The Best Christmas Picture Books for Kids – With 2020 New Releases

We’re rounding up the best Christmas picture books! Discover Christmas classics, multicultural picture books, and new 2020 holiday titles for kids.

christmas picture books

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Who doesn’t love giving and receiving books for the holidays!?

Nothing spreads Christmas joy like opening up a book to a winter wonderland. Travel to the North Pole, discover Christmas traditions across the world, and uncover heartwarming stories of holiday magic that will keep the little ones believing for years to come.

This list of the top Christmas picture books rounds up classics, new releases, and everything in between.

Whether you’re shopping for your own littles or a special kid in your life, you can’t go wrong with these holiday titles.

the best Christmas picture books from classics to 2020 releases

The Best Christmas Picture Books for Kids

Classic Christmas Picture Books

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!” The holidays are not complete without this classic story of the Grinch and his learning of the true Christmas spirit.

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Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A young boy wakes and boards the magical train to the North Pole where he will get to make his Christmas wish. This Caldecott winner and one of the world’s most loved Christmas picture books reminds us that we’re never too old to believe in magic.

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The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

Susan Jeffers transforms the classic tale of Marie, Fritz, and the nutcracker. With minimal text and exquisite illustrations, it will seem as if readers have a front row seat to the Nutcracker ballet.

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The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

One of the most famous Christmas poems, originally written by Clement C. Moore is brilliantly illustrated by Charles Santore, to vividly tell the story of Santa’s visit on Christmas night.

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Dream Snow by Eric Carle

On Christmas Eve night, a farmer goes to bed wondering how it can be Christmas the next day without snow. He dreams of the white flurries, until he awakens the next morning to see that it really snowed, and remembers an important task.

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The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

Little Teeka’s bossy nature only gets the reindeers’ antlers all tangled up, until she tries something a little gentler. Brett’s classical illustration style shines in this Swedish inspired folk-tale.

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Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

A beautifully illustrated telling of the nativity. Kind Ox welcomes Old Dog, Stray Cat, Small Mouse, Tired Donkey, and finally baby Jesus into his stable on the first Christmas night.

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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

Ruthie and her mother wonder how they will get the perfect Christmas tree to the town for the holiday celebration, since Papa has left Appalachia to go to war. One of the most heartwarming Christmas picture books, this will leave readers with feelings of courage and joy.

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Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

Just before Christmas, an organ grinder and his monkey play music and sleep outside Frances’s apartment. On the day of her Christmas pageant, all she can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes. Will she finds the perfect message to share?

Multicultural Christmas Picture Books

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Tree of Cranes by Allen Say

As a young Japanese boy recovers from a chill, his mother folds origami silver cranes for his first Christmas. Say marries both Japanese and American tradition in his classic holiday tale.

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The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaola

This Mexican legend tells of how the poinsettia came to be through a young girl’s gift to the Christ Child. DePaola captures the beauty of festive Mexico, as well as a child’s genuine excitement for Christmas.

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The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow

In this jazzy rendition of the classic tale, Marie receives a nutcracker for Christmas from her uncle. Set in 1920s Harlem, follow one little girl as she discovers her voice as a musician, all thanks to her magical journey.

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The Little Match Girl by Hans Christians Andersen

Jerry Pinkney brilliantly transforms Hans Christian Andersen’s classic, yet heartbreaking tale into one set in the tenements of 1920s America, while also shining a light onto the invisibility of the poor.

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Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Christmas Eve started off perfect, until Maria is convinced she lost her mother’s diamond ring in a batch of tamales. What ensues is a hilarious attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble.

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Between Us and Abuela: a Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins

One of the new multicultural Christmas picture books, Between Us and Abuela tells the story of Maria and her family, traveling south to the Mexican border to visit their Grandmother just before Christmas. For just a few minutes they are able to exchange gifts. When her brother’s gift is too big to fit through the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea.

2020 Christmas Picture Book Releases

Christmas picture books - the spider who saved christmas

The Spider Who Saved Christmas by Raymond Arroyo

One of 2020’s most anticipated and best selling Christmas picture books, The Spider Who Saved Christmas brings us the legend of Nephila, a cave-dwelling spider who plays a vital role in the Christmas story. Discover the origin of Christmas tinsel and rekindle hope, even in the darkest places.

christmas picture books - 5 more sleeps till christmas

5 More Sleeps ’til Christmas by Jimmy Fallon

Fallon lovingly rekindles the building excitement all children experience when anticipating Christmas. Through witty rhyme, the comedian makes the week before Christmas exciting, as he counts down the sleeps that remain until Santa’s arrival.

Christmas picture books - It's a wonderful life

It’s a Wonderful Life by Paul Ruditis

Based on one of the most loved holiday movies, Ruditis brings us the story of George Bailey. His guardian angel shows George his very own acts of kindness and how he has changed the lives of so many in his community for the better. Children will love this heartwarming story of Christmas compassion.

Christmas Picture Books - All the Colors of Christmas

All the Colors of Christmas by Matthew Paul Turner

Celebrate all of Christmas’s colorful experiences, like sledding, festive markets, and holiday tree decorating. Discover classic red and greens, along with white, golf, blue, and brown holiday hues.

Christmas Picture Books - The Lost Christmas Letters

The Lost Christmas Letters by Debbie Dearen Richmond

What are the forest animals to do when they gather to mail their Christmas letters to Santa, only to discover that the mailbox isn’t there? They must move quickly, as a snowstorm is coming, to ensure their letters get to Santa.

More Christmas Picture Books to Bring Holiday Cheer

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Construction Site on Christmas Night by Sherri Duskey Rinker

The trucks are getting ready for Christmas in this holiday companion to Rinker’s original classic. As Excavator, Bulldozer, Crane, Dump Truck and Cement Mixer finish their very important job, they get their very own Christmas surprises.

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How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas by Jane Yolen

Dinosaurs love to celebrate Christmas. From wrapping gifts to stringing lights, how can little dinosaurs possibly sleep through the excitement on Christmas Eve? Especially with cookies left out for Santa…

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Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

Have you ever wondered what snowmen are up to at night, when the rest of the world is asleep? Buehner’s snowmen are back to celebrate all the best parts of Christmas, from holiday treats to city adventures.

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Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdnew

Get ready for the holidays with llama, as he sings songs, bakes cookies, and gives gifts. But waiting for Christmas is hard, and Llama is about to learn the most important holiday lesson of them all.

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Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

In this installment of Wilson’s popular series, Bear’s friends awaken him the day before Christmas and help him stay awake as they prepare for the holiday. When Bear’s friends fall asleep, he prepares his own surprise.

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The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup

A funny tale of Captain Cookie and his daring adventure on Christmas Eve to rescue his crew from the mysterious cannibal, Santa Claus.  Unique and witty, The Gingerbread Pirates deserves a spot among our favorite classic Christmas picture books.

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Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle

The popular Little Blue Truck spreads Christmas cheer by delivering Christmas trees to his animal friends. Children will love counting the Christmas trees, and finding one for Blue!

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The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

Jonathan Toomey, the best woodcarver in the land, is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about his lost wife and child. When he’s approached by a widow and her son, a Christmas miracle might just happen, though.

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Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht

Celebrate the magic of Christmas traditions, including stringing lights, hanging stocking, and picking out a Christmas tree to decorate with family. Reminiscing on the joyous ritual of decorating with ornaments, tinsel, and lights, families will love sharing this one together.

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Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

A pair of Cardinals make their home in a beautiful evergreen tree. One day the unthinkable happens and Red and Lulu are separated. Will a Christmas miracle and some New York City magic do the trick? Love surrounds this story that so beautifully marries the true meaning of Christmas and the magic of New York City.

Related: The Perfect Christmas in New York City

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The Crayons’ Christmas by Drew Daywalt

The lovable crayons are back, just in time for Christmas – and to remind us that the best gift of all is the one you give. Children will love the pop-ups and folded letters, tucked within the pages.

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Don’t Shake the Present by Bill Cotter

When monster receives a present, he needs help opening it…but, no matter what, don’t shake the present!. The silly, interactive nature of Cotter’s story makes it one that children will return to over and over again.

Christmas picture books make great heartwarming gifts

What are some of your favorite holiday reads? What Christmas picture books are on your list this year?

I love sharing holiday books with my children. Some of my favorite Chrismtas picture books are Snowmen at Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Bear Stays Up. Red and Lulu warmed my heart as a native New Yorker, too.

Save These Christmas Picture Books to Pinterest:

32+ heartwarming Christmas Picture Books to give in 2020

Will you snag any of these top holiday favorites for someone special this year? What would you add to this list?

More Kids Christmas Gift Guides You Might Enjoy:


  1. December 2, 2018 / 8:55 am

    To be honest with you I never thought to buy a book for my little cousins! Moreover, I am a book nerd so I don’t know how I forgot about the idea to buy for my cousin’s books. Plus, one of my cousin’s love reading. Thank you so much! If it wasn’t for this blog post I think I would never think about buying books to my family and friends.

    • admin
      December 2, 2018 / 10:24 pm

      I’m glad you enjoy the list! I always buy holiday books for my nephews; such a great way to add a little something to their gifts…plus they’re educational =) Enjoy!!

  2. December 4, 2018 / 3:47 am

    What a great list! I’m looking for a couple of books to get my little one in the Christmas spirit so will definitely look into buying a couple of these!

    • admin
      December 4, 2018 / 9:09 pm

      So glad you like the list! I tried to vary up some classics with a few popular, modern titles…it’s hard to pick just 20 but these are beloved by my son and all the kids who come to the library where I work! Hope it helps.

  3. Leanne
    December 5, 2018 / 2:07 am

    Nice list! I’ve been looking for children’s books to gift this christmas and this was perfect!

    • admin
      December 7, 2018 / 9:33 am

      I’m so glad! Books make the best gifts!

  4. December 5, 2018 / 6:49 am

    This is a great list! I needed a few new Christmas books. Thanks!

    • admin
      December 7, 2018 / 9:33 am

      absolutely! Hope you end up with a few good ones =)

  5. December 5, 2018 / 9:21 am

    These are great books. We have a few of them already. Thanks for sharing. Getting the kids a Christmas book is a tradition of ours!

    • admin
      December 7, 2018 / 9:32 am

      Us too! It’s a great tradition and doesn’t give you too many toys to put away!!

  6. December 5, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    I can’t wait to get some Christmas books to read to my daughter! I loved hearing Christmas stories when I was a kid and I’m hoping she does as well! xo, Brittany Nicole |

    • admin
      December 7, 2018 / 9:32 am

      I try to read some to my son every night, too. Brings back childhood for sure =)

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