10 Incredible Picture Books to Read at Christmas

Today I’m delighted to share 10 of my favorite Christmas children’s books. These books range from laugh-out-loud funny to heartwarming and sentimental. They all have something different to offer and are sure to be loved by the whole family.

SantaTrapThe Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett

Bradley Bartleby is so bad that everyone is terrified of him. Everyone, that is, except Santa Claus. Every year in lieu of the mountain of presents that Bradley asks for, Santa brings him a pair of socks. So Bradley decides to do something badder than he’s ever done before – set a trap for Santa

yes_virginiaYes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal

This sweet tale is based on the true story of a little girl named Virginia. In 1897 Virginia wrote a letter to the New York Sun asking a very important question: Is there a Santa Claus?

12daysofchristmas_brettThe Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett

This traditional Christmas carol has been illustrated by the incomparable Jan Brett.

StickManStick Man by Julia Donaldson

After escaping a dog who mistakes him for a fetch toy, Stick Man tries to return home to his family tree, but a series of obstacles take him further and further away. As Christmas draws near, Stick Man worries that he might not make it back in time to spend the holiday with his family.

grinch_bookHow the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

For almost 60 years this green yuletide menace has made children smile. You can’t have Christmas without the Grinch!

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

For years, beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien sent his children letters from Father Christmas, telling tales of wondrous adventures in the North Pole. More than forty years’ worth of Tolkien’s letters and drawings have been compiled into this larger-than-life Christmas story.

birdsofbethlehemThe Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola

Early one morning, the birds of the town of Bethlehem gather together to share some extraordinary news. From their unique vantage, the birds have seen a series of astonishing events. This book is a new and imaginative take on the traditional nativity story.

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn and Mark Buehner

Gorgeous paintings bring to life all the magical antics of a group of snow people, who come out to celebrate on Christmas Eve while the rest of the town is fast asleep.

Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

This laugh-out-loud funny book is the story of a dog named Olive who dreams of being one of Santa’s reindeer!

The Gift Of The Magi illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

This is a beautifully illustrated version of the classic O. Henry short story about a husband and wife who both sell their most prized possession to buy each other the perfect Christmas gift.

Which one of these Christmas picture books is your favorite?

Do you have a favorite holiday picture book that I didn’t include on this list? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I absolutely love Jan Brett! When I still did art, I drew on her style quite often.

  2. Love your blog! You put up some new books to me (and old favorites)– Haven’t seen the Tolkien book. I’d love to get a copy of that one…

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I try to include a mix of my childhood favorites, books that were popular when I was selling books, and books that are new to me.

  3. This is a great list. The Gift of Magi is one of my personal favorites, but I am saving the book until daughter is older (she is 6 now). Thanks for sharing with The Children’s Bookshelf!

    • Thank you! The Gift of the Magi is definitely one that everyone should have a chance to read; the themes are used so often in modern Christmas stories. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Good choices, but no Polar Express???

  5. We’ve only read half of these, so we must check out the other ones! I’ve been recommending Snowmen at Christmas to everyone, but since you already have that on the list, we also really like “Santa Claus, the World’s Number One Toy Expert.”

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  7. Youre lucky I love you and all that jazz because I agree with Ali….POLAR EXPRESS. Anyhow, see you Thursday woo!

  8. I did not know Tolkien wrote a Christmas book. I will have to look for that.

    • Letters From Father Christmas is quite a unique book. It’s a collection of letters that Tolkien wrote for his own children from Santa Claus. It’s definitely worth checking out. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Thanks for the list! Next year, I’m going to have to check some of the ones that are new to me out from the library! I’ll be pinning this list.

  10. Terry Doherty says:

    O Henry’s Gift of the Magi is one of my all-time favorites!! We have the 12 Days of Christmas & Snowmen at Night. The former is fun, the latter is just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

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