Tis the season to read holiday books while snuggled up on the sofa. Here’s a list of our top family favorites — and a few new-to-us titles too.
Some of these books are good for older readers (even grown ups) and some for the littlest listeners. Some are religious and sentimental, others are completely secular. But altogether, I think they make a really good collection.
For each title, I’m including links to Bookshop.org — it’s an online option that supports local independent bookstores. I’ll also include an Amazon link for each title, because I know some of you have credit there you’d like to use.
A great book-related idea: My sister-in-law Erin wraps up 25 Christmas books and uses them as an advent calendar — her kids unwrap one each day and read it as a family. (If you don’t have 25 Christmas books, you could start with what you have and borrow some from the library.)
You’ll notice this list is focused on Christmas books — because that’s the holiday my family celebrates, and it’s the one I know best. But obviously, there are lots of winter holidays that are celebrated across the world, so if you have recommendations for non-Christmas holiday books, I’d love to learn about them. Feel free to add links or titles in the comments.
Design Mom’s Favorite Christmas Books, in no particular order:
The Secret Society of Saint Nicholas
New this year! This book came to be when the author was remarrying and combining two families — one family believed in Santa Claus, the other did not. “This is a story for kids (and their parents) who are heartbroken by certain terrible information about Santa Claus. Think there’s no more magic in the world? Oh, the truth is much more interesting. It’s time to embrace a deeper magic.”
A Christmas Carol
All those Scrooge movies your kids have watched? (I’m looking at you, Muppets!) This is where it all comes from. If you have young kids, and you think the original might be too hard for them to understand, look for an adaptation for young readers, or you can also try an illustrated edition. The other fun thing about A Christmas Carol is that there are tons of pretty gift editions out there to choose from — with fancy covers, or gilded edges.
This is an Eric Carle book made for very young children, but we still read it every year because it’s just so sweet and magical — the little button at the end is pure twinkly genius. Get the hardcover, not the boardbook!
The Gift of the Magi
A story of a young and foolish but loving couple who just want to give each other the best Christmas gifts ever. This is another old story, so there are tons of gift versions available.
Twas The Night Before Christmas
There are lots of versions of this story so you can look around for one that suits you. In my opinion, the best ones have vintage drawings. This one was illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith who is one of my very favorite children’s book illustrators.
That’s the list! I first published this post in 2011, and try to update it regularly.
One thing to note: I didn’t include much in the way of “character books” like Eloise at Christmastime or Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Ever or Peppa Pig’s Christmas Wish, even though some are really good, because there are literally dozens and dozens. But if your kids have a favorite character or author, why not get the related holiday book?
Lastly, I’m sure you have favorites that didn’t make my list — I may not even know about them! I hope you’ll include any of your picks in the comments.