Saying a phrase like “Top Christmas Picture Books” feels almost as tough as saying “my favorite movie is….” It’s too hard! But here at Learning Well Community, we are all about making everything we do as homeschool parent count! I’ve realized this year that by pairing our top Christmas picture books with our advent activities is making it even more rich and full and enchanting.
And we could all use a little more enchantment, right?
There’s so much during the month of December that we want to do and enjoy with our kids. There’s baking and gift-making and puzzles, and doing some good for others and more! A long time ago, I was overwhelmed with all that I wanted to do with my kids, so I did the most natural thing: I made a list.
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I listed all the things I wanted to do with my kids. Go to the Nutcraker ballet. See our favorite production of The Christmas Carol. Make Gingerbread houses. Deliver packages to neighbors.
When I had my list of things, I assigned one thing to each of the first 24 days of December based on what was going on in our schedule. Whatever wasn’t our TOP FAVORITE things to do, didn’t make the list. I’ve found that having one thing per day is about right–any more than that and things get a little squished.
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This has worked great for many years. Not every year is perfect, but mostly I feel like we have a really great advent season together as a family and do our favorite traditions without feeling like we’ve just ran around like crazy people for a month and not actually done anything we wanted to do!
To add a twist of mystery and fun to our advent activities, I started putting scraps of paper into little boxes or envelopes, one per day, to tell the kids what we’re doing that day. It’s been a fun tradition that my kids love.
A bunch of tiny envelopes on a string of twine with tiny clothes pins has worked great this year and last.
But wait. Isn’t this post about Christmas picture books?
Hang on! I’m getting there, I promise!
Top Christmas Picture Books for your Advent Activities
What I’ve realized this year that pairing those advent activities with our favorite Christmas picture books has made those activities 10x more meaningful. It takes a tad more planning on my part, but I’ll be honest–it is SO much fun for me to plan out our advent, it doesn’t even feel like work at all.
We wrap a book a day leading up to Christmas. You definitely don’t have to though. There were several years I didn’t. But now that I have a preschooler, I’m happy to do it again.
Sometime in late-November, I will make a list of our advent activities while looking at our schedule and our family calendar. Then I’ll spread out all our favorite Christmas picture books and pair those with the activities we have going on. I line them all up with sticky notes with the date and wrap them up! It’s a great after-bedtime activity with a cup of tea and a movie!
I printed off these great tags for free from this post.
Before you think that this plan works perfectly, know that it does not! The day I planned on making gingerbread houses might have been filled with an impromptu sledding party and that’s ok! We’ll either scrap it or move it to another day–and I’m totally fine with that!
Below you’ll find our list of top Christmas picture books as well as a TON of great selections from you guys–our readers! Many we’ve never heard of and I’ll be adding to our library and book store list.
Picture Books about Christmas Trees
Save these books for the day you go pick up your Christmas tree or bring it up from the basement to decorate.
O Christmas Tree by Debbie Trafton O’Neal
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston
Reader Picks: Christmas Tree books
- A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
- Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider
- The Great Spruce by John Duvall
- Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
Top Christmas Picture Books for Baking Day + Gingerbread House Building
The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth
The Baker’s Dozen by Heather Forest
Reader Picks! For Baking Day
- Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher by Robert Kraus
- Mr. Cookie Baker
- Sheila Rae’s Peppermint Stick
- Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
Picture Books for Christmas Magic
My favorite category! These are the books for any day during the magical Christmas season.
The Christmas Song: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire by Mel Torme –One of my most favorite Christmas songs!
Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett
Santa Mouse by Michael Brown
The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg
The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert — The photography in this book is amazing. Even sweeter that we were able to meet the author and the main character at a book signing one year!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
The Story of Holly + Ivy by Rumer Godden
Poetry Books for Christmas
Christmas Poems by Myra Cohn Livingston
A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates — A fun Christmas book that will have you rhyming in “pirate!”
Julie Andrew’s Treasury of Poems for All Seasons — This collection is our all-time favorite poetry book.
Christmas Performances + Books
Each year we try to make it to at least one Christmas performance. We’ve been to many, but our favorites are The Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker ballet. Here’s some books you can read to enhance these fun performances.
The Nutcracker by John Cech — We love this version of the story because of the amazing illustrations.
The Story Orchestra: Nutcracker — One of our very favorites. Listen to pieces of the of the movements on each page.
Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann — An extended version of the story that would be great as a family read aloud.
A Christmas Carol (Picture Book)
A Christmas Carol (unabridged) by Charles Dickens
St. Nicholas Picture Books
We started celebrating St. Nicholas Day when our neighbors from Germany turned us onto this tradition. These books make it even more meaningful.
Reader Picks: Santa Picture Books
Religious + Nativity Christmas Books
The reason for the season! These books are great to read as Christmas Day approaches.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas — New to us last year and has become such a treasure already.
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola — A great book to pair with a pretty poinsettia project and some Mexican hot cocoa.
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Carmn Bernier-Grand — This feast day is on December 12th
Lucia Morning in Sweden — Such a great tradition and story. It’s celebrated on December 13th, but can be read at any time.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
Come to the Cradle by Michael Card
Reader Picks: Nativity and Religious Stories
- Jotham’s Journey
- Bartholomew’s Passage
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
- Father Christmas and the Donkey
More Reader Picks!
- Cranberry Christmas
- The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-a-Ween
- Who is Coming to Our House?
- Shall I Knit You a Hat?
- Keeping Holiday
- On That Night
- The Family Under the Bridge (great read aloud idea!)
- Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck
- A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
- Apple Tree Christmas
- The Mark of the Maker
- The Return of the Light: 12 Tales from Around the World about Winter Solstice
- The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas
- The Adventure of Christmas
- Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
- On Christmas Eve by Margaret Wise Brown
- Christmas Farm
Advent Enchantment with Top Books
Christmas picture books are such a huge part of our Christmas traditions. Pairing them with our advent activities is just icing on the cake. Because I want our home library to be a place of joy and enchantment, I don’t want to buy just any book to add clutter to our shelves. That’s why the books on this list are only our favorites. The readers here at Learning Well Community are so awesome, I have to trust their judgement too and have added many of their picks to my Christmas book wishlist.