6 Dec 2013

20 Christmas books to read aloud

My friend, Penny, is after me to post a list of our favourite Christmas books, so here it is, my good friend - a list in size order from largest at the bottom to smallest as the top.  Which is as good a way of ordering them as any, I guess.

1. Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Francis P. Church

Virginia's letter to The Sun is special enough, but when it is illustrated by Joel Spector's fabulous illustrations, it is just magical.  This is what Santa Claus really is.

If you see it in The Sun, it's so.

2. Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

A sweet tale of warmth, empathy and compassion. Gentle and peaceful with knock-your-socks-off paintings by Bagram Ibatoulline.  One of my favourites.

3. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Not really a read aloud, because there aren't any words to read. It is a magical book to look at with kids, though.  We make time for the movie version every year too. Don't you just love Walking in the Air?

4. Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson

Here she is at Christmastime
Complete with tinsel and holly
Singing fa la la la lolly
And over the roar of the jingle bells
You can hear hear hear her say
It's absolutely Christmas
But I don't mind a bit
I give everyone a present
For that's the thing of it
So when it's everly Christmastime
And you're under your Christmas trees
Simply tinkle a bell and have a trinkle
And remember
Okay. I'm just a sucker for Eloise. That is all. I don't need any other reason to include a book, do I?

5. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck

A heartwarming tale of love and self sacrifice for all ages by a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize wining author with lovely illustrations by Mark Buehner. Check that you have tissues.

6. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore

Because you absolutely have to read this one of Christmas Eve.  I love Matt Tavare's black and white sketch drawings, and the original wording in this version.  There is something special about the way the words flow in this classic poem.

7. A Bush Christmas by C. J. Dennis

This Aussie classic poem written in 1931 paints a picture of an Australian Christmas in the bush - a Christmas still largely influenced by the traditions of 'The Old Country". Read my review and well as the whole poem here. At the bottom of that old post you'll find a bonus list of books in our Basket of Delights along with their covers in case you don't find enough here.

8. Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco

Pull out your hanky for this one, you'll need it. A heartwarming story of love and loss and reunion and belonging. Lovely.

9. Wombat Divine By Mem Fox

Because I am Australian, and it just wouldn't be Christmas without it.

10. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

A story of love and resilience, and the importance of family, perfectly illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

11. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

Everyone needs somebody to love. A magical book, again illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

12. The Christmas Eve Ghost by Shirley Hughes

Here's my review of this book.  You can hear Shirley Hughes talking about the book there as well.

13. Annika's Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis

A book that explains some of our family's Swedish Christmas traditions, including hiding the almond in the rice porridge. Love and family and making wishes and eating rice porridge, all washed down with gorgeous, intricate illustrations byPamela Querin make this a must-read.
She knew that the almond could bring smiles and laughter, but only God could make a miracle.
14. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Classic O Henry irony at its finest - an American short story classic. Beautifully illustrated by P J Lynch.

The magi, as you know, were wise men - wonderfully wise men - who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.

They are the magi.
15. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

This beautiful book about grief and healing, illustrated by the incomparable P J Lynch, never fails to ring a lump to my throat.

16. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.
A beautifully written book about imagination and believing.  Read it with a mug of hot cocoa and white nougat.

17. The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween by Ruth Sawyer

Quiet, peaceful and lyrical, best read aloud with a lilting Northern Irish accent, but okay in broad strine as well. Max Grafe's illustrations are beautiful. A magical Irish folk tale.

18. Angelina's Christmas by Katharine Holabird

We're not usually big fans of Angelina, but we make an exception for this one about a community celebrating Christmas together, and making it special for a lonely old man. Or is that mouse?

19. Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas by Alison Uttley

A sweet story with truly magical illustrations by Margaret Tempest.  Read my review and see some of those lovely pictures at the same time.

20. The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo

A little book to renew your faith in mankind. Heart warming and sentimental.  A tear jerker. Beautiful watercolours.


  1. Oh goodie, love when you post book lists:) Some familiar friends here and some newbies. and one dear friend 'The Christmas Eve Ghost' is thanks to you!

  2. Meant to say if you're after more Christmas titles I have lots here:)

  3. Hi Jeanne,
    I am hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling and I'm thinking of a book theme--can I include this post?

  4. The carnival is up now: http://deweystreehouse.blogspot.ca/2013/12/carnival-of-homeschooling-415-living.html . Thanks!

  5. You have not lived until you have read Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters!


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