You've got the Christmas tree decorated, a fire crackling, a hot mug of cocoa with marshmallows. Is there anything that could make this scene more perfect? A Christmas audiobook, of course! Snuggling up with a good holiday read aloud book is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my kids during the festive season. However, sometimes it's nice to give your voice a break and listen to some professional actors narrate a classic Christmas tale, or a new Yuletide story.
Christmas Audiobooks for the Whole Family
Here's a collection of the best Christmas audiobooks the whole family can enjoy. I've listed them in a rough order from books that will be enjoyed by the youngest members of the household, to those that teens will enjoy, too. Happy listening! (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
Tumtum and Nutmeg: A Christmas Adventure
Written by Emily Bearn. Read by Bill Wallis.
This adorable story about two mice who are busy getting ready to create a wonderful Christmas is adorable. It is also perfect for preschool aged children, but elementary aged kids will get into it too.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Written by Barbara Robinson. Read by C. J. Critt.
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.
Letters from Father Christmas
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Narrated by Derek Jacobi and others.
What a delight this narration is! Tolkien wrote a letter each year to his children in the voice of Father Christmas and they are all collected in this volume. If you've never listened to Tolkien's whimsical tales of Santa, his accident-prone polar bear, mischievous goblins, reindeer and more you are in for a real treat!
Enid Blyton's Christmas Stories
Written by Enid Blyton. Read by Jilly Bond
The stories in this collection were first published in the 1940-60s in magazines and anthologies. Because they are self-contained stories rather than a long novel, they are perfect old-fashioned family tales to listen to in short snippets without the concern of having to stop at a suspenseful cliff-hanger!
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Written by Karina Glaser. Read by Robin Miles.
It is just before Christmas and the Vanderbeekers are going to be forced to move from their beloved Harlem brownstone unless they can change the mind of their grumpy landlord who just happens to be their upstairs neighbors. This creative, bi-racial family sets to work to win him over in this appealing and heartwarming story the whole family will adore!
The Last Holiday Concert
Written by Andrew Clements. Narrated by Fred Berman.
Clements writes wonderful school stories which are very easy to listen to as audiobooks. Plus they are always funny. Fifth grader Hart gets in trouble for pinging a rubber band at the choir director. Then, in a turn of events, the class votes him interim choir director after the loss of their teacher due to funding issues. Hart's experience trying to get his classmates to rehearse and perform a concert gives him a new respect (as you might imagine!) for his teacher and he also works to prove to the school board why they should reinstate the choir budget.
A Boy Called Christmas
Written by Matt Haig. Read by Stephen Fry.
My son adored this book, very funny and charming with just the right amount of Dahl-esque humor. When Nikolas' father doesn't return from a journey at the expected time, Nikolas leaves his neglectful aunt and goes off in search of him. Along the way he meets a village of elves and his future is forever changed. I also recommend the companion Christmas audiobooks, The Girl Who Saved Christmas and Father Christmas and Me read by Carey Mulligan and Natascha McElhone, respectively.
Written by Michelle Houts. Read by Amy McFadden.
An entire novel about nisser! A nisse is the Danish version of tomte (you will find lots of tomten on my list of Swedish Christmas and holiday books), a small creature in Scandinavian folklore who looks after the farm. Families are supposed to leave the nisse a traditional bowl of Christmas pudding on the eve of the holiday, but this year, Bettina's family is beset by troubles and they forget the pudding. In a fit of mischief, the local nisse, Klakke, steals the family baby! Bettina sets out into the woods to find her sister and encounters more mythological creatures and adventure in this tale of magic and kindness. Break out the pepparkakor because you will love this story.
Written by Caleb Zane Huett. Read by Kirby Heyborne.
When Santa announces he's finished with the business of chimneys, reindeer and presents, he declares that he will hold a competition to select the next Santa Claus. Elves Ollie and Celia decide to apply for the job and enter the Santa Trials, 10 contests which consist of vast quantities of cookie consumption, sliding down narrow chimneys and more. Kids may enjoy the humor and story more than adults, but still quite the adventure.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
Written by L. F. Baum. Narrated by B. J. Harrison.
The author of The Wizard of Oz tells the origin story of St. Nicholas from birth to old age. Baum crafts wonderful stories to explain traditions like hanging up stockings, why Santa goes down the chimney and how he becomes immortal. Highly inventive and very festive! I also like this version narrated by Johnny Heller. You can listen to the two samples on Audible to determine which you prefer.
A Season of Gifts
Written by Richard Peck. Read by Ron McLarty.
We have loved reading aloud Peck's other books in the Long Road to Chicago series. The eccentric force-of-nature that is Grandma Dowdel gets new neighbors, the Barnhart family, headed by a Methodist minister. Grandma Dowdel is just the right combination of kindness and irreverence and Peck's brand of old-fashioned humor is perfect for families. Loads of fun!
Written by Kate Milford. Narrated by Chris Henry Coffey.
Milo lives with his adoptive parents in a strange and mysterious smugglers' inn. During the holiday break a series of guests arrive, all with a secret connection to the inn. The adventure begins when Milo finds a curious map and things begin to go missing. He and his friend, Maddy determined to find the culprit behind the thefts start to unravel the mystery tied to the house and its guests. This book has atmosphere creeping out of every nook and cranny!
The Cricket on the Hearth
Written by Charles Dickens. Narrated by Jim Dale.
Listen to Dickens' less famous Victorian Christmas tale! And narrated by the great Jim Dale, nonetheless. Dale, you might know became a household name after narrating the Harry Potter series. If you'd like to introduce your kids to Dickens' wonderful use of language and storytelling style but they aren't exactly ready for Bleak House, this is a fun story for the Christmas season. A cricket lives on the hearth of the poor Peerybingle family and acts as their Guardian Angel. A mysterious stranger comes to stay with the Peerybingle family and the plot undergoes a series of Dickensian turns of events.
A Christmas Carol
Written by Charles Dickens. Narrated by Tim Curry.
What do I need to tell you about this timeless Christmas story that you don't already know! Perhaps I can entice you to listen by mentioning that this version is narrated by the great Tim Curry! Listen to the tale of Christmas Past, Present and Future, the bah humbugs of Scrooge, the merry family gathering of the Cratchets, the redemption of a miser and join in with Tiny Tim at the end shouting, "God bless us every one!"
A Literary Christmas
Written by various authors. Narrated by Juliet Stevenson and Simon Callow.
Got only older kids and teens who are experiences listeners or what something more sophisticated to listen to? Try this anthology of Christmas themed tales and excerpts written by classic authors. Authors include Jane Austen, Samuel Pepys, Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling and more. Each bit of narration can be listened to independently, and depending on your taste, you may decide to skip certain selections, with no great damage to the whole audio experience. Worth trying out if you like a mix of everything!
More Christmas tales: