The Busy Mom’s Favorite Christmas Books 2016

It’s here! The most wonderful time of the year … to read!  Reading together is a favorite activity in our family, and over the years, reading aloud has become a cherished part of our family’s Christmas tradition.  I’ve spent years scoping out books at yard sales and thrift stores looking for hidden treasures to read to the kids. I won’t lie to you—I’ve also purchased some books that were total losers, and they ended right back where I found them.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I had a great response to the list of favorite Thanksgiving books last month, so I’ve compiled a few of our favorite Christmas books too, in case you needed some inspiration as you start or continue to build your own family library.
Remember, these books can be found at the library, thrift stores, eBay and a host of other places. If you’re like me, and you want to build a family library, make some room in your budget to purchase at least one or two every year. Those books will create their own special memories for you and your kids in the years to come.



Coupla’ things before you see the list: I think moms need to be sneaky if they’re gonna teach their children to love to read. Sneaky moms put books everywhere.

Would you like your children to read more? You can put your Christmas books into a basket and simply put them in a cozy spot, complete with couch pillows and throw blankets. Don’t be surprised when you find the kids going back to those baskets over and over again.

Some ideas:
You could wrap each one, then pull out one each day to unwrap as you count down the days.  You could pick a few favorites that lend themselves to great crafts and make a special day out of each one—or— you could grab a few that specifically teach about some of the traditions in your home.  Keep it simple, busy mom!  (Remember: Your kids won’t miss what you don’t create an expectation for.)

And for the record:
I don’t do most of that stuff I just suggested. (sorry.)  I just put books in cozy places all over the house and when the opportunity arises, we read. Voila! Take the pressure off and enjoy this literature-rich season with your children— toddlers, tweens and even teens.  Here are just a few of our family faves. Merry Christmas!

{This post contains affiliate links.}

Brand new for 2016:

Love Letters from GodChristmas Love Letters from God Bible Stories (A lift-the-flap book) –  I LOVE this new book from Zondervan. Written for children ages four to eight, Christmas Love Letters from God cleverly combines both prose and poetry as the story of Jesus’ birth unfolds. The book includes seven stories, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy and ending with the visit of the wise men. Following each story, the child will find his or her own letter from God, folded into a small envelope attached to the page. Each letter begins with a space in which to write the child’s name, so each one can be specially addressed to the child.

Written as if God is speaking, each personalized message gives the young reader a sense of wonder as they discover anew the Christmas holiday and the birth of Jesus. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Perfect Promise, also accompanies each story and letter as God’s personal words of love, promise, and hope.

This would make a great keepsake as it clearly gives the message of the gospel.

Goodnight, Manger – Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling Goodnight Mangerartist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth. It’s bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels’ joyful hosanas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it’s just too loud. Until Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars. With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the manger story.

Night of Great Joy – One of my favorite artists, Mary Engelbreit has created
, a delightful picture book that celebrates the joyful season of Christmas. This book tells the story of the nativity through the performance of a children’s Christmas pageant. With adorable illustrations and simple storytelling, Engelbreit paints a wonderful picture of the night that Jesus was born.

A Night of Great Joy recalls that fateful night with wonder and awe. From the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem to the gathering of many before the baby Jesus, this holiday treasure leads children through the tale of the birth of Jesus, guiding them with the star of Bethlehem.


Berenstain Bears Christmas Fun Sticker and Activity Book – I love all things Berenstain. This is a great early Christmas gift. The Berenstain Bears come to life this holiday season with puzzles, activity pages, and more than 50 reusable stickers in The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Fun Sticker and Activity Book.

Featuring Papa, Mama, Brother, Sister, and Honey and the rest of the Bear Country gang, kids are sure to find lots to do helping Honey Bear find the missing piece of the Bear family Nativity scene, doing crosswords and word searches with Brother and Sister, and even helping out at the Christmas Eve service at Chapel in the Woods.

One Wintry Night – A classic Christmas picture book, One Wintry Night tells the story of a mountain boy who is injured in a snowstorm and seeks refuge in a cabin. While he waits out the storm, the woman who lives there tells him the Christmas story. In a magnificent blend of a contemporary setting with the history of God’s redeeming love, Ruth Graham created a wonderful and unique version of the Christmas story. Breathtakingly illustrated by renowned artist Richard Jesse Watson, One Wintry Night is the perfect gift for the young and the young-at-heart that will fascinate both those who have heard the Bible story many times and those who know only a few details.

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend – This picture book presents a shortened version of the life of Saint Nicholas, explaining that Nicholas was a servant of God and that, through him, Gods love was reflected to others. The story touches on the ministry of Nicholas and his generous gift of a dowry to three young girls as a response to Gods love in Jesus.

grinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas – If you haven’t read this to your kids yet, get crackin’. This is a Christmas classic!  The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville’s holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers that the heart of Christmas is not found in “things.”

Come and see: A Christmas story – And they all come — shepherds and townsfolk, neighbors and strangers, grown-ups and children — to see and celebrate the child sleeping in the manger. A poetic text and glowing paintings retell this well-known story with a simplicity and richness that fill the heart with peace.

The Little Drummer Boy – A procession travels to Bethlehem, bringing gifts for the newborn baby Jesus. The little drummer boy comes along, although he is too poor to bring a present fit for a king. Instead, he plays a song on his drum for the Christ Child.

This Is the Star – This retelling of the Nativity story features carefully crafted verse describing the magical night, complemented by magnificent full-color oil paintings. This artwork is powerful and beautiful, showing how big the Christmas story really is. No mini angels here!

A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories – Celebrate the holidays with Laura and her family with stories from the beloved Little House books!

The Something Wonderful: A Christmas Story – In a little stable in Bethlehem, all the animals are eagerly planning for the Something Wonderful. No one knows exactly what or when it will be, but they are convinced a fancy celebration is required-complete with parade, party, food, and activities. Soon the animals are squabbling over details and forgetting the reason for the celebration. When a little lamb reminds the other animals what really matters-the Something Wonderful-everyone realizes it is time to be kinder to each other and patiently wait for the Something Wonderful to happen. And on one starry night, it does!

Christmas Trolls – Christmas is Treva’s favorite time of the year. But this year, decorations and presents are mysteriously disappearing. When Treva follows a small creature making off with the Christmas pudding, she discovers two irresistible trolls who want to have Christmas, but don’t understand it. Jan Brett has many Christmas season stories with beautiful and unique illustrations like this one!

Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas – Discover the true meaning of the holidays with Santa’s Favorite Story. It’s not about Santa – really!

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale – On a cold winter night, Kind Ox invites one visitor after another into the shelter of his stable–Old Dog, Stray Cat, and Small Mouse, who rest together in harmony. When Tired Donkey appears, he brings with him Mary and Joseph, and all of the animals welcome Jesus when He is born.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition – Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story – In Appalachia each Christmas, a boy named Frankie waits beside the tracks for the Christmas Train, which will bring presents to the children who live in coal towns and hollows. Year after year, Frankie hopes that one particular gift a very special gift will be tossed to him from that train. It is this enduring hope that will guide him to the true meaning of the season.

Night Tree – By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods.

The Wild Christmas Reindeer – Little Teeka thought she had to be firm with the reindeer to get them ready for Santa’s important flight, but when her bossy yelling only got their antlers tangled up, she knew she had to try something different.

favorite_buttonMany years ago, my family discovered a trilogy created just for advent. Believe me, you won’t want to read just one. The whole series is great!

Jotham’s Journey – In this widely popular, exciting story for the advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.

The highly anticipated follow-up to Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, is an engaging story that guides families through the Advent season. Young Bartholomew’s adventures start when Roman soldiers destroy his village and disperse his family, continue through his enslavement to a tyrannical master and his escape with his new friend Nathan, and end with a reunion with his family in Bethlehem. Along the way Bartholomew makes a new friend, a young boy named Jotham!

Tabitha’s Travels completes the trilogy. Curious, competent, and courageous Tabitha is the daughter of a shepherd who is taking his family on caravan to his birthplace. Along the way, she meets and becomes friends with Jotham and Bartholomew, watches as Romans take her father prisoner, spends time with Zechariah and Elizabeth, helps Mary and Joseph just before Christ s birth, and ends her travels at the stable in Bethlehem.










Christmas reads for grown-ups

The Christmas Box was given to me as a gift several years ago. It’s a beautiful little story that is just the right length to read in a single sitting, with or without your children. I’d call it a modern-day classic, if “they” let me do that sort of thing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry—you’ll be changed. Powerful, powerful reading.

Christmas Stories  – I’m a sap for pretty much anything written by Max Lucado, and this is one of my faves. It’s filled with short(er) stories of Christmas, and, because Max has a style all his own, you’ll soon be wanting to read the next story and the next and the next.   These stories—like your favorite Christmas ornaments—come in all shapes and sizes. They unfold in a variety of settings, from ancient Bethlehem to rural England. From a small Texas town to the heavenly realms. Some are short. Others many chapters long. Some offer reflections. Others imagine Christmas through the eyes of a burnt-out candle maker, a lonely business man, or heavenly angels.

Yet all are vintage Lucado, and all resonate with the wonder of the season.



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Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John

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16 Responses to The Busy Mom’s Favorite Christmas Books 2016

  1. Jessica V. says:

    Thank you for these!! We are a homeschooling family of four (and growing!) and these suggestions are perfect. Last year when I tried to reserve Christmas books from our library (through their website) all the good ones were gone, I did it too late in the season- but not this year, mwhaha! Thanks for posting this now!

  2. Susan Girdner says:

    This year, we are reading the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.Finding Him in the story.

  3. Sherri M. says:

    I would like to recommend another adult book to you – The Modern Magi by Carol Lynn Pearson. It is a delightful story that can be read in one sitting. I read it each Christmas, then have a tradition of handing it to different friends to read. I think you would like it.

  4. Diane Allen says:

    I second every suggestion! I would like to additionally recommend a couple of adult Christmas reads, both by Jan Karon. I love the little Mitford Snowman book and I also like the full length, Shepherds Abiding. For those unfamiliar with Jan Karon’s Father Tim Series you might want to use this coming year to catch up on the story. My homeschooled daughter and I enjoyed the entire series over a year while traveling for soccer. These are books to be savored.

    One children’s book that never makes anyone’s list, but remains one of my children’s all-time favorite is The Christmas Barn by C. L. Davis which is a memoir set in NC. For younger children there is Christmas In The Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. This was a long forgotten favorite of my own childhood until I found an older copy at a book sale. The illustrations alone make this a keeper.

    • Heidi says:

      Oh! I loved The Christmas Barn! I’ll add it. Thank you Diane! I’ll check out the Mitford Snowman book too. These are great! Merry Christmas. :)

  5. Carrie S says:

    My favorite Christmas book of all time is The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. I read it aloud to the kids every Christmas (and I always cry). I own a precious edition printed in 1901, but I’ve bought it again and again for friends. 3 years ago my oldest daughter and I hosted a cookie exchange, pajama/bedtime story party. We supplied the hot cider and hot chocolate and a hot cranberry cider and invited moms and their daughters to come in pjs with blankets and pillows. (it even snowed that evening!) We asked everyone to bring 4 dozen cookies with multiple copies of the recipes and a snack to share. We exchanged the cookies and everyone went home with a wonderful assortment and the recipes, we ate wonderful snacks, and then gathered in the living room with only candles and Christmas lights and I read The Other Wise Man aloud to everyone and then we surprised everyone with their own copy to take home! One of the best Christmas events we’ve ever had. We’ll do it again when my 2nd daughter is older. Anyway, if you haven’t read The Other Wise Man, check it out. But make sure you get a copy with the Introduction in it as it adds a lot to the story! Enjoy!

  6. Amy says:

    Thank you for this great list of wonderful books! I reserved several of them from the library! One we’re reading now w/ the kids is: The Quiet Little Woman – A Christmas Story by Louisa May Alcott (and we just watched the DVD of “Little Women” last night! My favorite Christmas movie of all times!) =) Merry Christmas!

  7. Pam S says:

    This year another book has been added to the advent series with Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha. It’s about Ishtar who experiencing the advent from the perspective of the wise men. So far, it’s excellent!

  8. Alison says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! Now it’s time to add to the kids’ Christmas book stash!

  9. Kelsey says:

    Have you ever read “The First Christmas Night” by Keith Christopher? It’s got the same cadence/feel to it as the classic “twas the night before Christmas”, but it’s about the REAL Christmas, and the illustrations are oil paintings and they’re gorgeous! My two year old loves loves it. It’s a favorite bedtime story, Christmastime or not [:

    Here’s the link to the book on Amazon, just so we know we’re talking about the same book:

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