christmas books to gladden the heart

Nov 16, 2009

One of our favorite traditions is to decorate our home with our favorite Christmas books and to read one each night of December. Each child has their favorite books they are dying for me to read and they know that one of those nights, they will get “their” book read to everyone. We also sing a different Christmas song each night and have a scripture about Christ. We love this tradition!

If you are wanting to create this tradition in your home, just list out your favorite Christmas books that you own and then list out which ones you will need to either buy or check out from the library so that you have at least 24 books. If you need some ideas, I will share with you some of our favorites.

grandfather's christmas tree

Grandfather’s Christmas Tree by Keith Strand and Thomas Locker is the heartwarming story of a young couple homesteading out in the Colorado wilderness and being hit by the worst winter storms in years. As they learn to depend on one another and God above, they are able to save an injured goose, give birth to their first baby, and create a story to tell for generations. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is sure to bring a soft smile to your face.

christmas oranges

Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers is a story of children in a cruel orphanage learning to share and lighten a little girl’s heart.

silent night, holy night

Silent Night, Holy Night: The Story of the Christmas Truce by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Walter Cronkite is a story from WWI and enemy soldiers calling for a two day truce to celebrate Christmas.

christmas dress for ellen

A Christmas Dress For Ellen by Thomas S. Monson is a true story of a family who is down on their luck after moving to Canada and the generosity of people in Idaho sending food, clothes, books, and games to ease their poverty. Ellen has been forced to grow up before her time and the joy has been snuffed right out of her. Through the selflessness of a nearly blind postman who travels eight hours through a blizzard on Christmas Eve and the love of her family, Ellen is able to feel the power of Christmas and smile again.

one candle

One Candle by Eve Bunting. This is a beautiful story about Hannukah and a WWII observance in a concentration camp using a smuggled potato as the candle. We celebrate Hannukah and read it on the first night of the festival.

christmas day in the morning

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck tells how a boy wakes up at 2:45 a.m. to do the farm chores for his father on Christmas morning and how much joy it brings to him to give this gift to his father. The illustrations are lovely, full of old-fashioned folksy-ness. (Another invented word!)

cowboy christmas

A Cowboy Christmas: The Miracle at Lone Pine Ridge by Audrey Wood tells how a fatherless boy answers a prompting to find his father’s friend in a blizzard on Christmas Eve and saves his life. This one is Keziah’s favorite.

christmas like helen's

A Christmas Like Helen’s by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock (who is one of our all-time favorite authors – check out The Bear Who Heard Crying, Wilderness Cat, and A Farm of Her Own.) This book goes through Helen’s life and talks about different Christmas experiences she has had. It is full of family, faith, and love and will take you back to a forgotten time when life was simpler.


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Book & CD Gift Edition) by Susan Wojciechowski, P.J. Lynch, and James Earl Jones is a delightful story of a bitter and broken-hearted widower who slowly has his heart brought back to life by a widow and her curious, endearing little boy. Get the one with the CD, it is fabulous!

small miracle

A Small Miracle by Peter Collington is a picture book without words that tells the story of an impoverished woman who restores the church’s vandalized creche and then is saved when those characters come to life to rescue her. My children love looking at the pictures and creating their own words for the story.

we were there

We Were There: A Nativity Story by Eve Bunting has wonderful illustrations and tells the story of the lowly creatures (snake, toad, scorpion, cockroach, bat, spider, and rat) who went unnoticed, but traveled far to be present at Christ’s birth. Each animal has its own rhyme and is a great read-aloud.

no snow on christmas eve

There Was No Snow On Christmas Eve by Pamela Munoz Ryan is a beautifully illustrated book that paints the picture of what it really would have been like in Bethlehem in the springtime of the year when Christ was born.

gift of the magi

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry is a classic tale of both spouses sacrificing their most treasured item to buy the other a gift for those treasured items. Pure delight!

christmas carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens…what else needs to be said? We love it and think everyone else does too! This absolutely breathtaking edition by my favorite illustrator, Robert Ingpen is a MUST have.

this is the season

This Is the Season: Beloved of the Year by Simon Dewey tells the words to the song “This is the Season” and has lots of quotes about Christmas. My children love to look at the paintings by Simon Dewey.

christmas treasury

A Christmas Treasury for Latter-day Saint Families by Lloyd and Karmel Newell has 25 different sections with a different value for each day, like Hope, Joy, Kindness, or Sharing. Each value theme has stories, poems, scriptures and songs to teach that value. We use this book to give us a theme for the day and then I pick a picture book to go with that theme. If I don’t have a book for that day, I just use the stories in this book.

three trees

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt is a story from long ago that shows how God can make our plans for our life come true in ways we never imagined. Each of the three trees comes to play a part in Jesus’ life, but not the way they had planned.

sacred songs

Sacred Songs of Christmas: A Family Treasury [With CD] by Nicole Wong, Paine Proffitt, and Andrea Eberbach is full of treasured hymns and also songs I have never heard of. We sing a different Christmas song each night and we get lots of them from this book. Comes with a CD to help you with the unfamiliar ones.


Silent Night: The Song and Its Story by Margaret Hodges tells the story of how this staple of Christmas was written and became famous across the world.


When Christ Was Born in Bethlehem by Joseph Brickey has gorgeous paintings on each page and contains the text of Luke 2 to tell the story of Christ’s birth straight from the scriptures. It also contains some references from LDS scriptures, but if you are not LDS, I think you will still love it. It is simply breathtaking.

Please share with me some of your favorites so our list can keep growing!

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  1. I’ve read and loved many of these, and hope to find the rest! Thanks for the ideas… we also like to read a book each day of December. I usually wrap them up to look all festive, and the kids take turns each night unwrapping one and then we read it together. Fun times. :)

    • tracy

      Wrapping them up sounds fun! We just put them all over our house, on the piano, on tables, and around the tree.

  2. Thanks for all the great book suggestions, many I hadn’t heard of before. Looking forward to reading them!

  3. What a lovely idea! I know some of these books, but will look for the others. This is a beautiful tradition! I love it!

    • tracy

      Anne, You will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Grandfather’s Christmas Tree! Order it today and then just swoon over the big pregnant belly pictures with an old-fashioned apron over top, then the nursing, then the next baby…just precious!

  4. I love your idea to put books all around the house! I usually put them in a basket by the tree, but around the house would certainly be more visual. I just read your 100 things post- you crack me up. :-) Where in the world do you find your energy?

    • tracy

      I don’t think I have a lot of energy…just insanity!

      Welcome Sariah!