Christmas Books

Before putting the Christmas books away until next year I had Katie type up a list of the books that were all wrapped up and opened one day at a time from December 1 through December 24. Some of them are very old (and harder to find or expensive) and others were found at thrift stores or are part of Chris or my childhood collection. Some are meaningful and rich and others are just silly and fun. I like having a combination of the two.

These aren't in any particular order and I've included links when possible. Now is probably a really great time to collect some books for next year if you're interested in starting this tradition. 22 of the 24 are included as two of them are currently hiding somewhere in the house.

1. Dream Snow by Erica Carle | Love anything Eric Carle.

2. A Ghost Tale for Christmas by Mary Pope Orsborne | This one was more for Simon (a new addition this year). He didn't read it :). He was into reading the new Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and that was totally fine with me. Might be of more interest to him next year.

3. Fisher Price Little People Christmastime Is Here!: Lift the Flap (Fisher Price Lift the Flap)| This one has been around awhile but both kids still love looking at it and peeking under all the flaps.

4. OLIVIA Claus | A favorite of Anna's.

5. Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkein | This is one of my personal favorites. Just magical.

6. Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

7. Babar and Father Christmas by Jean De Brunhoff

8. Santa Calls by William Joyce

9. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold

10. The Animals' Merry Christmas by Richard Scarry

11. The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffman and Maurice Sendak | I have a special story that goes along with this book that I didn't actually realize until Anna and I were looking at it this year. When I was seven or eight (1983 or so) I went to see The Nutcracker in Seattle at The Pacific Northwest Ballet. As I looked through this book this year (which I think I bought as an adult but I'm not sure now) I realized that this was the Maurice Sendak (author/illustrator of Where The Wild Things Are) and that he had been commissioned to make the sets for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker during the time I saw it. In looking through the book I knew those sets. I remembered the images. So many things collided together for me as I flipped through those pages. This one is not a little kid's Nutcracker book - it's big and heavy and in-depth and awesome. And if you like Maurice Sendak there was a really great interview with him on Fresh Air earlier this year that is totally worth your time.

12. The Nutcracker by Gaby Goldsack | This is a very simplified version of the nutcracker story. It was just right for introducing Anna to the story before we went to the ballet but I might be on the lookout for a different version that's between this one and the one above.

13. The Night Before Christmas with Jan Brett | Amazing illustrations.

14. Elmo's 12 Days of Christmas | This one will likely be phased out (not sure about that yet).

15. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg | Classic.

16. Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri

17. The Sweet Smell of Christmas (Scented Storybook) by Patricia M. Scarry

18. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff

19. Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury | This book includes a few different stories. Again, Jan Brett's illustrations are amazing.

20. Little Critter: Just a Snowman by Mercer Mayer

21. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg | This was a new one for our family this year and it was an instant favorite. Lots of things to pull out and read. Great story.

22. Disney's Merry Christmas Carols | Couldn't find a source for this one - it's a Little Golden Book.

23. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

We also received two new books this year form a friend in New Zealand - super fun additions to our collection: A Kiwi Jingle Bells and A Kiwi before Christmas both by Yvonne Morrison and Deborah Hinde.

I'd also highly recommend checking out Amanda Soule's post on her family's Winter Reading Favorites. Some of my favorites in our collection came from her list - and looking at it now it's totally possible that I ordered the Maurice Sendak Nutcracker book after reading about it on her blog back in 2007.

71 thoughts

  1. Anthea

    2012-01-04 19:11:39 -0500

    I love this tradition and feel so sad that my boys are 14 and 10 and a little too old for this but maybe we can adapt it. Thanks for the idea Ali.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  2. Amy

    2012-01-04 19:34:51 -0500

    Love this Ali. I'm definitely doing it next year- though my kids love Christmas books all year long so I'll just gather them up and wrap them for December. So surprised that your only book that overlaps ours is "the night before Christmas" a couple of our favs this year were llama llama holiday drama and tractor Mac saves Christmas. Thanks again for sharing!

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  3. Julie MacManus

    2012-01-04 19:53:36 -0500

    i LOVED your idea and so this year starting collecting books. i've just finished wrapping 21 books -so only another few to buy. I hit the 50% off sale at one shop after xmas and got like 7 bargain books! Most of mine are different from yours and being from NZ - i have the 'Kiwi' christmas ones.
    i have never seen the Fisher Price Lift the Flap one, even tho we have others of those... so thats now on my wish list :>
    thanks so much for sharing your grand ideas :>

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  4. Linda Gore

    2012-01-04 20:25:01 -0500

    Awesome tradition. Too bad my four kids are scattered in 4 states and my baby is almost 21. Great idea for the grandkids......some day.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  5. Hannah

    2012-01-04 20:33:05 -0500

    Love the books idea. My two older boys love having me read to them for a change during advent, so I try to pick a Christmas themed chapter book and we read a chapter each night, sometimes by candlelight. Our 3 yr old would love this idea though.
    We live in Seattle, and the PNB still do Nutcracker with the Maurice Sendak sets every year- probably the same sets you saw in the 80's. I think there would be an outcry if they changed it! Love the mouse king!

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  6. SandyBear76

    2012-01-04 21:26:30 -0500

    Love the books!! I have read most of these but a few I haven't. I'll have to add GoodReads. I miss reading to my kids but being college kids, they aren't really interested in that now. They always got books at Christmas from Santa.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  7. Susan R

    2012-01-04 22:22:49 -0500

    we did this for the 2nd Christmas and will continue until the kids don't enjoy it. They fight over whose turn it is to open the book, but love to see old faves and if we've gotten any new ones. I found a lot of mine in discount stores as well as thrift stores fo $0.25 or so, plus the library, especially if your space is small and you can't store so many seasonal books.

    We had some the kids really love that you might like:
    Dear Santa Claus(very short, but it has "letters"to and from Santa that are super fun and very interactive).
    Santa Claus is Comin'to Town - Steven Kellogg, awesome pics
    Home for Christmas-Jan Brett
    A Present for Santa Claus-fun pop up ending
    The Littlest Christmas Elf-this is a Little Golden Book so might be a little young, but the story is super sweet
    Love the books that made your list, will have to pick up a few to update some of ours and retire some others. :)

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  8. Teresa

    2012-01-04 23:42:54 -0500

    What a great selection of books. We will have to check some of them out. We have the last one . Bear Stays up for Christmas. We love it. Thanks for sharing.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  9. Kelly

    2012-01-05 02:49:40 -0500

    loved the idea of this when you first mentioned it... and went out looking for some - but found many i was drawn to were probably too young for my now 7 and 10 year old boys. but seeing the list you have, i'm thinking there might be some in that list that will work. love the idea of building up year by year that someone else mentioned above - we might have to do two a year to "catch up" a bit ;)

    totally LOVE that you have some kiwi friends that have sent you some of 'our' books......... i think we have some really great children's writers here :)

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  10. June

    2012-01-05 02:58:22 -0500

    Thank you for sharing. I love your book selections and will definitely purchase a few to add to our Christmas books. The kids will definitely treasure this tradition. PS. I truly appreciate all the time you spend sharing your life with the rest of us in cyberspace!

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  11. Jennie

    2012-01-05 12:26:47 -0500

    If you haven't read The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing, I highly recommend it. It's so cute, and it helps keep things in perspective.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  12. Our Learning

    2012-01-05 13:56:29 -0500

    We had fun with our Advent Book Countdown also! Thanks for showing us the books your family enjoyed. One of our favorites is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  13. Olivia

    2012-01-05 17:56:33 -0500

    Number 21 was my absolute favorite as a child. Although number 4 wasn't around when I was younger, I have seen the festive episodes of the cartoon which are great - got to love the theme tune too ;)

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  14. Jennie@gotmyreservations

    2012-01-05 20:26:28 -0500

    What a wonderful idea! I'm going to post it on my Facebook for all of my grandma friends to see. I have a special shelf in my office where I keep my Christmas books and my Christmas music -- maybe someday I'll have grandkids to read them to!

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  15. jamsandwich

    2012-01-06 04:13:24 -0500

    One of our favorites that isn't on your list is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey. We give our boys a new Christmas storybook on Christmas eve every year to be read at bedtime. All previous years books come out at the start of december and live in a basket in the lounge for the festive season to be read as and when anyone wishes.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  16. Kay Gregory-Clark

    2012-01-06 09:42:54 -0500

    I am 67 years old and started a similar tradition when my son—now 42—was a toddler. I didn't wrap the books, but we started our collection. After he left home, I continued to bring out the books and put them in a special basket or, this year, a bright red metal tub. My personal favorite is a special edition of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" written by Dylan Thomas with woodcut illustrations by Ellen Raskin. I was shocked to read the inscription—I gave it to Todd 31 years ago! I love it because of the story, but particularly for the beautiful writing. I began buying books for my granddaughters and the past two years, sent them Hallmark recording books. I am not there to read to them, so this is something they (and I!) can enjoy "together." does not have to be a child or have little ones to enjoy these wonderful books.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  17. Sally

    2012-01-07 02:37:32 -0500

    Pacific Northwest Ballet is still using the Maurice Sendak sets! I saw PNB's Nutcracker a year before they commissioned them, and I enjoyed it. When I saw it the following year with the Sendak sets, I fell in love. I have seen it a couple times since, and I still don't think anything compares to those fabulous sets.

    Thanks for sharing your collection of books. Olive the Other Reindeer was my son's favorite when he was little. We had a movie version (Drew Barrymore was Olive's voice), and Nordstrom decorated their stores with Olive decor. We still have our stuffed Olive and Martini and Olive ornaments.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  18. Bev

    2012-01-07 09:47:31 -0500

    what a great idea - using it for my Grandchildren thank you so much

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  19. Vicki S

    2012-01-07 12:35:07 -0500

    Wrapping is a great idea. I gave "Santa Calls" to my newly married adult friends for years - in preparation of their future offspring. I'm going to check-up on the whereabouts of those books! :)

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  20. Beatrice

    2012-01-07 23:52:20 -0500

    Did you choose these because of anything in particular? or were they random picks? I love this idea... maybe I can do this but 1 book per week next Christmas :)

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  21. Beth Smith

    2012-01-08 21:39:24 -0500

    We only have a few that we put away every year and take out every Christmas, but the one that screams Christmas and tradition to our family is "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey." I would read it by yourself first, though, if you cry easily. It is absolutely one of the most magnificent stories I've ever read.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  22. ck

    2012-01-09 20:17:45 -0500

    I am so glad you explained this, Ali- I assumed you bought 24 books each year for them- silly me. NOW I understand. Great tradition!!!

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  23. lindsay k.

    2012-01-14 08:21:11 -0500

    17 christmases by dandy daley mackall is one of our new books this year.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  24. lindsay k.

    2012-01-14 08:21:45 -0500

    i apologize, it autocorrected the author's is dandi daley mackall.

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
  25. Erica Carle — Sociology is Not a Science « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL

    2012-06-15 07:24:38 -0400

    [...] Christmas Books ( [...]

    * edited 08/11/14 07:35AM
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