Looking for the best Christmas books for kids?
There's something for everyone in my list of the Top 10 Very Best Christmas Books for kids.
All these books should be available at your local library or, if you'd like to buy one (or a couple), at your favourite book shop.
If you prefer buying online, the Book Depository has a great selection. Just click on one of the book covers on this page to be taken to the site.
Starting a special library of Christmas books is a lovely way of getting kids involved in your family's preparations for Christmas. Why not start one for your family?
Babies love this bright, colourful book full of clear pictures of all things Christmassy. There's a snowman, a stocking and lots more. A perfect gift for baby's first Christmas, whether the baby is your own or a family member or friend.
Recommended for ages: birth - 18 months
This book gets my vote as one of the best Christmas books for kids and adults alike. It's about Slinki Malinki, the 'rapscallion cat' of an earlier, equally good book by Lynley Dodd:
'Christmas was coming. Out came the tree,
dressed up in finery, splendid to see.
Trinkets and tinsel with baubles and bows,
a mouse with a hat and a very red nose.'
Needless to say, the mischievous Slinky Malinki can't resist the temptation to investigate the Christmas tree ...
Recommended for ages: birth - 5 years
Little ones love Spot, the cute little puppy who stars in a series of lift-the-flap books. In this lovely board book, Spot finds out about Christmas trees, carol-singers and presents from Father Christmas. One of the best Christmas books for littlies around.
Recommended for ages: 6 months - 2 years
This is a delightful and very Australian Christmas story by much-loved Aussie children's author, Mem Fox. Wombat is just gorgeous and the story of how he so desperately wants to be in the Christmas nativity play and what happens when he tries out will enchant both children and adults.
Recommended for ages: 2 - 5 years (and adults!)
If you'd like to read about how Mem Fox came to write Wombat Divine, click here.
Alfie is a gorgeous three- or four-year-old who lives in England, goes to nursery school (kindergarten) and has a little sister called Annie-Rose. Shirley Hughes has written and illustrated a whole series of books about Alfie and his family and they're all utterly charming. My three kiddos loved them when they were small and they're still hugely popular with children today. Alfie's Christmas tells the story of a very traditional English Christmas and is a really delightful book to share with little ones.
Recommended for ages: 3 - 6 years
Even if you're not religious, you may like to introduce your child with the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus as a way of building background knowledge. If so, this book would be a great way to do it. It's basically a straight forward retelling of the Biblical account of the Christmas Story, with simple, carefully-written sentences and endearing illustrations by artist Roger Langton.
Recommended for ages: 4 - 8 years
This is one of the best Christmas books to share with older kids. It's not the kids' version or the Disney version of this classic story - this is the real, grown-up original story first published in 1843. I've included it here because it's not a very long book and it makes a wonderful story to read aloud to older kids - even to teenagers - during the lead-up to Christmas. Yes, the language is old-fashioned but children really do need to hear this sort of writing. It increases their vocabularies and gets their imaginations working.
You're probably already familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean, miserable, bitter old man with no friends. One cold Christmas Eve, three ghosts take him on a scary journey to show him the error of his nasty ways. With the ghosts, he visits his past, present and his future and learns to love Christmas and the people all around him.
This book comes with a fun introduction by the best-selling English author Anthony Horowitz who wrote the Alex Rider books.
Even if your older kids turn their noses up at the idea of being read to, try and get them to give it a go with this one. Snuggle up together and hopefully they'll soon be engrossed in the story.
Recommended for ages: 10 and up
Noo list of the best Christmas books would be complete without 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. This well-known story-poem was originally written by Clement C Moore and published anonymously in a New York newspaper in 1823 under the title A Visit from St Nicholas. The poem has been published in different forms over the years but I really love this version which first came out in 1912. The original illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith are absolutely perfect for this poem which is, after all, now nearly 200 years old.
I found out an interesting fact when I was doing the research for this page. Did you know that this poem is actually responsible for introducing Santa Claus to American children? Before it was published, Saint Nicholas wasn't really known much outside Germany however the poem became popular pretty much as soon as it was first printed and the legend of Saint Nicholas, who gave presents to children, wore a red suit and travelled in a sleigh pulled by reindeers quickly spread throughout the English-speaking world.
Some families make reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas together on Christmas Eve a special Christmas tradition. You can read a free copy of A Visit from St Nicholas here.
Recommended for ages: birth - adult
This is a beautifully-illustrated picture book suitable for older children and even for adults. The book tells the story of a letter found in an antique desk by a man who sets out to return it to the lady to whom it was written. The letter was written in the trenches of World War I by a young man to his wife. In the letter, the man tells the story of what happened between the German and the allied soldiers on Christmas Eve in 1914. A great story, with lovely artwork from Michael Foreman.
Recommended for ages: 5 - adult
This is a beautiful hard-cover book, suitable for reading aloud to younger children or for older children to read themselves. If you're looking for a book of Christmas-themed short stories and poems to keep in the family and read every year at Christmas time, this is worth considering.
This "heirloom edition" book includes:
Christian Birmingham's illustrations are gorgeous!
Recommended for ages: 8 to adult
When J R R Tolkein's eldest son, John, was three years old in 1920, the first of the Father Christmas letters arrived, addressed from the North Pole. For over twenty years, John and his brothers and sister received a letter every Christmas, written in Father Christmas's shaky script and illustrated with paintings and sketches. The letters told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole ... how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house ...
This book is quite a find. I didn't know it existed and was delighted to come across it recently by chance. Originally titled The Father Christmas Letters, the book was republished under its current title in 2004. The new edition is edited by Baillie Tolkein, the wife of J R R Tolkein's youngest son, Christopher. This book is one of the best Christmas books to share with your children. Each letter is a nice length to be read as a bedtime story to younger children and the drawings and funny stories are enchanting for adults and children alike. Older children who are fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will recognise some familiar elements ... the goblin attack on Father Christmas's cellar reminds me of the Goblin-Elf wars and his elf-secretary Ilbereth is probably the model for the elf-queen Elbereth.
Recommended for ages: 4 to adult
Horrible Christmas is a book about Christmas traditions and customs and where they came from. It will appeal to children aged from about four years right up to adults but will probably hold a special fascination for kids in the 5-10 age group. In fact, I rate it as one of the best Christmas books for this age group. All the customs and traditions which surround the Christian celebration of Christmas are explained but the information is served up in a wacky format with some silly (and just-plain-weird) stories thrown in. The illustrations are hilarious and the format's great too - short anecdotes and quizzes with lots of illustrations. This makes it easy to read a bit here and there whenever it suits you - perfect if you have a child who perhaps isn't a very keen reader.
Included are things like:
Some hardcover editions of the book include a CD called Curious Carols. With or without the CD, this is a great Christmas book for kids.
Recommended for ages: 4 to adult