very special plan for Joshua’s life, as He does for all who feel alone. Readers can expect a gentle tug on their hearts as the little lamb’s prayers are answered in an amazing way.
***Be sure to check out our fun, easy storytime crafts, activities, and snack ideas for ‘The Crippled Lamb’. Storytime: The Crippled Lamb.
Itsy Bitsy Christmas by Max Lucado
Do you ever feel like you are too small or too ordinary? That is just how Itsy and Bitsy feel. When these two charming little mice hear that a King is coming to Bethlehem, they set off with great enthusiasm to find Him. Along the way, they are met with discouraging words telling them they are too little and unimportant for any king. Just when Itsy and Bitsy begin to believe that they really aren’t big enough for the new King, they learn that Christ the King has indeed come for everyone. Your kiddos will love these beautiful Christmas books from Max Lucado.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
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.
The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel
The Carpenter’s Gift tells the story of eight-year-old Henry and his father selling Christmas trees. They give a Christmas tree to construction workers building Rockefeller Center and celebrate together. Through the kindness of the construction workers and neighbors, Henry gets his wish for a nice, warm home to replace his family’s drafty shack. He plants a pinecone from that first Rockefeller Center Tree. As an old man, Henry repays the gift by donating the enormous tree that has grown from that pinecone to become a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. After bringing joy to thousands as the Rockefeller Center tree, its wood will be used to build a home for another family in need.
***Be sure to check out our fun, easy storytime crafts, activities, and snack ideas for ‘The Carpenter’s Gift’. Storytime: The Carpenter’s Gift.
Lucy’s Christmas by Donald Wells
Lucy Wells likes planning ahead. In her quaint New England town the leaves have just begun to change, but Lucy is already thinking of Christmas. She begins to make presents for her family: a pincushion for Mother, a doll for her sister, and a pen-wiper for her best friend. For the whole family, her parents have ordered a new modern range stove. The days grow colder and shorter, the snow grows deeper, and everyone grows more excited. Finally, the day arrives! Lucy and her family travel to the South Danbury Church to exchange gifts, sing carols with the whole town, and perform in the Christmas pageant.
Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Long ago, a little girl named Laura Ingalls lived in a little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters, Mary and Carrie, and their good old bulldog, Jack. Winter was just around the corner, and Laura worked hard to help make the little house ready for the cold days ahead. Soon there was frost on the windows and snow on the ground, but Laura and her folks were warm and cozy in their snug little house in the Big Woods.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is a gorgeously crafted tale steeped in the culture of Appalachia and the magic of Christmas. The story in this beautiful Christmas book embodies the spirit of love, the sacrifices we make as mothers and fathers, and the hard-won life of homesteaders during the Great War.
***Be sure to check out our fun, easy storytime crafts, activities, and snack ideas for ‘The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree’. Storytime: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.
The Story of Christmas by Pamela Dalton
Deeply reverent, richly detailed with intricate, scissor-cut illustrations, and teeming with life, Dalton’s images follow the story of the Nativity from the appearance of the Angel, to the shepherds who came from the fields, and to the three wise men who followed the star to pay respect for their new king. Working in a Pennsylvania-German folk-art tradition, rich with lovingly rendered animals and figures, Pamela Dalton has created a book that takes a deserved place among the finest celebrations of Christmas.
One Wintry Night by Ruth Graham Bell
One of the classic Christmas books, One Wintry Night tells the story of a mountain boy who is injured in a snowstorm and seeks refuge in a cabin. While he waits out the storm, the woman who lives there tells him the Christmas story. In a magnificent blend of a contemporary setting with the history of God’s redeeming love, Ruth Graham created a wonderful and unique version of the Christmas story. This Christmas book has lovely illustrations.
Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd
When Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals, encounters a donkey who is unhappy with his lot in life, Francis tells him a story that heals. True, long ago God punished the mischievous animal by giving him long ears, a loud bray, and heavy burdens to bear. Yet God gave the donkey something wonderful, too. For who was it that carried Mary to Bethlehem across rugged mountains and burning desert sand? And in the stable, who warmed the Baby Jesus with his breath? Whose love and devotion on the trip from Nazareth outshone even the gifts of the wise men?
Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Mackall
It was not such a silent night when Baby Jesus was born. From the baa, baa, baaof sheep to the flut-flut-flutter of angel wings, it was actually quite noisy! Learn all about the Christmas story in these Christ-centered Christmas books.
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer
We’ve all heard the story of the three wise men who brought their gifts to Baby Jesus. But what about the camels who carried them? Here is the story of Humphrey the camel and his long, cold journey to Bethlehem. Humphrey has lost his blanket and schemes to acquire a new one. When the party reaches its destination, Humphrey is so drawn to the love surrounding Baby Jesus that he finds himself selflessly giving his new blanket to the Christ child.
The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Keats
A procession travels to Bethlehem, bringing gifts for the newborn baby Jesus. The little drummer boy comes along, although he is too poor to bring a present fit for a king. Instead, he plays a song on his drum for the Christ Child. Within the little drummer boy’s seemingly simple gift lies the true spirit of Christmas.
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Bergren
As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder… “Who invented Christmas?” Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance in these delightful Christmas books, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that…Jesus is the best present of all.
Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary’s Christmas Gift by Jeannine Norris
The miracle of Christmas began with a mother holding her child, filled with boundless love. Now the warmth and spirit of the first Christmas come alive in this Nativity retelling, perfect for mothers to share with their own little ones. These Christmas books are a must in every home.
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton
Wondrous things are happening in the stable. The animals are gathering. Shepherds and wise men and angels are coming from afar. All of them are flocking to see the Christ child, born this night in Bethlehem. This is one of the very best Christmas books.
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
One dark November night a stranger rides into a small prairie town. Who is he? Why has he come? The townspeople wish he were a doctor, a dressmaker, or a trader. But the children have the greatest wish of all, a deep, quiet, secret wish. Then a young girl named Lucy befriends the newcomer. When he reveals his identity and shares with her the legend of the candy cane, she discovers fulfillment of her wishes and the answer to her town’s dreams. Now, will she share what she has learned?
Uncle Vova’s Tree by Patricia Polacco
Christmastime is special at Uncle Vova’s house. Laughing and singing, he dances, takes the children on a sleigh ride, and gathers them to trim the tree that he and Svetlana planted when they first came to America. But when Vova is gone, to the surprise of everyone, the miracle of his tree and the memories only grow.
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
The Stowell family is abuzz with holiday excitement, and Frankie, the youngest boy, is the most excited of all. But there’s a cloud over the joyous season: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Pa hasn’t returned yet from his trip to Lansing. He promised to bring back the oranges for the mantelpiece. Every year there are nine of them nestled among the evergreens, one for each of the children. But this year, heavy snows might mean no oranges . . . and, worse, no Pa!
Marta and the Manger Straw by Virginia Kroll
In World War II Poland, a young girl receives straw at the Christmas Eve service to bring to her impoverished family. But on her way home, Marta meets others who are much poorer than she, and she shares her piece until there is nothing left. In spite of the lack of straw–though perhaps because of her generous heart—Marta finds riches she never expected in this tender Christmas book about giving.
***Be sure to check out our fun, easy storytime crafts, activities, and snack ideas for ‘Marta and the Manger Straw’. Storytime: Marta and the Manger Straw.
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
This beautifully illustrated edition shares the story of a young girl who attempts to sell her last bundle of matches on Christmas Eve. As the snow falls and the crowds pass her by, she strikes one of her matches, hoping for a little warmth. In its flame, she sees a vision of a roaring fire in a hot stove. The match goes out, taking the vision with it. A second match conjures a vision of a vast dining room complete with a feast fit for a king. The third match reveals a towering Christmas tree. With only a few matches left, she strikes them all and sees a vision of her beloved grandmother. Only this time, it is more than a vision as the spirit of grandmother takes the little match girl with her into heaven. This is a sad, but very tender Christmas book for children.
Be sure to check out my other Christmas Storytime selections, each with fun (and easy!) crafts, activities and snacks!
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Please share your favorite Christmas books in the comments below!