Twelve Christmas Stories to Read to Children
Looking for Christmas stories to read to children? Natalie has 12 to share with you today!
By Natalie, Contributing Writer
My favorite thing to do with my kids is read to them. Chapter books are great for reading out loud in the afternoon and at bedtime (and if you read to the end, I have a couple of bonus recommendations in that category).
But the younger children find beautiful picture books especially delightful–particularly during the Christmas season. There are so many lovely Christmas stories to collect. Every year we cycle through old favorites and add two to three new ones, too. Here are some we love:
Naomi’s Gift by Scott Freeman
A gentle, pro-life story about a doctor who delivers a deformed baby girl and suffers from regret—until he meets up with that girl years later and discovers that all human life is precious and has purpose and meaning. All human life can bring joy. This is a story of hope and wonder rooted in a visionary understanding of God’s purpose for life.
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones
For the art work alone, this book is well worth owning. The book itself celebrates the coming of the King through the eyes of God’s creation. The kids and I can’t get enough of this one. We read it over and over, and every reading is a beautiful experience.
Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider
The sweetest little story that teaches children how sacrificial living may mar the outward appearance, but is, in the long run, the more beautiful way to live. It also makes finding your next Christmas tree a magical experience.
And if you’re like me and have an artificial tree, this story will tempt you to throw it out and embrace the mess and hassle of a real one. Lovely, soft pictures capture hearts and imaginations.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and Illustrated by P.J. Lynch
This is the classic story you remember from high school, complete with large, unusual words, but captivatingly illustrated by Lynch. In spite of the fact that the prose is sometimes over their heads, my little girls beg for this one.
Their ears are hearing words laced together artistically, and that can only give them an appetite for excellence and enrich their spirits. Let me reiterate: the pictures are fascinating.
The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier
Gorgeous, realistic pictures and a text that not only gives a faithful telling of the Story but also gives some informative background through a narration provided by a mother’s dialogue with her son. The fact that THIS Christmas story is not fantasy, but HISTORY, is artfully made. I love that.
Fear Not, Joseph! by Julie Stiegmeyer
The Christmas Story uniquely told through the eyes of the man who raised the Son of God. Again, the illustrations are realistic and lovely to look at.
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham
This is a longer book with short chapters and interesting art work. The thing I love about this one is that it tells THE WHOLE CHRISTMAS STORY from the VERY BEGINNING. Creation.
The author uses the back story of a little boy who gets lost in the woods and stumbles upon the cottage of an elderly lady. This woman then narrates to the child the story of God’s creation of mankind, man’s fall into sin, and God’s active pursuance of man to salvation.
If you are looking for a resource that explains how all the pieces of the Bible fit together and point to Jesus Christ—look no further.
Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrom
My little girls adore this book about a little girl’s first Christmas after the death of her beloved father. This endearing story takes place in a farming community during the Depression.
The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
This is a new one for us last year, and I’m so glad we purchased it! It has an audio CD that comes with the book, and the kids love listening to the narrator tell the story while I turn the pages.
A little spoiled girl discovers that gifts are not as satisfying as she once thought. One Christmas she is given only three special gifts. She first thinks that it will be the dullest Christmas of her life but soon discovers that it really isn’t in receiving, but in GIVING, that true, lasting joy is found. This one is both meaningful AND fun.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
Another favorite that comes with an audio CD and is illustrated by the amazing Lynch (The Gift of the Magi), this book is a Christmas classic in our family.
The Legend of the Three Trees Illustrated by Dahl Taylor
There are several renditions of this legend, but this one came recommended to me. Three trees surrender to God’s plan for their lives and each play a part in the life of Jesus Christ.
Obviously it is not a true story, but it teaches the valuable lesson that God loves and uses all of us, regardless of our background, ability, and physical make up. We may not do everything we dream of doing, but if we do what God calls us to do, we will have lived life well.
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
Another classic Christmas story about an old man reflecting on his boyhood and his love for his father. Precious. Precious. Precious.
What’s more cozy and memorable than curling up together in front of a fireplace or on a big queen sized bed and listening to Mom or Dad read aloud? You can close your eyes and get lost in a captivating story. Here are some Christmas read alouds to consider:
The Innkeeper by John Piper
This is one of the most profound looks at the problem of suffering. I remember when Piper read this poem to his congregation many years ago.
It was unforgettable.
So when the poem came out in book form, we had to have a copy to read to our children each year. If you don’t already have a copy of this, you really must get one.
The Candle in the Window by Margaret Hill McCarter
A mail carrier spins a tale of his best Christmas ever. You can also get this in a new radio drama format from Lamplighter publishing.
Christmas in My Heart Series compiled and edited by Joe Wheeler
There are 22 of these, and they are hard to find. Each book has several beloved Christmas stories that have been passed down over the generations. You can purchase some of them through the link above, and you may be able to find used copies on Amazon. They don’t go in any order. Each book is just another collection of stories. We only have volume one, but we re-read some of the stories every year.
I’d like to share a Christmas book tradition we started when our kids were preschoolers. I wrapped 25 Christmas books (which include some of the books you mentioned in your list of 12) and placed them in a large basket. Everyday, starting Dec 1, the kids chose one book to unwrap and read. It didn’t matter that they were the same books each year. The kids were excited to see each book again, since we only got them out once a year. I don’t do this every year anymore now that our kids are in their upper teens. They still get a kick out of paging through their old favorites though. The first year we started this tradition we only had 5 Christmas books and I wrapped them in newspaper. We built up to 25 books in a few years from gifts and garage sales.
I JUST read about this idea on another site TODAY, and I’m so excited to try it this year! I LOVE IT!
One of our family’s favorites is “Mortimer’s Christmas Manger” by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, about a little mouse who finds a perfect home in a manger scene, only to have it rearranged every morning. When he overhears the story of Jesus’s birth, he realizes the nativity scene is not for him, and is then blessed with a house just his size… made of gingerbread!
What a wonderful post, Natalie. You’ve given such a great listing of books, many that I have not read and so I look forward to checking these out. I recently shared three of my family’s favorite Christmas books on my site (http://thenourishinghome.com/2013/11/books-a-thoughtful-gift/). They are: The Story of Christmas (a sweet board book for toddlers about Jesus’ birth), Saint Nicholas (the real story about this man of God) and The Crippled Lamb (grab a box of tissues, this one is a must-read). What a blessing that you’ve shared so many great books and encouragement. Reading is such an important thing to do with our children and it’s such a blessed way to teach them about our LORD. Blessings to you for a Merry CHRISTmas, Kelly
Most, if not all, of the Christmas In My Heart books are available from this site: http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/catalogsearch/result/?cat=&q=christmas+in+my+heart
I was just going to write about Mortimer, too. We love that book here. A great story for little ones to understand! A secular book that’s quite funny is “Olive the other Reindeer” (Olive is a dog who hears the song “Rudulph the Red-nose reindeer containing the lyric “All of the other reindeer” and thinks the lyrics are “Olive, the other Reindeer).
THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this EXTREMELY HELPFUL list!
We are so blessed that many of these books are in our library system! i’m excited to share them with our boys this year. Thanks again! i LOVE good book lists. Would someone consider doing a list of similarly good movies for young families?
I absolutely adore Christmas books! Thanks for sharing some that I don’t have yet. These look really good!
I was intrigued by your description of “Naomi’s Gift”. So, I followed the link and then googled the true story. What a beautiful story! I cried!
Thank you for these wonderful book suggestions. =)
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado is one of my personal favorites. 🙂
This is the Stable – beautiful illustrations and lilting rhyme. We love this one (and One Wintry Night also).
We love Christmas stories at our house! We also read the advent books by Arnold Ytreeide: Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels. They are a great addition for your older children.
I have to add another book that I just fell in love with. It’s The Nutcracker illustrated by Don Daily and retold by E. T. A. Hoffman. I picked this version up at a consignment sale for $3 last month. I had never read the actual story, but I wanted to give it a try for my 3 year old daughter. We would read a chapter at a time, and she really enjoyed it. I absolutely love this version. It is truly a living book with rich vocabulary and descriptions that bring the story to life. Charlotte Mason would most definitely approve, and along those lines, it is perfect for narration. (I don’t have my three year old do that formally yet, but I taught in a Charlotte Mason based school for nine years.) I know there are lots of other retellings out there that are probably very good, but from a rich literature point of view, this is outstanding! Some of the vocabulary is above my daughter’s head, but that is okay. I either explained key words, didn’t worry about a hard word, or substituted a more modern word for slightly archaic words that appeared just a few times. For children raised on rich literature, the vocabulary won’t phase them a bit. Were I still teaching, I’d read this to my fourth grade class, and I’m sure they would have loved it.
I’ve been following your site for a good while, mostly for inspiration on cooking and homemaking. However, if anything can make me stop lurking, it’s books.
I had no idea there was an illustrated version of “The Gift of the Magi” but since that’s my favorite Christmas story, I’m excited to find out.
My other favorite every-holiday read is a little book by Elizabeth Yates called On That Night. I first read Mom’s copy as a kid, and when I moved out, I found copies for me and my sisters online. It’s the kind of Christmas book that gives you a shiver, a tear, and a smile.