Thirty-One Favorite Christmas Picture Books

I have a thing about Christmas picture books — we have tons of them!

I typically set them out a day or two after Thanksgiving ~ usually in a big basket on the floor. Today, I’m sharing thirty-one of our favorite Christmas picture books.

Here we go!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss— This one is a classic and usually the first Christmas book we read each year.

The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer—This one has a lot of nostalgia for me, because I remember having an old version of it in the house as a child. Happily,it’s still in print!

Night Tree by Eve Bunting— I adore the bright, woodsy art in this picture book. It’s a charming story about a family who decorates a Christmas tree each year for the forest animals. It’s a little oasis of calm in the middle of their busy season!

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson— This is one of those books I can quote from heart because we read it so much when the kids were younger. Bear is ready to hibernate — can he stay awake long enough to celebrate Christmas?

The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel— The subtitle is A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree. It follows the story of a boy who receives the gift of a warm home one Christmas — and how he gives a similar gift to a needy family when he is an elderly man.

Jingle Bells by Kathleen Daly— Another classic from my childhood reprinted! A rollicking, overstuffed sleigh ride that ends up filling a very important role when Santa’s reindeer catch colds!


The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola — A very special story about how one family prepares for Christmas during a difficult time, and how the poinsettia came out of all their troubles.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard andTanya Simon — This is a new-to-us book this year (thank you Family Reading Crate!). It’s takes place on the seventh night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve 1938 and shows how tiny acts of kindness can make anyone feel welcome — especially a child in a strange, bustling, city.

Berenstain Bears Save Christmas by Jan and Stan Berenstain — This is my all-time favorite Berenstain Bear’s book because of it’s lovely, gentle rhyme, it’s heartwarming message, and the bright, colorful illustrations.

Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear — Brother and Sister are ready for Christmas, but their lists are more than a bit too long and they need a little help finding the true meaning of Christmas. Our copy is absolutely worn to shreds — it’s a classic!

The Cat Who Climbed the Christmas Tree — This one is, sadly, out of print, but it’s worth checking your library for, especially if you’ve got a cat-lover at home! It’s interesting to think about what that little cat might get up to when the family is tucked in bed!

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren—This is not strictly a Christmas book, but we keep it and the book below with our Christmas picture books because they are winter-themed and so fun to read. The Tomten is a legendary creature who guards the farm at night. Lovely illustrations and a wonderful message (winters come and winters go).

The Tomten and the Fox —The fox is hungry — can the Tomten continue to protect the farm and all of its creatures?

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg— If you have only seen the movie, it’s well-worth getting the book as well ~ I remember, when we got our copy, that I was absolutely amazed at how faithfully the movie brought the illustrations in the book to life!

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Mary Engelbreigt — This is one of my favorite picture book versions of the classic story. The illustrations are absolutely jam-packed with fun, colorful details ~ we have been reading this one on Christmas Eve for years!

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston—This is one of those books with such a perfect ending that it makes me tear up every time. It’s Ruthie’s family’s turn to provide the Christmas tree for their tiny Appalachian church, but her Dad is away fighting in the war.

Froggy’s Best Christmas by Jonathan London— My kids loved all the Froggy books when they were younger and many of them are practically worn to shreds. This one is no different. Froggy isn’t usually awake at Christmastime — but his friends are determined to introduce him to the holiday anyway!

Spot’s First Christmas by Eric Hill— My toddlers loved on this book so hard that only a couple of flaps remain, but it has an honored spot on our shelf. An ideal first Christmas book — especially if you can get the board book version!

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett— I adore the Jan Brett books at Christmastime, even when they aren’t strictly Christmas-related because the illustrations have such a homey, holiday feel about them. This title is a fun twist on the story of the Gingerbread Man.


The Berenstain Bears Trim the Tree by Jan and Mike Berenstain — It’s A Berenstain Bears lift-the-flap book! What’s not to love!?

The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry—We are on our third copy of this book because my kids scratched and sniffed all the smells a bit too much! This book is an absolute blast from the past for me and on my absolutely-must-read-each-season list. I will say though, that the scratch and sniff stickers on the newer books don’t last nearly as well as I remember my old childhood copy lasting.

Christmas Trolls —This was my younger daughter’s favorite Christmas book the year I purchased it. Like all of Jan Brett’s books, a child can spend hours pouring over all the intricate illustrations. The story, about a pair of greedy Christmas trolls, is fun too!


A Pussy Cat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown —If you have a cat (or a cat lover) at home, this book is a must! Cats can get into plenty of mischief at Christmas, but they have their own special ways of enjoying the season. It is a simple, sweet story, beautifully told. The illustrations are delightful too!

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish —This one is so much fun, especially for kids old enough to understand the humor. In typical Amelia Bedelia fashion, one Christmas task after another —from decorating the tree to stuffing the stockings — takes on a new, unintended meaning!

The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes and illustrated by Tasha Tudor —I’m a Tasha Tudor fan, so I had to have this one. If I were choosing favorites, it would be in my top five. It’s about a tiny little cat alone in the woods on Christmas, and a very special stranger who takes care of her. Magical!


The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown — This is a very sweet tale about a little fir tree who longs for something special and a little boy who grows strong right along with “his” tree. Very sweet!

Christmastime is Here by Lori Froeb—This is another ideal “first Christmas book” —it’s a lift-the-flap board book centered around the Little People and their holiday celebration (and their search for a missing Santa).

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rick Bunsen — I think the television special will always have the top place in our heart, but it’s fun to have the storybook version to dream over as well!

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett — This is my youngest child’s all-time favorite Jan Brett Christmas story. Teeka has to get the wild reindeer ready for Christmas — can she wrangle them in time?

The Shepherd Boy by Kim Lewis — My kiddos were big fans of all of Kim Lewis’s beautifully illustrated picture books when they were younger. This lovely, gentle story about a special Christmas wish was no exception!

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe — This is another Christmas book that makes me tear up when I read it! A Christmas tree that has never been chosen has grown too tall for anyone’s house. Will it ever get its special wish?

If you have a favorite I haven’t mentioned, please share with me in the comments — I’m always looking for a new Christmas book to add to our collection!

I’m planning another post soon with Christmas books for older readers. Stay tuned, and thanks so much for stopping by!

2 thoughts to “Thirty-One Favorite Christmas Picture Books”

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I have never heard of that one, but I think it would be perfect because we ALWAYS get a tree that is too tall!

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