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Oh, how fun it is to snuggle up on the couch with your kids in the evening by the Christmas tree and read Christmas picture books aloud to them! Such a treasure!
And it’s even better when you have a Christmas advent candle to burn while you read! The atmosphere is so fun! My kids light the candle and then we sit and snuggle and read. Mmmmm… delicious.
When my kids were little we began this family Christmas tradition and boy has it been awesome! Over the years we have grown our collection of wonderful Christmas picture books, and have gone through a variety of Christmas advent candles.
I want to share with you our list of favorite Christmas picture books. But first of all…
My kids love burning an Advent Countdown Candle
It’s so fun to get a lovely Christmas advent countdown candle so you and your kids can light it and burn it down, one day at a time. You read your picture book while the candle is burning. Sometimes we’ve had to blow out the candle so it doesn’t burn past the day’s date and then keep reading. It depends on what kind of candle you get, how tall it is, and how much space there is between the numbers.
For years we bought a beautiful candle from a candle company but they’ve since gone out of business. Each year I look on Amazon and on Etsy to see what I can find.
Some years I would buy several candles and give them as gifts to friends as an early Christmas gift that I would give them around Thanksgiving time so that they, too, could have a fun family Christmas advent with picture books.
When I’ve done this I’ve also bought a few extra for myself so I have extra candles stored away so I’m prepared for the next Christmas. Then when I’m on my last one I can order some more and be ready for the next few years. So fun! It’s great to buy them in bulk and get them for a lesser price if you can.
And if you’re interested in making your own advent candle, here is a fun tutorial on how to do that with your kids.
But whether you have a Christmas countdown candle or not, you can still have a fabulous Christmas advent with picture books!
Now on to the list of our favorite Christmas picture books!
I’ve listed 23 books below, in no particular order, one for each day from December 1-23. On Christmas Eve we read the Nativity story from the Bible while we burn the candle.
Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
This is one of our favorites. A sweet story of an older lady who lives alone and has acres and acres of land. She decides to plant Christmas trees and enlists a cute little neighbor boy to help her out each year. They work together, calculate together, taking care to note how many they plant, how many perish, and how many grow to be beautiful Christmas trees. A sweet story of the friendship developed over many years.
Silent Night The Song and its Story by Margaret Hodges
Good King Wenceslas comes with a DVD with Jane Seymour reading the story accompanied by the singing of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
I always wanted a Christmas story from the perspective of someone who was wealthy and how they helped others. This story does this beautifully. I love how it teaches that a heart grows less selfish and more full of love when you learn to see other’s needs and reach out to help them. I love how it shows those who have an abundance of wealth relish the joy of giving, loving, reaching out, and serving.
A Christmas Dress for Ellen retold by Thomas S. Monson
A sweet story of a poor young family with five children who lived in Canada. They had little hopes of having anything for Christmas, and the mother had sent a letter to her sister who lived in Idaho asking if they might be able to help by sending things such as old quilts, wheat, yeast, flour, and cornmeal. And she particularly asked for a dress that someone may have outgrown that she could make over for her daughter, Ellen, who was far too somber for a child her age, being worried about her family. Christmas Eve comes and nothing has arrived. But the mailman pulls through Christmas morning as a late shipment had arrived, and he sacrifices to help make this a special Christmas for the Jeppson family.
Silver Packages An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant
Every Christmas in Appalachia, a boy named Frankie and all the other children wait for the Christmas Train to come, which will bring presents to all the children who live in the coal towns. Frankie hopes for a particular gift and waits patiently for it year after year. This is a sweet story of hope and great kindness. And the illustrations are lovely!
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
Such a cute story for young children. Even my older children enjoy reading this one. Mr. Willowby gets a Christmas tree for his parlor but it is too tall! So he cuts off the top with the intention of it being thrown away, but the little cut-off tree-top leads us on a happy little story about how a little thing like that can bring happiness to so many people. It’s a touching little story.
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
Grandpa tells the neat story about an unforgettable Christmas Eve when he was a young soldier in 1914 when the German and Allied soldiers stopped fighting and came together to celebrate the special holiday. How they sang “Silent Night” and shared small gifts, even played some music and soccer in the middle of No Man’s Land. Then as soon as dawn broke, they had to return to their separate trenches to continue with the battle. It’s a great story of how things that truly matter can really bring people together. This book is beautifully done.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
This is my absolute favorite. I can’t help but get teary each time I read it. It is so touching. The way this mother does all in her power to make Christmas special for her daughter and her community despite incredible odds is priceless. With the father away at war, with the hope of him arriving home anytime, yet each day he doesn’t come. This is a wonderful story of holding on to hope and making the very best of things, and truly having a beautiful Christmas.
Mr. Finnegan’s Giving Chest by Dan Farr, with Audio CD read by Dick Van Dyke
Mr. Finnegan (Dick Van Dyke), a very unique toymaker, leads a young girl named Maggie (who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas) on a journey to discover that there really is something special about it. The Giving Chest is a very special chest that helps bring the true spirit of Christmas to Maggie and many others.
Christmas From Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber with DVD read by Tom Brokaw
This is the great, true story of how a man named Gail Halvorsen brought Christmas joy to hundreds and perhaps thousands of children in war-torn Europe during the war. Gail was a young pilot who flew supplies into Soviet-blockaded Berlin. As he would make these runs, he would notice the German children gathered by the fences of an air base. Knowing they had so little, he offered the children some chewing gum. Then the idea took hold in his mind, that he would ‘bomb’ Berlin with candy! He and his buddies would take their rations of chocolate and make little parachutes for the treats, then when they were flying over the area where the children were, he would wiggle the wings of his plane and then let all the candy drop.
Gail Halverson became known as Uncle Wiggly Ears or The Candy Bomber. Soon donations came in from many Americans to help him continue his effort. He brought a lot of happiness and hope to these people! The DVD is wonderful to watch, as they simulate candy dropping from the sky, and even Gail Halverson himself is brought on stage. Really wonderful!
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Have you ever wondered why the awesome snowman you built one day looks a little ragged the next day? Something must happen during the night that makes them look a little different the next day. Snowmen at Night shows you the secret life of snowmen after everyone has gone to bed. They do all sorts of things! Play baseball, have snowball fights, go sledding, you name it. Then they scurry to return to their places before the sun comes up, haggard but oh so happy for having spent such a fun night! Really great illustrations!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
You gotta love How the Grinch Stole Christmas! This is a classic at our house. We love Cindy Lou Who, and the Grinch’s cute little dog. We love how the Grinch’s heart increases in size when he learns that Christmas is all about love.
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
Set in the late 1800’s, Peter is a young boy who works selling newspapers to help his family while his dad is away at sea. He keeps a little of the money he earns each week and gives the rest to his mother to take care of the family. He is saving his money to buy a special wooden schooner, just like the one his dad is sailing on. But as it gets closer to Christmas and his dad hasn’t returned home yet, he is faced with the possibility of needing to give his saved earnings to him mom to help provide a nice Christmas for his sisters. One day in church, the pastor tells the story and the meaning behind the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings and discovers the answer within himself about whether he should share his money with his family. This is the sweet story of a young boy growing in maturity and love to sacrifice and serve his family.
Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers
This is a priceless story of how a very strict orphanage headmaster punishes Rose severely for a very small infraction, buy taking away her one prized Christmas morning gift, an orange. And how the girls in the orphanage pull together to make Christmas special for Rose. A sweet story of friendship and love!
Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider
Long, long ago, in a land far away, Christmas trees were perfect. Every one of them. Small Pine was growing and knew from listening to all the older, taller pines just what he needed to do to keep growing perfectly. But Small Pine decides that caring for little animals that need his shelter and his warmth are more important, even though caring for them ruins his perfect appearance. Being imperfect looking almost gets him cut down and thrown away, but when the queen notices all the animal tracks and feathers near the tree, she begins to understand why Small Pine looks the way he does. And she ends up choosing him over all the other trees.
A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
Every year people come to the Christmas tree farm and choose the perfect tree for their homes. But every year, the too tall Christmas tree never gets chosen. Oh, how he wishes he could be a Christmas tree but realizes that he probably will never get chosen. His little forest friends gather together and make plans of how to help their friend’s dream come true, right there on the Christmas tree farm. Super charming!
The Christmas Train by Thomas S. Monson
When Thomas was a young boy, he really, really wanted to have an electric train. Christmas morning came and he got his wish! He noticed his mom had gotten another train, a wind-up train for a boy down the street whose family was struggling. Although it was only a wind-up train, it had an oil tanker car that Thomas really wanted to add to his train set. So his mother let him have it. Later in the day, his family went to the neighbor’s home to deliver some presents, and the young boy of that family loved his new wind-up train! He never missed the oil tanker car of course, but Thomas’s heart felt a nudge that he decides to listen to. The rest of the story is really delightful as young Thomas’s heart is truly touched by the spirit of Christmas.
Christmas For a Dollar by Gale Sears
It’s California, 1931, and America is deep into the Depression. The Kamp family is particularly struggling, especially after her mother’s death and the doctor bills from her brother’s polio, and Ruthie suspects it’s going to be another Christmas without presents or celebrations. But one day her father brings home a dollar, and they all choose a name to give/make a present for. Each person allowed to use a little of the money as needed. They all pull together and make each other’s Christmas super special and filled with love and sweet memories!
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens illustrated by Brett Helquist
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” Ah, such a magical tale… Love it! This particular version has really delightful illustrations.
The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans
Each year Alexander and his mother walk a long distance to get to the mountain town Noel to watch the lighting of the village Christmas tree. They discover that the Keeper of the Flame will choose someone who has given the truest gift to be the one to light the flame. Because of Alexander’s selfless acts of service on his way to the town, he is rewarded and learns that giving of yourself is what matters most.
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Jacob Grimm
These little elves sure know how to serve, and to do it so selflessly. They really give of their all to secretly help out a sweet elderly couple, and when the couple finds out what the elves have been doing, they decide to do something to help them. So sweet!
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
When Rob was 15, he decided he wanted to do something special for his dad for Christmas to really show his love for him, but he only had a little money. Thinking about how special a Gift was given in a stable when the Christ child was born, he finally decided that instead of waiting for his dad to wake him at 4:00 am to help him go out to the barn and do the milking of the cows, he would get up earlier on his own and go do the chore all by himself. When his father discovers his gift, he is really touched and basks in the joyful gift his son has given him.
And I can’t resist but to add two more books!
These are WONDERFUL books, but too long to read by the light of the advent candle in a single sitting. You could read a chapter a night or something, or just have these to read any other time during the season. 🙂
A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder illustrated by Garth Williams
These books share the heartwarming stories of Christmas on the frontier. Even if they didn’t have money or presents, they still had each other and oh, so much love and joy! I love me some Little House Christmas stories!
A Little House Christmas Volume II by Laura Ingalls Wilder illustrated by Garth Williams
What are some of your favorite Christmas picture books? Please share!
Other Christmas articles you may enjoy:
- How to Make Fresh Homemade Christmas Potpourri
- 5 Tips to Help Simplify Your Christmas
- How to Eliminate Overwhelm and Create the Christmas You Want
- How to Make Not So Typical Gingerbread Houses