How do you find new Christmas picture books? Do you scan the library shelves for reindeer and Santas? Do you peruse the featured shelves at bookstores in November and December? Or maybe you just wing it and rely on the books you are already familiar with.
It can be overwhelming, keeping up with all the new children's books published every year. Add in trying to find the ones worth reading, much less buying and it's easy to just pull out How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the umpteenth time.
This list will help you with your quest for magical new Christmas books to read to your children as they cozy up with hot cocoa and visions of sugarplums.
I update this list each year with handful of favorites and hidden gems. So trim the tree, hang up a few paper snowflakes and start your Christmas reading!
Note: this list contains Amazon and Bookshop affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may earn a commission for this blog. Bookshop also supports independent bookstores.
The Twelve Hours of Christmas by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Bea Jackson
This refreshing retelling of the classic Christmas song celebrates family. During the first hour of Christmas, Santa leaves a kitten. For the rest of the lively tale (which you won't be able to resist singing!), readers will love to spot the clever feline in the illustrations. Utterly delightful!
Lullaby for the King by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Michelle Carlos
In this gorgeous nativity book, the focus is on a parade of animals, both exotic and ordinary, and their journey to meet the new King. The story begins with the animals learning of the birth. They parade over long distances, bringing gifts of music, perfume and luxury. Grimes is a poet and her text is lyrical, moving and peaceful. Looking for a a nativity picture book? This is the one you need.
How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Dynamic duo Barnett and Klassen are back with a hilarious picture book that ponders the eternal Christmas conundrum. How exactly does Santa fit down the chimney? There is much speculation. Some of it hilarious, some outrageous and some impossible. Which answer will your kids choose?
The Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore, illustrated by Kitty Moss.
Find it: Amazon
In recent years, the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood has become more widely known. On Christmas Eve in Iceland families give books to each other and then spend the rest of the evening reading. What's not to love about that! Well, now you can add Jolabokaflod to your family's holiday celebration by reading this joyous, rhyming, beautifully illustrated new Christmas book!
MORE: Timeless Christmas Books
The Real Santa by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Charnell Pinkney Barlow.
I adore this sweet and cozy Christmas book, which imparts the magical wonder of believing in Santa. A boy sees so many versions of Santa–on ornaments, figurines, wrapping paper, books, etc. He wonders which version truly reflects what Santa looks like so he comes up with a plan to find out. One of my favorite parts is all the outfits the extended family members don! Christmas sweaters and matching PJs enhance the cozy feeling.
The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel by Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Tony Neal
Find it: Amazon
This is a marvelous book to read aloud! So much fun to do the voices! A frog shows up at the home of a bear thinking it is the Christmas Extravaganza Hotel. The bear tells him he is not at the right place but invites him in. He takes a look at the brochure the frog has and tries to make the frog's Christmas experience live up to the crazy activities in the brochure. Both frog and bear have a delightful time and forge a new, lifelong friendship. Super duper fun as well as heartwarming.
MORE: Funniest Christmas Books
This is Christmas by Tom Booth
Find it: Amazon
A cute little chipmunk wants to know what Christmas is. “What is Christmas, Mama?” he asks. His mother then takes him on a tour through the landscape. Little chipmunk sees the activity around him, like geese singing, and badgers decorating and each time he asks him mama, "Is this Christmas?" She answers yes, each thing is a part of Christmas. At the end, on Christmas morning, the chipmunk experience the community celebrating and the joyful understanding of what Christmas is truly all about.
Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne
The illustrations in this book are gorgeous! The text is the classic Christmas song, and you may not be able to resist singing as you go along. The cast of characters is diverse, and Mary and Joseph are depicted with dark skin. I love the boldness of the black sky and the overall serene feeling of the book. Even if your family celebrates a secular Christmas, this is a beautiful book to share and teach the story of the Christ child story.
Construction Site on Christmas Night by Sherri Duskey Rinker
I don't think there is much chance you will miss this latest Christmas installation in the very popular Construction Site picture book series. However, the series has been a good friend to my youngest son and so I include it here, not just for him, but because I am certain your children will also enjoy it.
Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo
Find it: Amazon
This is a beautiful, poetic new Christmas picture book that will put you in a lovely, serene mood just in time for the chaos of Christmas morning. The action is narrated by a migrating robin who wishes to get home. Along the way he encounters difficult weather and choppy seas, but gets help from a kind human. The end note gives information about the migration habits of the Scandinavian robin, which migrates at Christmastime each year.
Last Stop on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck, illustrated by Karl James Mountford
A magical, mysterious mailbox sends the bespectacled Mia on an adventure to meet up with her grandpa during the Christmas season. The book is a charming, interactive experience: flaps to lift, doors to open and die cut pages to wonder at. Great fun and very inventive.
Waltz of the Snowflakes by Elly MacKay
This beautiful, wordless Christmas picture book is a lovely story that is perfect to read in tandem with your yearly trek to see The Nutcracker. At first, a girl does not want to get dressed up to go out in nasty weather to the ballet. But once she arrives, the magic takes over. She and her mother sit next to a boy and his father and the children's faces light up at the stage action. Gorgeously illustrated double page spreads capture the magic of the show.
The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen
This Christmas story is adorable. Ollie loves reindeer! She wears a little reindeer suit and carries around a stuffed toy. On Christmas Eve she hears jingle bells and goes outside to investigate! What does she find? A magical adventure and a reindeer, of course! Sweet and lovely!
Presents Through the Window by Taro Gomi
Find it: Amazon
My son loved the quirky humor in this Christmas book! Santa heads out in his helicopter to deliver presents. He is in a hurry and he peeks through the windows to make sure he delivers gifts to the correct recipients. But he doesn't exactly get things right! Clever die-cut pages add to the fun and giggles. Don't worry! Everything goes right in the end.
Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
On Christmas Eve, José's family is getting ready for a big dinner, but when the roast won't fit in the oven, José and Papi ask for help from the local pizzeria. On their way they notice that their neighbors are not feeling the Christmas spirit. But once the roast is finally ready, the delicious smell brings everyone together to recapture the true spirit of the holidays. A wonderful, diverse celebration of a book!