We started reading winter books back in November when the first snow hit. Now we’re devouring Christmas books. Over the last few years I’ve waded through a lot of Christmas books for young children. Here are the ones Pooky and I like the most.
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Mouse’s First Christmas by Lauren Thompson is a beautifully illustrated (by Buket Erdogan) New York Times Bestseller.
Why I like it: This large board book has gorgeous rich pictures (as all the Mouse’s First books do). Each page focuses on one item children are likely to see this time of year (stocking, angel, etc…). The author uses descriptive words to help portray each item (tinkly, silver, melty, etc…) I think this is a great, simple introduction to the Christmas holiday.
Why Pooky likes it: As we read this book together, Pooky looks around the room trying to find a real life example of each item mentioned.
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockcroft is a sweet story of Kind Ox and the other animals making room in the stable for baby Jesus.
Why I like it: This board book introduces the baby Jesus in a simple way allowing toddlers to relate to Him. The rich glittering illustrations further emphasize that this is a special night.
Why Pooky likes it: Pooky (and I imagine all toddlers) have a natural love of animals. That’s what draws Pooky into the story as a new animal is introduced on each page.
Duck and Goose: It’s Time for Christmas by Tad Hills follows these two New York Times bestselling characters through fun wintery scenes.
Why I like it: I haven’t found a Duck and Goose book I don’t love. In this one Duck is coaxing Goose along through the wintery wonderland to get him to finally put the star on the Christmas tree. The short repetitive phrases are perfect for toddlers. Much of the story is told through the fun pictures including the hilarious facial expressions of Duck and Goose.
Why Pooky likes it: As we see what the characters are up to on each page (sledding, making snow angels, etc…) Pook likes to “talk” about her similar experiences (sled with Daddy). This means she’s relating the story to her personal life (such an important piece of comprehension).
Llama Llama, Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney is another character series we love.
Why I like it: The book follows Llama Llama through the holiday season. It shows many of the exciting things along with the frustrations that young kids face during the race toward Christmas. The book ends with a very good lesson about something important we shouldn’t forget during the chaos of the season.
Why Pooky likes it: I think Pook enjoys seeing all the fun things Llama Llama does (making cookies, wearing Christmas socks, etc…).
The Donkey’s Christmas Song is a simple introduction to baby Jesus by Caldecott Honor winner Nancy Tafuri.
Why I like it: This book provides a way to talk to very young kids about the birth of baby Jesus in a way that they can relate. The large, close-up pictures of the lovable stable animals make each page very inviting.
Why Pooky Likes it: As I alluded to before, Pooky is drawn to animals, so naturally she likes looking through this book. She enjoys my rendition of each animal’s sound as the book describes each one singing to baby Jesus. She thinks the sound of the donkey is hilarious!
The Night Before Christmas is, of course, a classic poem written by Clement C. Moore. There are so many versions of it, and Pooky and I didn’t agree on which was better, so I’m sharing each of our favorites here.
I adore the version illustrated by renowned artist Angela Barrett. I’m a sucker for the Victorian Era, and there is so much historically accurate detail in each picture. I knew as soon as I opened this book that it had been constructed by a very talented artist. The book is so beautiful I couldn’t leave it behind in the bookstore even though I knew I was buying it for me and not Pooky. I just want to stare at each page!
Pooky has been enjoying the more animated version by Henry Fisher. I must admit these illustrations are just as inviting in their own, more fanciful, way. Note: Although the language is far beyond my tot’s understanding, she gleans the meaning from the pictures. And if I read the text quickly with the rhythm and rhyme intended for the poem, she seems to enjoy it. For some reason, in both versions, she always gets excited about the part where the moonlight shines on the “new-fallen snow.”
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies is part of the “If You Give a …Book” series by Laura Numeroff.
Why I like it: Who doesn’t like these adorable characters and their antics throughout the circular stories? In this one, we follow the Mouse through the typical sights and adventures of Christmas (singing carols, decorating the tree, etc…)
Why Pooky likes it: She likes to narrate what the Mouse is up to on each page. A common phrase uttered by her while reading through this book is “uh-oh…a mess!” which makes us giggle.
Llama Llama Jingle Bells is another of our favorites by Anna Dewdney.
Why I like it: Without any of the drama of the previously mentioned Llama Llama book, this one depicts the build-up of the excitement of Christmas with simple phrases in sing-song rhymes.
Why Pooky likes it: I’m not exactly sure what it is about these Llama llama books, but Pooky LOVES them all! We read at least two of them each night. In this one, Pooky gets to see the sights of the season (cookies, stockings, etc…). Plus, her new favorite toy is a jingle bell I gave her as part of her advent calendar. She LOVES that bell, so I think this title draws her to the book. She likes to bring her bell when we sit down to read it.
The Christmas Story by Patricia A. Pingry explains the true meaning of Christmas.
Why I like it: Explaining the meaning of Christmas to a young child can seem difficult, but this book tells the story in a very simple way so that even toddlers can understand.
Why Pooky likes it: If I’m honest, I think it’s the animals and the baby Jesus that draw Pooky into the pages of this story…and the big star at the end.
Those are our picks for best Christmas books for toddlers. There are so many other great ones out there. What’s your favorite?
Note: You may notice that some classics like Rudolph and Frosty are missing from our list. That’s because each version of those stories that I liked was too wordy for Pooky to sit through, so we’ll save those for when she’s a bit older.
Some other book lists you may be interested in: