Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Top 10 All Time Favorite Christmas Books

You want to know what's sad? I don't actually own any of these books.

But nearly all of these are the classic tales I grew up with as a child, and they are the ones I want my kids to grow up with. Luckily, my little boy is too young for most of these right now, so I still have some time to start collecting. But I've got to get to work.

1. The Gift of the Magi This is the classic story from O. Henry that is just beautiful and heart wrenching and I cry every time I read it.
2. The Night Before Christmas At one point in my life I had this whole poem memorized (thank you cheesy Christmas programs in elementary school). But I think it's better told with illustrations, and Jan Brett's have always been a favorite of mine.
3. The Littlest Angel When researching all of my favorite Christmas books, I was surprised when I didn't find this one on any lists I looked at. Do people not know about this book? Because the story of a little angel looking for the perfect gift for the Christ child is completely adorable. This is one of my favorite Christmas books from when I was a kid.
4. The Little Match Girl So, Hans Christian Anderson could be a bit depressing at times, and this story is no exception. Tears everywhere, but I suppose I prefer my Christmas stories to end with tears. Call me morbid.
5. The Tale of Three Trees Another favorite from my childhood. And the great thing about this one is it works for Easter too, and really, all year round. No need to keep this one locked away with the Christmas decorations.
6. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey More tears.
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas Okay, I know some people love the movie version (or the cartoon version) of this book, but for me this is definitely one of those cases where the book is better (I really don't care for the additional plot lines used to stretch out the movie). Keep my Dr. Seuss pure, please.
8. The Polar Express Another case where the book is much better than the movie. And while I don't particularly care about the "Believe in Santa!" message of this story, the illustrations are just so beautiful. And it's fun. So there.
9. The Nutcracker I took ballet lessons all during my growing-up years, and performed in my company's version of The Nutcracker every December. I'm kind of praying that some day I have a little girl who loves ballet as much as I do, because I will take her to see The Nutcracker every year. In the meantime, it would be nice to have a good illustrated version of this story on hand. And I'm talking about the original version by E.T.A. Hoffman. I know it's a little long (over a hundred pages), but originals are always best.
10. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever This one is also a little longer, and not a picture book. But it's such an adorable book for elementary aged children I couldn't help but put it on here. My mom used to read this book to us every year when we were younger, and it's hilarious and sweet and brings more tears. I'm excited for when I have kids old enough to read this book to.

I know a bunch of people who do advent activities with Christmas books (even wrapping up the books for their kids to unwrap), and I kind of like that idea, but I'd need to find 14 more books to add to this list (although, those last two could be spread out over a couple days). Maybe I should just find two more books and do the 12 days of Christmas. Any suggestions? What are your favorite Christmas books not on this list? (Especially ones about Christ. Just like my movie list, shockingly few of these stories are actually about Christ, which is sad. I would love to find a good Nativity story.)


  1. That's the edition of "The Gift of the Magi" that we have, and I love it. It breaks up the text for my kids, and the illustrations are heartrending.

    For nativity picture books, our two favorites are "Room for a Little One" and "The Christmas Story" illus. by Carol Heyer. I admit, it has been very difficult to find any stories about the birth of Christ that deal with it in a way I feel comfortable with. But I love both of these books.

  2. Oh, we love Christmas books, too! Some of our favorites are: "Mr. Willoby's Christmas Tree" by Robert Barry, "Mooseltoe" by Margie Palitini, "Christmas Oranges" by Linda Bethers...
    If you want happy tears, "A Christmas Dress for Helen" retold by Thomas S. Monson gets me every single time.