Whether you have adopted the lovely Christmas tradition of unwrapping 24 books as part of your advent festivities or, like us, you simply have a box of beloved Christmas books that makes an annual appearance for the month of December, there is no denying that reading Christmas books together with your children in the lead-up to the big day makes reading time extra special.
Our humble box of books includes many favorite Christmas classics that my children have lovingly pored over year after year, and while I add at least two or three titles each year, it’s the classics that they ask to read again and again. So, in celebration of the Christmas classics, here are 12 titles that I know your family will enjoy discovering (or re-discovering) this December.
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is the wonderful tale of the Grinch (with a heart three sizes too small) who detests Christmas. When his plan to steal all the gifts from the residents of Whoville to stop Christmas coming fails, the Grinch learns that Christmas means much more than presents, music, and feasts. A great story to read together, How the Grinch Stole Christmas invites you and your child to reflect upon the values your family holds dear at Christmastime.
2. Sharing the lyrics from the popular 1950's song, Frosty the Snowman by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins is the story of a snowman brought to life by a magical top hat. It includes cheerful, bright, and colorful illustrations by Sam Williams. Just try reading it to your kids without singing along!
3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is the story of one child’s magical train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve where he is gifted a Christmas bell. While it’s a sweet story to share with all children, for those questioning their belief in Santa it offers a sweet reminder that many wondrous things in life often cannot be seen with the eyes.
4. Beautifully crafted illustrations bring the classic ballet of Clara and her wooden toy nutcracker to life in The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin. Travel with Clara on a magical Christmas adventure into the Land of Sweets and see the Nutcracker transform into a handsome prince! It's a perfect title to share together at read-aloud time during the holidays.
5. Share a piece of your own childhood by introducing them to Charlie Brown! Despite all the holiday trimmings of the holidays, Charlie Brown feels something is missing and sets out to find the true Christmas spirit in A Charlie Brown Christmasby Charles M. Schulz. Can the Peanuts gang help Charlie Brown enjoy a merry Christmas after all?
6. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola shares the traditional tale of how the poinsettia became a symbol of Christmas. A young girl, Lucida, tries to help her mother finish a blanket for the baby Jesus in the Christmas procession. When her mother falls ill, and the blanket cannot possibly be finished, Lucida despairs that her family have nothing to give and learns that it is not the gift that is important, but the heart behind the act of giving.
7. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is an imaginative, wordless picture book. The story begins with a young boy excited to build a snowman. Later, as the boy sleeps, the snowman comes to life, visiting the boy’s home to discover what it’s like. In return, the snowman takes the boy on an amazing adventure to see the world.
8. “'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” begins Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, brought to life by Jan Brett’s illustrations in this version of The Night Before Christmas. Read the poem together on Christmas Eve, before the children head off to dream big holiday dreams, this book is sure to become a treasured holiday read for your family.
9. Clifford’s Christmas by Norman Bridwell features the much-loved big, red dog, Clifford as he celebrates Christmas with Emily Elizabeth. On Christmas night, Santa accidentally falls into Clifford’s stocking and the gifts from Santa’s bag fall into Clifford’s water bowl and are ruined! Can Clifford help Santa save Christmas? A fun Christmas story for preschool-sized Clifford fans.
10. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Ahlberg is an interactive story with gorgeous illustrations. It’s Christmastime and the Jolly Postman completes his round, spreading Christmas good wishes and cheer by delivering letters, cards and parcels to the homes of well-known fairytale characters. This is a delightful story to share with children of all ages.
11. Dream Snow is Eric Carle’s wonderful Christmas story of a farmer who wonders how it can possibly be Christmas when there is no snow. He falls asleep and dreams of the farm being covered with a white, snowy blanket, only to awaken to find snow really has fallen during the night. The interactive illustrations and a novelty musical element at the end of the story add extra holiday fun to story time.
12. Jan Brett’s illustrations beautifully complement the lyrics of the tradition Christmas song in The Twelve Days of Christmas. Whether you read or sing the story with your children, be sure to pause to take in the fabulous details included in the illustrations.