The 9 Best Children’s Christmas Books to Buy in 2018

Celebrate the reason for the season with these great reads

Mixed race grandfather reading to grandson at Christmas
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Whether ‘tis the season or you’re just dreaming of a white Christmas in hot, sticky July, Christmas books are a great way to spread the joy of the season to children all year long.

From jolly Old St. Nick to the baby in the manager and that partridge in the pear tree, Christmas provides a flurry of fodder for some amazing stories.

Whether you’re reading to little tykes or looking for stories the whole family can enjoy, there’s no shortage of choices, no matter what your reason for celebrating the season. Though it’s tough to narrow them down, here are seven of the best Christmas books for children. They range from timeless classics with moral messages to sweet and silly new finds to add to your collection. All of them, however, are sure to become part of your childrens’ Christmas memories.

  • 01 of 09

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

    No Christmas season is complete without the Grinch and all of the Whos in Whoville who help him find the true meaning of Christmas. With its whimsical images and hilarious rhymes, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas delivers a serious message about the commercialization of Christmas.

    With a heart “two sizes too small,” the Grinch steals all of the Whos’ gifts, decorations and food (even the Who Pudding and Roast Beast!) Those Whos, however, aren’t phased, and Christmas goes on anyway. Their simple, yet still joyful celebration helps the green guy see the error of his Grinchy ways and realize that Christmas is really about the spirit of the season and being together.  

    The classic Dr. Seuss story was originally published in 1957, and its message is more appropriate today than ever as we’re too often overwhelmed with gift lists and menus and decorations. This book is a great way to remind readers young and old that Christmas means a whole lot more.

  • 02 of 09

    Yes, Virginia: There Is a Santa Claus by Francis P. Church

    If/when little minds start questioning if Santa Claus is real, this book provides the perfect answers. It’s based on the real-life story of 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon who in 1897 had her own doubts about Old St. Nick. Her father encouraged her to write to The New York Sun, telling her, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” So she wrote the paper asking if there is indeed a Santa Claus.

    The book reveals the editor’s sweet response, which contains the famous words: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” His message confirmed for Virginia (and millions of others who have read it since) that Santa and other “wonders unseen and unseeable in the world” are real.

    The beautifully illustrated pages will delight believers of all ages and convert a few non-believers along the way. It’s a heartwarming tale that will keep the magic of Christmas alive for years to come.

  • 03 of 09

    Dream Snow by Eric Carle

    Perfect for the toddler set, Dream Snow paints a beautiful picture of an animal-loving Santa Claus. It tells the story of a farmer dreaming of Christmas snow and how he takes care of his animals after the flakes actually begin to fall. He dons a red suit, goes outside and places presents under a tree for his five animals. The animals just so happen to be named One, Two, Three, Four and Five, making the book not only entertaining, but also a good lesson in counting.

    Fans of Carle’s other titles such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar will recognize the bright, colorful illustrations and simple, catchy words. Bonus: This hardback version includes plastic sheets decorated with snowflakes that hide each animal’s identity until they’re lifted as well as a button on the last page that provides a surprise musical ending to light up their Christmas dreams. It’s a quick, fun read kids will beg to read over and over again. 

  • 04 of 09

    The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

    For those who want to stress that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, The Tale of Three Trees is a perfect pick. Geared toward the preschool crowd, it tells the touching tale of three trees, each who thinks they know who they want to grow up to be. Spoiler alert: They grow up to be wood for Jesus’ manger, boat and cross -- not exactly what they imagined, but just what they were meant to do in life. It delivers the message that we’re each here for a special reason, even if we don’t always understand exactly what it is.

    This simply retold classic folktale is a lovely way to focus on the religious aspect of Christmas. While the trees make it a particularly festive book for Christmas, its message is one that is relevant all year long and makes a great Baptism or Easter gift as well. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

    Pure magic fills the pages of the Polar Express as it beautifully captures every child’s dreams of meeting Santa Claus. It tells the tale of one boy who is whisked away by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. He travels on a train with other children to the North Pole where he gets to make his Christmas wish. When he choses a bell from Santa’s sleigh that only those who believe can hear, he learns a powerful message about keeping the spirit of Christmas alive and what happens when you don’t.

    The Caldecott-winning book makes a great gift that families will enjoy for years to come. It’s a great choice for those who are beginning to question the season’s traditions and will put to rest their doubts that the magic of Christmas is real. From the gorgeous pastel images to the quietly poignant message, it’s a favorite for children and adults alike. All aboard! 

  • 06 of 09

    Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

    Poor Olive. This zany little dog misunderstands the lyrics to the classic Christmas tune “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to be “Olive… the other Reindeer” (instead of “all of the other reindeer”).  Deciding that’s her, the bold Jack Russell Terrier heads straight up to the North Pole to report for duty. Though she’s not quite sure what Santa and the gang had in mind, when one of the reindeer is injured, Olive ends up stepping up to the challenge and saving Christmas. You’ll be cheering her the whole way as Olive shows the value of individual differences.

    Published in 1997, this one has fast become a favorite of children and parents alike over the years, earning its place on bookshelves next to traditional favorites. It’s a sweet, silly tale that will elicit plenty of giggles and put the merry in Merry Christmas.

  • 07 of 09

    Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

    The story of Jesus’ birth in that Bethlehem manager is told in this sweet tale from the perspective of the animals who were there. It begins as Kind Ox welcomes the animals one by one to share his stable on that cold Christmas Eve. “There’s always room for a little one,” he says repeatedly as a dog, cat and mouse seek shelter. Finally, along comes Tired Donkey along with Mary and Joseph, and they all witness the baby’s birth.

    It’s a great choice for parents who are introducing the nativity story to their animal-loving children in a charming and meaningful way. It’s short and simple enough to keep the attention of preschoolers, but also beautifully illustrated and sweetly told enough to captivate older children as well. Reading it is a great way for the whole family to come together and prepare for Christmas.

  • 08 of 09

    Llama Llama Jingle Bells

    In this short and sweet rhyming book for kids, little llama and his friends participate in holiday activities like gift-giving and decorating holiday cookies. Each Llama Llama book teaches a lesson, and this one encourages little ones to spread holiday cheer through their actions. This book touches on great concepts, and highlights holiday activities that kiddos will find familiar.

    This board book is great for babies and toddlers because the thick pages are easy to turn, and the bright illustrations will captivate even those with short attention spans. The thick pages also help this book stand up over time. Llama Llama Jingle Bells is sure to get your youngsters excited for the holidays!

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition

    No holiday story time would be complete without the Elf on the Shelf! Elf on the Shelf is a mischievous, fun-loving elf that helps Santa Claus with his Naughty and Nice lists. After all, most children don't know about the magical scout elves that help Santa determine who is on the Naughty List and who's on the Nice List each year! Written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, this enchanting story will quickly become a household favorite.

    If you decide to buy the set that includes the book and the elf, you can hide the elf each morning for your child to find. Reviewers note that seeing how happy this makes their children is the best gift of all. It's a lot of fun during the holiday season—or throughout the whole year. This book is 26 pages long, so it's perfect for ages four through eight.