Do you enjoy a good family read aloud book during the Christmas season? These Christmas chapter books may be just the thing to bring everybody together with a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies. This book list meant as a complementary list to my winter themed chapter books. Please do take a look at that list if you want further reading suggestions that will evoke snowy scenes, but not necessarily Christmas fun.
I’ve purposely chosen a mix of classic and contemporary books that are set during the Christmas season, rather than famous books with Christmas scenes, such as Little Women. These are also books I feel will appeal as family read alouds. A lot of chapter book series (like Magic Tree House, for example) have a Christmas themed installment, but they don’t tend to be books the grown-ups in the family will enjoy listening to with the same enthusiasm as the kids! (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
UPDATE: Supplement this list with our list of Holiday Chapter Books to Read Aloud
Christmas Read Alouds for the Whole Family to Enjoy
When Santa Fell To Earth is a fun story by stellar author Cornelia Funke (of Inkheart fame). We listened to the audiobook of this quirky story about what happens when Niklas Goodfellow, the last real Santa, crash-lands after one of his reindeer gets freaked by a storm. Gerold Geronimus Goblynch, the leader of the Great Christmas Council is determined to put a stop to the Christmas fun. Niklas, with the help of a few children tries to outwit Goblynch and save the magic of the holiday. Although this book is not nearly as good as Inkheart, I love Funke’s ability to write evocative descriptive detail. Great fun.
When I was a kid, a copy of Letters From Father Christmas always sat under our Christmas tree and I loved to read the letters that Tolkien wrote to his kids every year. I first read the book at the time when I was straddling the line between believing in the Santa who brought me gifts and the one that only lived in stories. The letters which detail the North Pole exploits of Santa and his sidekick Polar Bear, the elves and goblins who share their world are accompanied by Tolkien’s imaginative illustrations. Magical.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a modern American classic! The misbehaving Herdman kids – they smoke, steal, play pranks and swear! — decide to take over the church’s Christmas pageant. Hilarious hijinks ensue and the Herdman kids reimagine a story they’ve never heard before (the birth of Jesus), but in the end it is the Herdmans’ interpretation of the Christmas story that teaches the community the true meaning of the holiday. Hilarious and touching.
The Box of Delights is a British classic but is not well known on this side of the pond, which is a shame. I first share the book on my classics from the 1940s book list and found it to be… well, a delight. Kay Harkin meets a strange man on a train. The man gives him a mysterious, magical box which has the ability to shrink people, allow them to time travel and even make them fly. Kay and his friends must protect the box from the villains who also want to do away with Christmas. Some people have complained about abridged versions floating around out there, but this NYCB version is not abridged. A delightful adventure.
My almost 6 year old has listened to The Last Holiday Concert on audiobook several times in the past two weeks. Personally I think it may be better for 7 and up, since the protagonists are all sixth graders, but there is certainly nothing worrisome in the content. Clements (author of the very popular Frindle) has an uncanny ability to capture the school environment. In this story, Nicolas and his music teacher have a small run in which leads to the teacher handing over the reigns of the holiday concert to the students. Nicolas must learn how to be a leader, while the teacher (who has recently found out that budget cuts will terminate his job next year) learns a bit of flexibility. A great story that highlights relationship dynamics and cooperation.
MORE: See our favorite audiobooks for kids.
Nancy and Plum. This 1952 book from the author of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (one of your favorite chapter books) is the perfect recipe for an old-fashioned read aloud: two orphaned sisters, an unctuous boarding school mistress who feeds them hard oatmeal, a wealthy bachelor uncle, a Christmas setting and a feel good ending in which the bad fail and the good triumph.
The Family Under the Bridge. At Christmas time in Paris, Armand, a self-proclaimed hobo who loves his responsibility-free life, takes a homeless family under his protection. The children wish for a home for Christmas. Armand makes their wish come true, and in doing so he decides it might not be so bad to have permanent ties after all.
In The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum, tells the origin story of St. Nicholas from birth to old age. Baum invents wonderful stories to explain traditions like hanging up stockings. This is the book that the stop motion TV Special The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is based on. I have actually never seen that TV Special, but it apparently is still aired by ABC every year. We’ve been listening to the audiobook, Santa Claus in Oz, which also includes Baum’s short story, “A Kidnapped Santa Claus”. You can find both the 1902 book and the 1904 story free online at Project Gutenberg, but those editions are missing the original illustrations, which is a shame.
Read Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol with kids who will no longer be frightened by the idea of ghosts. I was always a little freaked by this book until I was a teenager, but your children may be different, especially if you are one of the thousands of families who go to see a stage production of the tale during the holiday season. A holiday classic.
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