It’s Christmas week. Mom comes to find me, her hands clasped around something behind her back. The gift is often wrapped, but whether it is or not, she usually makes me close my eyes, adding to the suspense. Except it’s not a complete surprise—I know what’s coming, but not because I’ve gone around looking for my presents like some of your kids do. This special just-before-Christmas gift has become a tradition in our family.
What is this gift? You can probably guess by the title of my post, and if you’re thinking “a book,” you’re right. More specifically, it is a Christmas book.
Christmas books come in all shapes, sizes, and genres. Some are beautifully illustrated with poetic words that are great for reading aloud; others require imagination to see the delightful story. Among my favorites are illustrated retellings of the original Christmas story.
In hopes that your family might be inspired to create a new tradition, here are some Christmas books that are favorites for Mom and me:
“The Quiet Little Woman” by Louisa May Alcott
The touching story of a young orphan girl who longs for friendship, love, and belonging, this short story can be read in one sitting, but if you do a read-aloud session, I’d recommend sharing the reading between a couple of participants. Mom and I prefer reading every other page so that we can both enjoy viewing the illustrations in our copy. Read reviews on Goodreads.
Benjamin’s Sling by Eileen Berry
My autographed copy of this Christmas picture book actually traveled home with me one Christmas break. When I found out that Mom had gotten her sister to wrap the book and ask me to transport it home, I had a good laugh! This retelling of the nativity is told through the eyes of a shepherd boy and is written in poetic form. Buy the book.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Christmases past, present, and future are reflected on in this classic novel, and Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge is brought face-to-face with the effects of his actions. You have probably seen different film versions, as I have; but the book is almost always better! Download the free eBook from Amazon.
“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry
Your teens could get caught up in the mushy love of a young couple secretly planning gifts for each other, but don’t let them miss this story’s deeper message. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Read reviews on Goodreads.
The Secret Santa of Olde Stonington by Mark Kimball Moulton
A native New-Englander, Mom taught me to love this story with its poetic flow and impressionistic-like illustrations. The title might give the impression that the book is about Santa Claus, but don’t worry. It’s a good read-aloud book that tells how an old man tries to meet the needs of others in a small seaport village in the 1700s. Read a review on Goodreads.
Christmas Crossroads by Elizabeth Raum
What path would your child takes on the way to visit Jesus on the very first Christmas? This novel for seven- to nine-year-olds lets readers choose the actions of one of three children who are traveling for that very purpose. Each decision point brings a twist in the plot and a new adventure and provides a unique way for kids to imagine what the first Christmas would have been like for someone their age. Buy the book.
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
My grandmother introduced me to this Christmas book, but Mom and I have also enjoyed it together. One dark night a new tradesman comes to town. The local children have a secret wish for the kind of business they hope he’ll open—a candy store. Woven into this imaginary story is the significance behind the candy cane’s shape and colors. It’s a fun story to end with a sweet treat! Read reviews on Goodreads.
Chickadee Winter by Dawn L. Watkins
A favorite author from my childhood, Dawn Watkins skillfully communicates the essence of childhood dreams, memories, and concerns in this classic story. It recounts young Jack’s homesickness during the Christmas season and the special role his grandfather plays in making new memories. Buy the book.
What Christmas books would you add to this list?