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40 Best Christmas Books for Kids That Bring Magic to the Holidays

Who even needs the hottest toy when you have piles and piles of great Christmas books for kids to read?

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Kids Christmas Books Collagerd.com, via amazon.com (4)

Christmas books for kids and kids-at-heart

Christmas is a time for telling and sharing stories, and what better way to do that than with these magical Christmas books for kids? Reading is one of the best Christmas activities for the whole family. So we’ve put together a collection of these must-read additions to your bookshelf, from cherished classics to modern masterpieces, arranged by target age. Of course, there are plenty of great Christmas books for grown-ups and all ages, too. And you can add to your holiday celebration with the best Christmas movies for kids, too!

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The Night Before Christmas Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore and illustrated by Cheryl Harness

Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (almost universally known now as “The Night Before Christmas”) has been made into countless beautiful Christmas books. Your little one will love the gorgeous full-page illustrations in this 1990 version illustrated by Cheryl Harness, and reading it is sure to become a favorite Christmas Eve tradition.

Best for: ages 2 and up

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Mr Willowbys Christmas Tree Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

In this endlessly readable rhyming tale released in 1963, the wealthy Mr. Willowby has a Christmas tree delivered to his home…but it’s a tad too big, so he has the top cut off and tossed away. That treetop makes its way through the forest as several non-human Christmas celebrants come across it and think it’ll make the perfect addition to their own homes. As for where it finally ends up…well, you’ll have to read it and see. Mr. Willowby may not be able to, but you can use these awesome Christmas tree toppers!

Best for: ages 3 and up

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I Spy Christmas by Walter Wick And Jean Marzollo Via Amazonvia amazon.com

I Spy Christmas by Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo

Get ready to get lost in the mesmerizing images of I Spy with a holiday twist. You could spend hours upon hours uncovering all the delightful little details in images of Santa’s workshop, snowy fields, store windows, and more. While you’re waiting for your I Spy book to arrive, check out these other Christmas brain teasers.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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The Snowy Day By Ezra Jack Keats Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The first snowfall of the holiday season is magical, especially if you’re a kid. Keats’ Caldecott Award-winning picture book, originally published in 1962, captures the simplicity and wonder of waking up to see everything covered in snow, putting readers in the shoes of young Peter.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May And Illustrated By David Wenzel Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May and illustrated by David Wenzel

Psst…this came out before the animated holiday special. In 1939, Robert L. May wrote a poem about a reindeer with an unusual facial feature that took the world by storm. (Pun intended.) The original story of Rudolph is chronicled in this beautiful 2001 book—and it’s far from identical to the one you’re familiar with from the Christmas cartoon!

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Froggy's Best Christmas By Jonathan London And Illustrated By Frank Remkiewicz Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Froggy’s Best Christmas by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

“Froooooogggggggyyyyyy!” The well-meaning but hapless amphibian experiences Christmas for the first time when his friend Max the beaver wakes him up from hibernation. You know you’re in for rollicking holiday hijinks! Get up to your own holiday hijinks with these fun Christmas games.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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I Got The Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield Morrison And Illustrated By Frank Morrison Via Amazonvia amazon.com

I Got the Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison

This wife-and-husband writer-illustrator team produces a rollicking Christmas journey in which a young girl and her mom explore the town at Christmastime, complete with all the sights and sounds of the season. Packed with joyful onomatopoeia, I Got the Christmas Spirit is impossible to pick up without experiencing a massive helping of, well, Christmas spirit. Get a chuckle from these Christmas jokes for kids.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Mickeys Christmas Carol by Megan Roth Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Mickey’s Christmas Carol by Megan Roth

Disney does Dickens! The classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the trio of Christmas ghosts, and more are made familiarly kid-friendly in this darling adaptation starring Donald, Mickey, Goofy, and more. Can’t get enough Disney over the holidays? Put some of these Disney gifts on your Christmas list.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Bear Stays Up For Christmas By Karma Wilson And Illustrated By Jane Chapman Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman

Bear is normally hibernating during Christmastime, but this year, his animal friends try to keep him awake to celebrate. Fun rhyming text and a sweet story about friendship and giving await!

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Twas Nochebuena By Roseanne Greenfield Thong And Illustrated By Sara Palacios via Amazonvia amazon.com

‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Sara Palacios 

This bilingual retelling of The Night Before Christmas takes readers into the home of a Latin American family during their Christmas Eve feast of Nochebuena.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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The Snowman By Raymond Briggs Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

In a true exemplar of “a picture is worth a thousand words,” this textless picture book came out in 1978 and has remained an enduring classic. Its beautiful tale of a young boy building a snowman that comes to life will have you saying “Frosty who?” Frosty is a classic; find out the other best Christmas movies of all time.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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The Tailor Of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

The Peter Rabbit author wrote about a whole host of cute anthropomorphic animals! Published in 1903, The Tailor of Gloucester tells the story of a struggling tailor trying to put together a beautiful outfit for the mayor, who is getting married on Christmas. He’s human, but all the mice in the dresser join together to help him get the job done on time. Check out these stocking stuffers for toddlers your little ones will absolutely love.

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Carls Christmas By Alexandra Day Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day

Dog-loving tots will be swept away by the gorgeous watercolor illustrations in this 1990 tail. The star of the show is Carl, a Rottweiler who has an extraordinary day of fun and charitable Christmas activities—all while taking care of a baby! Talk about celebrating the holiday with pets!

Best for: ages 3 and up

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The Small One By Alex Walsh And Jesse Clay Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Small One by Alex Walsh and Jesse Clay

In Bethlehem, a young boy is trying to sell his small donkey, but no one wants him because he can’t carry heavy loads. But when a young couple that’s about to have a baby needs a ride, it turns out he’s the perfect size. The Small One provides a sweet new perspective on the Nativity story!

Best for: ages 3 and up

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Pete The Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean And Eric Litwin Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean and Eric Litwin

The coolest cat around gets his own Christmas “tail” in this take on The Night Before Christmas like you’ve never seen it before! This edition even comes with a sticker sheet to help your kid with their Christmas crafts.

Best for: age 4 and up

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Dasher by Matt Tavares Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Dasher by Matt Tavares

There are oodles of Christmas books for kids telling the Santa story—but what about the reindeer that do the hard work of pulling his sleigh? This book tells the touching story of a young doe named Dasher who wished for more than a life in the circus. Dasher follows her journey up north, where Christmas as we knew it will never be the same.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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The Christmas Coat Memories Of My Sioux Childhood By Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve And Illustrated By Ellen Beier Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve and illustrated by Ellen Beier

Sneve recounts a story from her own childhood in this 2019 Christmas book. Living on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in modern-day South Dakota, Virginia wants nothing more than a new winter coat. But when a shipment of warm winter clothes arrives from a church drive, Virginia learns that others may have a greater need for them than she does.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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Christmas Day In The Morning By Pearl S. Buck And Illustrated By Mark Buehner Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck and illustrated by Mark Buehner

Not too many people can boast of being Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, but Pearl S. Buck can! In this book originally published in 1955, a young boy named Rob just wants to get the perfect Christmas gift for Dad, but he has hardly any money. You can bet this one comes to a heart-stirring conclusion and you’ll want to revisit it every year.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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The Nutcracker In Harlem by T. E. Mcmorrow And Illustrated By james Ransome Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow and illustrated by James Ransome

You know the story and the tunes, and you may have seen the ballet or one of the many film adaptations. You won’t be disappointed by this jazz-style adaptation that sets the story during the Harlem Renaissance as a young girl embraces her musical talent.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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The Christmas Quiet Book By Deborah Underwood And Renata Liwska Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska

Christmas can be a seriously hectic time! Underwood and Liwska’s charming tale reminds kids (and grown-ups) to take a quiet moment to appreciate what’s around them and the magic of the holidays.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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Tree Of Cranes By Allen Say Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Tree of Cranes by Allen Say

A young boy living in Japan experiences his first Christmas when his mother, who grew up in America, decorates a Christmas tree for him with origami paper cranes. You’ll be inspired to try out these DIY Christmas decorations anyone can make.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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The Broken Ornament By Tony Diterlizzi Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Broken Ornament by Tony DiTerlizzi

Young Jack accidentally breaks a Christmas ornament and can’t understand why his mom is so upset about it. And when DiTerlizzi, one of the minds behind the whimsical Spiderwick Chronicles series, is penning this tale, you know there’s going to be more to it than a simple kid-makes-a-mistake-and-learns-a-lesson story! When a real-life fairy comes out of the broken ornament, Jack thinks his problems are over—but that’s far from the case.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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The Velveteen Rabbit By Margery Williams And Illustrated By William Nicholson Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson

Here’s another timeless classic that makes a beautiful Christmas read. A “toys-come-to-life” story long before the Pixar film, The Velveteen Rabbit tells the story of the titular shabby Christmas toy that gets the chance to become real. It was originally published in 1922—it’s nearly 100 years old.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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Christmas Makes Me Think By Tony Medina And Illustrated By Chandra Cox Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medina and illustrated by Chandra Cox

This 2008 book reminds readers that they’re never too young to think of others—even during a season that, to them, might seem all about “getting stuff.” The young boy in the story loves Christmas and its many traditions, but he can’t help but wonder what people who are less fortunate do during the holidays. He learns that he can make a difference and help give back, and your young reader will too. In fact, here are some great gifts that give back.

Best for: ages 4 and up

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Everybody's Tree by Barbara Joosse And Illustrated By renée Graef via Amazonvia amazon.com

Everybody’s Tree by Barbara Joosse and illustrated by Renée Graef 

This beautiful 2020 book tells the story of a young boy who picks out a tiny sapling at a tree farm and grows alongside the tree. Eighty years later, he’s an old man and the tree is a towering Christmas centerpiece for the town! You might be inspired by these Christmas tree ideas for your own home.

Best for: ages 5 and up

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How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss Via Amazonvia amazon.com

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Whether you practically know this tale by heart or are new to it, this is a must on any list of Christmas books for kids. The grumpy Grinch learns that “Christmas doesn’t come from a store”—a lesson that’s as relevant now as it was in 1957, maybe even more.

Best for: ages 5 and up

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The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A bona fide classic for kids and grown-ups alike, this stunningly illustrated 1985 book journeys to the North Pole with a young boy on a fantastical train. The story is much simpler than the rollicking one in the film adaptation but just as magical. Check out these other Christmas cartoons to watch this year.

Best for: ages 5 and up

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Poofin The Cloud That Cried On Christmas By Richard M. Wainwright And Illustrated By Jack Crompton Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Poofin: The Cloud That Cried on Christmas by Richard M. Wainwright and illustrated by Jack Crompton

Poofin, a little cloud that’s not too fond of responsibility, is sent to Earth to learn how to help people. Assigned to a human named Bobby, Poofin makes attempt after attempt to help him that all go awry. But finally, Poofin learns that he has the power to bring joy not just to Bobby but to his entire town. Whimsical, detailed illustrations make this one a winner!

Best for: ages 6 and up

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How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T Smith Via Amazonvia amazon.com

How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith

Winston, a mouse, finds a letter addressed to Santa and decides to get it to him in this storybook/Christmas activity hybrid. With 24 (and a half) chapters, this book encourages kids to read a chapter a day in December—and each chapter contains its own fun activity to bring the reading experience into your bigger holiday celebration.

Best for: ages 6 and up

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The Christmas Miracle Of Jonathan Toomey By Susan Wojciechowski And Illustrated By Pj Lynch Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P. J. Lynch

Everyone calls Jonathan Toomey, the village carpenter, “Mr. Gloomy” because…well, he seems like a sad, grumpy guy. But a young boy and his mother eventually reach out to try to cheer him up…and a poignant true-meaning-of-Christmas tale unfolds. The anniversary edition of this beautiful, emotional story includes an audiobook download read by James Earl Jones. Find out the history of the most common Christmas symbols.

Best for: ages 6 and up

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Jingle Bells, Batman Smells Ps So Does May By Barbara Park Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.) by Barbara Park

Everyone’s favorite snarky, precocious first-grader takes on Christmastime in this holiday installment of the beloved Junie B. Jones series. When her first-grade class does a Secret Santa, Junie B. ends up stuck having to get her nemesis, Tattletale May, a Secret Santa gift. What should she do?!

Best for: ages 6 and up

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A Tiny Miracle By Richard M. Wainwright And Illustrated By Jack Crompton Via Amazonvia amazon.com

A Tiny Miracle by Richard M. Wainwright and illustrated by Jack Crompton

A charming but tiny Christmas tree living in a forest wants nothing more than to be selected to be the centerpiece of a family’s home. But no one wants a Christmas tree so small, his bigger siblings tell him. But of course, he finds out that he’s perfect and can be loved just the way he is.

Best forages 6 and up

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The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever By Barbara Robinson Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Herdmans are “bad kids”; everyone knows that. So when they take over the local Christmas pageant, everyone is prepared for chaos. And chaos they get—but that might be exactly what the town needs. Get ready for laughs and touching surprises.

Best for: ages 8 and up

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Letters From Father Christmas By Jrr Tolkien Via Amazonvia amazon.com

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

Before he penned the fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was a dad spinning fantastical yarns for his four young children. He wrote multiple illustrated letters and stories for them, from the perspective of either Santa Claus himself or his secretary, an elf. (Hmm, foreshadowing.) Originally written from 1920 to 1943, the letters were first published three years after his death, in 1976.

Best for: ages 8 and up

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A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig Via Amazonvia amazon.com

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

In this rollicking twist on the Santa origin story, young Nikolas is content to have one toy and a loving father. But when that father goes missing, it’s up to Nikolas to save him—even if it means journeying up north to the mystical village of Elfhelm. In November 2021, A Boy Called Christmas will debut as one of the kids’ Christmas movies on Netflix.

Best for: ages 8 and up

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The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum Via Amazonvia amazon.com

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

J.R.R. Tolkien wasn’t the only 19th–2oth century fantasy guru, best known for something else, to tackle the story of Santa Claus. L. Frank Baum, the man behind The Wizard of Oz, wrote this lighting-fast page-turning read in 1902. It addresses all the mysteries of Santa’s life and work in a whimsical, satisfying fashion. These Christmas movies on Disney Plus provide some fun holiday whimsy too.

Best for: ages 8 and up

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Flight Of The Reindeer The True Story Of Santa Claus And His Christmas Mission by Robert Sullivan And Illustrated By Glenn Wolff Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christmas Mission by Robert Sullivan and illustrated by Glenn Wolff

Slightly older kids’ eyes will light up at this beautiful book that dives into the historical context of the legend of Santa Claus. Robert Sullivan’s meticulously researched collection includes input from historians, Arctic experts, and—wait for it—Santa-ologists to provide a grounded behind-the-scenes look at the magic of Mr. Claus.

Best for: ages 8 and up

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A Newbery Christmas, Compiled And Edited By Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh Via Amazonvia amazon.com

A Newbery Christmas, compiled and edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh

Voracious readers will love spending the holiday season with these 14 Christmastime tales written by Newbery Medal-winning authors. Hilariously relatable Christmas adventures like those of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona join poignant tales of understanding like Eleanor Estes’ “The Hundred Dresses.” Pick and choose or read them all—you’re in for a moving holiday reading experience.

Best for: ages 9 and up

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Greenglass House by Kate Milford Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

If your kids would prefer a creepy, creaky inn over the North Pole for their Christmas books, they have to get their hands on Greenglass House. This series-starting mystery follows the son of the innkeeper, who’s puzzled when several mysterious, curious characters arrive at the inn for the holidays. He teams up with the daughter of the cook to unravel the guests’ secrets—and perhaps the deeper mystery of the house itself. Published in 2016, Greenglass House won the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.

Best for: ages 10 and up

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Let It Snow Collection By John Green, Maureen Johnson, And Lauren Myracle Via Amazonvia amazon.com

Let It Snow collection by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Christmas books for kids don’t all have to be for the littlest ones! This trio of blockbuster authors for teens collaborated in 2008 on this holiday romance collection set in a town slammed by a snowstorm. In 2019, Let It Snow was made into a Christmas movie on Netflix.

Best for: ages 12 and up

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.

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