Beyond Polar Express: Christmas Picture and Chapter Books to Indulge In

I love Christmas because it means reading Christmas picture books to my kids every day and night! This is my favorite tradition because it doesn’t involve much energy and I ingest zero calories. Plus, I love to read, look at beautiful pictures and spend time with my kids doing something we don’t have to clean up after. I love to read these books so much that we keep reading clear through January to stretch the season out and brighten up the winter doldrums.

I have a collection of books that are my own plus I get a lot from my local public library. I’m fortunate that I live in Utah and can get LDS-based books from my library. To make the whole tradition more ceremonial some years I wrap each one and put them under the tree, other years when I haven’t had as much time and energy I just stick them in a bag or in a corner. The kids get to pick one each night for me to read starting on December 1. Then I read the ones we’ve already read over and over during the day. I like to decorate my living room with the books too!

Here’s a great quote by early LDS Church leader Emmeline B. Wells about the importance of telling your children stories at Christmastime: This quote is from the December 1901 edition of the Young Woman’s Journal.

“The olden times were the days of comparative seclusion from the outside world, and we had to depend mainly upon our own resources for amusement…In those far-off days, however, the children were as much on tip-toe with expectancy as in the present day when Santa Claus time comes round. Then we had to tell them stories to make up for the things we lacked. Now there is so much to occupy the time that mothers have no moment to spare, evidently, to tell them stories at all. They depend on church and the kindergarten teachers to do all this for them while they, the dear blessed mothers, lose all the sweetest hours life can bring. To sit at evening round the fire and listen to the children’s prattle and sing them the old-fashioned carols and tell them over and over the stories they long to hear, makes one forget care and trouble, and draws the mother and children closer together with ties inseparable that can never be wholly broken apart. The mother, who denies herself this privilege for the sake of some outside engagement, or even to do extra household work, is doing herself as well as the children an injustice….

“Children do not have too much love not even at Christmas, no, not that, but they very often have too many toys and sweetmeats. How many children there are in the world who long, more earnestly, for real love than they do for aught else. There is no comfort or luxury that will supply its place even in the heart of a little child. There is more happiness because of love than from any other gift…

“Above all else, mothers, tell the little ones stories at Christmas…”

So here’s my list of “stories at Christmas” to tell the little ones, plus some links to other lists.

I’ve starred the ones that are more Christ-centered. That means they focus on the nativity story or on characters who are giving and consciously striving to follow Jesus,  instead of just getting presents or talking about Santa Claus. The ones that are written by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have LDS next to the title.

A Night Without Darkness: A Nephite Story of Christmas*, LDS

Room for a Little One*

Christmas Prayer* LDS

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey* (watch the movie after you read it, it’s so sweet! The movie is one of my favorite movies of all time, I just love the cinematography and the actress who plays the mom. The movie version also made me question, for the first time, if I am raising children who would be more concerned about restoring a nativity set than what present they are are getting for Christmas)

Who is Coming to Our House?*

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Little Fir Tree

A Christmas Dress for Ellen*, LDS (President Monson)

A Christmas Bell for Anya*, LDS



Mr. Finnegan’s Giving Chest* LDS, very cute, original story

(Get the version with the CD as the music and voices, including Dick Van Dyke’s, are charming. I found mine at the thrift store for only $3!)

Christmas Oranges*, LDS

The Last Straw*, LDS

The Legend of the Candy Cane*

The Christmas Sweater (based on the chapter book by the same author), LDS (Glenn Beck)

The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book by [Beck, Glenn, Balfe, Kevin, Wright, Jason]

The Christmas Train* by Pres. Monson (LDS)

Christmas for a Dollar*, :LDS

A Candle in the Window*, :LDS (you can get both the picture book and the chapter book)

Christmas Farm

Cobtown Christmas

Christmas Day in the Morning* by Pearl S. Buck, (illustrated by an LDS man, Mark Buehner. The LDS Church has a video based on this story, made by BYU, called The Gift, I think.)

The Carpenter’s Gift

Christmas in the Mouse House

Snowmen at Christmas

Bear Noel

The Christmas Rose


Christmas with the Mousekins

Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas

Christmas in the Trenches

On this Special Night*

Hurry, Hurry, Have You Heard?*

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

 If you click here, you can go to a very creative LDS blogger mom who has compiled three lists of Christmas picture books from 2009 to 2011. Many of them feature accompanying crafts, like the one below which I copied from her blog. I am doing good just to read the books, but more power to you if are ambitious and energetic  enough to do the crafts as well!


 For chapter books I love:

(we will read a chapter a day, sometimes in the morning for homeschool even)


Holly Claus (this one is soooo long, 544 pages! but it is a great battle between evil and good, where good triumphs. Holly is Santa’s daughter. It’s a delightful fantasy. We actually read it almost all after Christmas when we had a lot more time.) The publisher has also released an abridged version in the form of a picture book.

The Christmas Thief* LDS  by Carol Lynn Pearson (very cute story, absolutely heartwarming)

Big Susan


The Snow Angel LDS by Glenn Beck
The Christmas Sweater* LDS by Glenn Beck
The Christmas Jars* LDS by Jason Wright, and its sequel and picture book version, pictured below:

Then there are the chapters on Christmas in the Little House books that show how sweet and simple Christmas can be. They have been compiled in the volumes below:

Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s