Our Favorite Christmas Picture Books

by | Dec 4, 2013 | Advent, Catholic Mom Book Review, Christmas, December, Five Favorites, What We're Reading | 16 comments

Reading this post from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas and this post from Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda has made me realize that I really, really, really want our family to have 24 Advent/Christmas picture books that we love. Books that are pretty to look at and fun and/or edifying to read. Books that I will wrap up in pretty paper on a year when I don’t have a one week old baby.

But, we got our advent boxes down on Sunday, and I realized that we really DO NOT have twenty four books worth having. We have a bunch of Christmas and Advent books. Most of them the kids like, but some really drive me crazy, some are more commercial
than I’d like, and some just don’t make any sense. (Seriously, what is that book about? I don’t know.) We have read-aloud chapter books that I love, and I wrote about those here, but our picture book collection needs some work.

So, I’ve ordered some books that other bloggers have recommended to add to the little gifts St. Nicholas will leave in the kids’ shoes on December 6th, and when we pack up the Christmas boxes on January 6th, some of the books in our stash now aren’t going to make it back in there.

It’s not ALL bad though. I do love some of our picture books, and a few aren’t on the other lists I’ve seen on other blogs. So, here are our five favorites.

Haley raves about this one, and rightly so. The illustrations are lovely and the story has a haunting timelessness to it that seems perfect for Advent. It’s also a lovely way to introduce children to some of the beautiful titles traditionally given to Our Lady.
The Little Fir Tree

It’s by Margaret Wise Brown, of Goodnight Moon, so you know children are going to love the rhythm of the prose. But this book also has beautiful pictures and a charming story of a little boy who cannot come to the outdoors, so they bring the outdoors to him. Not a religious story, but still sweet.
The Miracle of St. Nicholas

I ordered this book thinking it would be a story about St. Nicholas. It isn’t. But we still really love it. It’s a very unique story of how the townspeople of a village in Russia preserved all of their Christmas traditions despite the threats of the communist regime, and how one little boy inspires them to bring them out into the open again.
: The Eternal Christmas Story
Good King Wenceslas is a favorite Christmas carol at our house, (especially the Bing Crosby version!) but I don’t like it when books are just an illustrated version of a song.
This book has really interesting, really beautiful illustrations and actually tells the story of the saintly king and his page.
My boys LOVE Richard Scarry books. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go is pretty must Frankie’s favorite thing in the world right now. All of Richard Scarry’s books have such a whimsy to them, without being smart alecky or sassy. The Night Before the Night Before Christmas is no exception. We follow Mr. Frumble as all of his best efforts to help people at Christmastime just end up making things worse. (Mr. Frumble was doing it before Jack Skellington made it cool!)
So . . . What books do YOU think I should add to our collection?


  1. Maria

    I just ordered and received in the mail Bambellini Sunday: a Christmas Blessing on the recommendation of another Catholic blog I read. We'll give it to the kids on Friday as a St. Nicholas day present. I can not wait to read it to my kids. The art work is beautiful! Another great one is Jacob's Gift by Max Lucado, my boys especially like it because the boy is training to be a carpenter. We also read daily, 24 Christmas stories to Welcome Jesus. The kids look forward to their father reading this at breakfast every morning. I'm sorry I don't have links for the books but I'm on my blog reader and can't figure out how to get the links to work.
    BTW, I just started reading your blog last week and I love it!

  2. Stefanie

    For Advent I am reading a Christmas book each night with my little that she unwraps after moving her little candy cane date marker on her Advent calendar. I checked them all out for the library (yay, free!) and so far we are loving 'Was That Christmas?' by Hilary McKay.

  3. Micaela Darr

    It's a really good thing that I already ordered (and received) our St. Nick books because after the WWRW link-up, I have a feeling my wish list is going to be twice as long and more difficult to choose from. So many good books out there!

  4. Kim

    Of all the advent/christmas ideas circulating in blogland, this is one that I do really like and actually feel capable of doing. Really, what better gift is there than reading a book to your children? Its 24 great little gifts from the heart. The other day I counted up our books too and like you realized that I do not have nearly enough. So I intend to buy some. But, I had the idea of just doing 12 for the 12 days of christmas but then thought , nahhh I"ll go ahead and get 24.

    But, of the titles we have here–and not all of them religious… some we have are,"The Polar Express", "Yes Virginia There is a Santa Clause", "The Three Snow Bears" by Jan Brett (not really chirstmas but pretty winter picture book)…Hallmark's "Jingle" one of those books that have a stuffed animal that talks along with the story (stupid– but the kids love it)….a charlie brown christmas book and a few board books about Jesus's birth. I think one is called "Twinkle Twinkle Christmas Star".

  5. Cristina

    I think I'm going to have to order the Richard Scarry Christmas book. To say that my middle son loves all things Richard Scarry would be a serious understatement–we did a Cars and Trucks and Things that Go birthday for him this year and he's still talking about it 🙂


    • Cristina

      Update! We got the book and it's a huge hit! I'm not sure if I should thank you or not though, since I've had to read it several times a day since it arrived and it's not nearly as funny to me now as it was the day it arrived–and if that was an affiliate link you.are.welcome. for your cut of that fifty cents–don't spend it all in one place 😉

  6. Charlotte (WaltzingM)

    If you really love St. Wenceslas, Stephen's Feast by Jean Richardson is a great one that tells the story, not just illustrates the song. Unfortunately, it's OOP and right now, used copies are insanely high. I suggest looking for it in the summer. And we have been slowly building up our collection since my oldest (15) first received a book from St. Nicholas. We still weed some out, if I buy them without reading first, sometimes they only last a season.

  7. Kate

    I had to raid our local library for Advent books to wrap up. I had no idea that we only had four Christmas books (which was fine because last year I think we read one the entire Advent!) I spotted the Richard Scarry book on the shelf and that was the first on my pile to take home. My boys are huge fans of Richard Scarry, and that book has kept my Thomas (3) "reading" quietly in his bed for an hour and a half each day during rest time.

    Another gem that the boys opened was "This is the Star" Joyce Dunbar and Gary Blythe. It is rather expensive for us to ship books here, and there is not much Catholic selection (I think only 5% of South Africa is Catholic!) so I have found the library a great place to start to decide on what books I would like to order. I find it so hard to order a book without reading the entire story and browsing the pictures.

  8. Christy from fountains of home

    Well fine then, don't like illustrated song books! Haha, I'm kinda a sucker for them and I don't even know why. Maybe because I just sing the words? Seriously, I'm around toddlers for too much time out of my day!

  9. Abby S.

    Some of our favorite Christmas books are by Tomie dePaola (especially The Clown of God, Night of Las Posadas and Legend of the Poinsettia, plus Three Wise Kings and Old Befana for Epiphany), but we also really love carols in beautiful picture book form (Little Drummer Boy by EJ Keats, 12 Days of Christmas by Don Daily, Silent Night by Susan Jeffers, and The Friendly Beasts, also by dePaola).

    We love The Children of Noisy Village, but there is also a cute picture book version of just the Christmas chapter, which I think is really worth having. Our favorite book for St. Nicholas Day is The Baker's Dozen by Aaron Shepard. And I think Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo, and The Other Wise Man, by Henry van Dyke, are very nice.

    It's nice to see other people's suggestions for good Christmas books. Happy reading!

  10. Abby S.

    And I thought I could let your comment about illustrated versions of carols slide, but I just can't. We love to sing and we love beautiful picture books and we love to curl up on the couch together, so these books are perfect for us. The older kids aren't as interested, but these books have been a great way to teach the little ones the words to carols, and I imagine when they grow up and sing these songs, they will still picture the beautiful illustrations. And you can even save them until after Christmas if you're really a stickler!

    • Lucy Rose

      That one is SO good! Beautiful pictures 🙂

  11. Anonymous

    I'd second all the books listed above by Tomie de Paola with the addition of Jingle, the Christmas Clown. It's out of print but probably at your library. It's one of his best!

  12. Housewifespice

    We just got Santa's Favorite Story from the library and I believe it is my new favorite. "No, no, no," said Santa in a kindly voice, "Christmas hasn't got anything to do with me. Sit down and I'll tell you all the story of the first Christmas." Bonus: Beautiful watercolor illustrations.


  1. St. Nicholas Catholic Book Stack - Catholic All Year - […] Our Favorite Christmas Picture Books […]

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