Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Let’s talk about classic Christmas books to read aloud to your family this holiday season!
There’s something about long wintery evenings (maybe because it gets dark at 4 pm) that begs for a cheery fire, some cozy slippers, hot cocoa, and a stack of books as high as the mantle.
And there’s nothing better than reading a classic and beloved book together with your family. You will all take in the same beloved story at the same pace, enjoying the thrills and despairs along with the characters who will come to feel like part of the family.
Here ten of my favorite classic Christmas books to read aloud as a family. Bookmark this list if you’re stuck looking for your next holiday story time tale!
10 Classic Christmas Books to Read Aloud
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1. A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Don’t be afraid of the fact that A Christmas Carol is A) a “classic” and/or B) written so long ago. The prose isn’t too difficult for children to understand, it’s not overly long, and the story itself is absolutely timeless.
Especially good if you can time it out so the last chapter is on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so you can feel Scrooge’s elation at not having missed the holiday after all.
I recommend following it up with the very best (IMO) movie version with George C. Scott. It’s wonderfully faithful, delightfully spooky, and hits all the right notes.
2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
By Barbara Robinson
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a tiny little novel perfect for kids of all ages, especially if they’ve ever performed in a small town nativity, or are active in their church.
The Herdman children (“the worst children in the history of the world”) have decided to join the church’s Christmas pageant, mostly because they heard there would be free snacks.
I mean, some of us have gone to church for worse reasons, am I right?
While the other kids look on in horror, and the adults are nervously hiding their hams and hoping the building doesn’t get hit by lightening… your children will be laughing hysterically. Of course, it’s the Herdmans who end up teaching the whole town a lesson in love, but it’s the getting there that’s all the fun.
3. Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book
By Molly Rockwell
I grew up with Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book, which Mom pulled out every Christmas, and felt very grown-up indeed to acquire my own copy to read to my kids.
The very best reason in the whole world to own this compilation of stories, poems, recollections, and carols is just to get your hands on Ogden Nash’s poem, The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus. It’s a hilariously witty poem, written in classic Nash tongue-in-cheek style, and whether or not you are a Santa believer, you will adore it.
Other excellent ones to read aloud from this book: Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Worst Christmas Story, by Christopher Morley, The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, Christmas Greetings From a Fairy to a Child, by Lewis Carroll, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, by Francis P. Church, and A Miserable, Merry Christmas, by Lincoln Steffens.
And they’re all gorgeously illustrated by Norman Rockwell!
4. Little Women
By Louisa May Alcott
While not just a Christmas book, it does feature Christmas, and there is plenty of snow, ice-skating, and other winter-time shenanigans to make it feel as though this is a perfect holiday read aloud.
Join the March sisters, plus Teddy, Marmee, and the irritating Aunt March, as they grow up during the Civil War. Little Women is a Christmas treasure.
5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
By CS Lewis
Imagine escaping to another magical world, where the evil White Witch rules, and it is winter all the time! Bonus: you get there through a wardrobe, naturally. You’ll find all this and more in the classic The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
After you explain what in the dickens a wardrobe is to your confused children, you can settle in for one of the most beautiful and exciting children’s novels ever written. Good vs evil, and all with a snowy setting. This edition features all seven books in The Chronicles of Narnia series.
6. A Little House Christmas Treasury
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
A compilation of all of her holidays stories taken straight from all of the Little House books, A Little House Christmas Treasury comes in a pretty hardbound edition fully illustrated by Garth Williams.
It’s an easy read-aloud because each child can pick out a chapter, or you can begin at the beginning and read straight through. You’ll feel like a kid again yourself as you imagine what life was like in pioneer days during Christmas time.
7. The Night Tree
By Eve Bunting and Ted Rand
What a pretty picture book! Eve Bunting’s The Night Tree inspired my family to make our own night tree whenever we can, and I bet it will you too.
What is this “night tree,” you ask? Decorate a living tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and other edibles for the wildlife so that they can have a good Christmas too. It’s a fun new tradition that all ages will look forward to each year as you reread these classic Christmas books.
8. Once Upon a Winter
By Melyssa Williams
There a few versions of the classic Christmas story The Nutcracker out there, but Once Upon a Winter has a steampunk spin which your kids are sure to love! Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, as Ree travels to another land with a living china doll, a nutcracker boy, the mysterious Drosselmeier, and an annoying big brother.
There are wicked mermaids, a flying ship, vagabond urchins, reindeer girls, and mechanical mice, and they’d all best be home in time for tea.
Disclaimer: Yeah, sure, I wrote it, but that just means I can wholeheartedly recommend it to you!
9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
By Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a timeless picture book that is fun for all ages. Learn alongside the Whos as they remember what Christmas is really all about (hint: not the presents or the roast beast).
Filled with Dr. Suess’ signature rollicking rhymes, this is a perfect bedtime story for your kids no matter their ages which can easily be read it in one sitting. Plus it’s one of the most classic of all classic Christmas books!
Bonus: You can also watch the animated and live-action movie versions (I’m partial to both).
10. Bob and Six More Christmas Stories
By Sandra Boynton
Looking for a Christmas board book to read aloud? This is it. My kids could not get enough of the hysterically funny writer and illustrator Sandra Boynton as toddlers. I can still cheerfully recite all of Bob, plus all six of the other little tales.
If you have little littles, do yourself a favor, and buy this one along with her other Christmas board books: Merry Christmas, Little Pooky and Christmas Parade. You won’t be able to resist these classic Christmas treasures!
Here’s a fun idea if you’re just starting your holiday book collection: buy several classic Christmas books, gift wrap them, and have your kids open them one at a time, like an Advent Calendar. Trust me, they love it!
I’m getting all geared up for my favorite season just thinking about these Christmas books. There are plenty of good ones out there, these are some of my favorites but please, leave a comment below to add some of yours!