Every year since 2013, I’ve put together a list of Christmas picture books. It’s always a combination of new and old titles.
This year, I decided that it was time to put together a list of my all-time favorite Christmas picture books so they were all in one place, instead of scattered throughout nearly a decade worth of lists.
(Obviously, this doesn’t mean I don’t also love the other titles on the previous lists – it just means that if I’m FORCED to choose 25 favorite Christmas picture books, these would be the ones on my absolute most-adored list).
I’ll also have a list of new Christmas picture book releases coming out in a few weeks, so keep an eye out for that one!
Here are my 25 all-time favorite Christmas stories:
Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares.
This is one of my favorite recent Christmas picture books. It’s about a pair of cardinals who live together in a giant tree in a family’s yard. And when that tree is chosen to be the tree for the Rockefeller Center, the birds are separated. The illustrations on this one especially are just to die for.
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer.
I have been dying to get my hands on a copy of this for YEARS and my sister-in-law bought it for me a few years ago as a gift and it lived up to all my high expectations. It’s funny and then it’s so incredibly sweet.
Walk this World at Christmastime illustrated by
Presents Through the Window by Taro Gomi.
This might have been the most popular addition to our collection in 2017. Santa keeps peeking through the window and dropping in a present, but he guesses wrong every time and the presents are all wrong for the recipients!
A Little Christmas Tree by Anthony Merrill and Michael Bast, illustrated by Dan Burr.
I have pretty much NEVER recommended a self-published book on my blog, but this one is so gorgeous and the story is just the sweetest, about a tree who wants to be part of someone’s perfect Christmas, but when his branch is broken on his way down the mountain, it looks like he’s destined for the garbage instead.
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Cale Atkinson.
Harold isn’t sure he believes in Santa. If only he knew that Santa isn’t sure he believes in HAROLD.
There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Dennis Nolan.
This book doesn’t have any of the trappings of your standard Christmas story – no snow, no Santa, no stockings. And neither did the first Christmas.
Maple and Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols.
Maple and Willow forever, basically. I love these sweet sisters and I love the clever solution when one of the sisters turns out to be allergic to their perfect Christmas tree.
I Believe in Santa Claus by Diane G. Adamson.
This life-long favorite of mine uses sparse text to identify similarities to Santa and Jesus, and I just love it so much.
Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas by Rubin Pingk.
This one absolutely delights me every time. It’s so clever and fun and I love a good ninja.
Ho Ho Homework by Mylisa Larsen, illustrated by Taia Morley.
Jack has one Christmas wish but it doesn’t look like it’s going to come true. When a substitute teacher that is suspiciously similar to Santa shows up at school, Jack is wary but quietly hopeful. The illustrations remind me a little bit of Ezra Jack Keats in The Snowy Day.
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockcroft
This was probably Ella’s very favorite Christmas book when she was 2 and 3, and I can’t blame her. I love the beautiful illustrations and all the animals making room in a stable for Baby Jesus.
A Mustache Baby Christmas by Bridget Heos, illustrsted by Joy Ang.
My girls are OBSESSED with Mustache Baby and they were overjoyed to discover a Christmas version where Javier’s beard turns into a Santa beard and he’s put in charge of gifts for all the babies of the world.
The Bear and the Star by Lola Schafer, illustrated by Bethanne Andersen.
On a frozen winter morning, Bear spots a new star and when he arrives at a massive evergreen to celebrate, the other animals of the forest join him bringing their own gifts and wishes.
Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne.
I shared a photo of the interior of this book on Instagram last year and was flooded with messages asking for the title. It is UNBELIEVABLE. I can’t believe I didn’t see this one in 2018 when it was released, but I’m making up for lost time now.
Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda.
After we read Here Comes the Easter Cat, it was an instant favorite in our house and I was so delighted to see a Christmas version this year. Don’t be surprised if this is your child’s favorite.
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis.
I love Carson Ellis and her take on Susan Cooper’s poem about the Winter Solstice is stunning. This might be my favorite new addition to our Christmas picture books.
The Night of His Birth by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Lisa Aisato.
In this spectacular book, the nativity story is told from Mary’s point of view – from her first visit from Gabriel to the confusion of Joseph and worry of her parents to those first precious moments with her baby. I’ve never seen a nativity book quite like this.
A Creature was Stirring by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Carter Goodrich
This book repeats the classic “The Night Before Christmas” poem stanza by stanza on the left pages while the right pages have an original poem that shows a little boy who IS stirring and sneaks up to the roof to joyride in Santa’s sleigh. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law recorded an audio version of it to go along with the paper copy about ten years ago, and it’s so fun to listen to them read it (more details about doing your own DIY audiobooks here).
Oliver and Amanda’s Christmas by Jean Van Leeuwen, illustrated by Ann Schweninger
This might be my all-time favorite Christmas book. I LOVED this one growing up, with the sweet stories of a pig family getting ready for Christmas, and just looking at the illustrations makes me feel cozy.
One Starry Night by Lauren Thompson
I love the unique illustrations in this beautiful retelling of the first Christmas. Frankly, I can’t even look at the cover without getting a little teary-eyed.
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
A little mouse is on the hunt for a new home (this is ringing true to me right now as we look for a place to live in Durham) and thinks the nativity manger looks just right. But then he hears the Christmas story and realizes who belongs in the little creche.
Peter Spier’s Christmas! by Peter Spier
Every time I read a new Peter Spier book, I instantly decide that it’s my favorite. This wordless story of a family getting ready for Christmas, celebrating, and then enjoying putting everything away afterward is just so sweet and fun. Plus, my girls will look at the details of every picture for ages.
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
What are your favorite Christmas books? I’d love to hear which ones grab the top spots for you and your family!