Arts & Culture

Children’s Books: Christmas Stories to Read Together

TIMEDecember 15, 2021

What’s your favorite book to read with your children during the holidays? Here are some true-and-tested picks.

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‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ by Laurel Long (Dial Books)

The classic English Christmas carol that counts the gifts “my true love gave to me” over the course of 12 special days comes to life through the stunning oil paintings of Laurel Long in this beautiful book. As the familiar song cumulatively progresses and new gifts are added each day, the illustrations become more elaborate and readers can revel in searching for the hidden gifts in each.

Complete with a brief history of the well-known carol, along with sheet music, this version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a must-have and would make a wonderful gift as well.

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‘The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey’ by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch (Candlewick Press)

This is an absolute treasure. This beautifully written and illustrated Christmas tale depicts a journey of hope brought forth by the simple request of a young widow and her son to a “gloomy” woodcutter at Christmastime. While perhaps not as well-known as the other titles on this list, this one is not to be missed. Please note that the subject matter may be too heavy for little ones.

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‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Robert Ingpen (Penguin)

Regarding great literary classics, I prefer to present my children with the true and unabridged version rather than a watered-down approximation when possible. This is surely possible with Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” This edition features just enough illustrations to keep younger readers interested while providing the complete, masterfully written tale.

This pick calls for a greater investment of time and can be read chapter by chapter or enjoyed as an audiobook. You can find readings on Librivox.org for free or enjoy a particularly well-done recording by actor Tim Curry via iTunes. The audiobook would make a great accompaniment to any long drives to visit family this season.

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‘The First Christmas: A Changing-Picture Book’ by Sophy William (Templar Books)

A soft retelling of the Nativity, it is a beautifully illustrated summary of the fundamental meaning of Christmas and would provide the perfect basis for bedtime during the Christmas season.

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‘The Night Before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Ted Rand (North-South Books)

If there’s one book you simply must read this year, it’s this one—on Christmas Eve, of course.

While we have numerous versions of this on our shelves, this is my favorite, as it’s a sturdy board book that will stand the test of time and the illustrations are just right. Other noteworthy editions to look out for are Jan Brett’s and the nostalgic Little Golden Book publication illustrated by Corinne Malvern.

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‘Christmas in My Heart: Book 17,’ compiled and edited by Joe Wheeler (Pacific Press Publishing Association)

Every volume in the “Christmas in My Heart” series should be read (there are 27!), but No. 17 is extra special, for it republishes stories from the classic turn-of-the-20th century “St. Nicholas Magazine” for children. Heartwarming and wholesome, these stories will likely become a Christmas tradition in your family.

Barbara Danza
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout and the online editor of Chronicles Magazine, both projects of the Charlemagne Institute.