While there’s a lot we look forward to on Christmas — from the best Christmas gifts to the decorations to Grandma’s cookie recipe — we also love all the nostalgia and tradition steeped in the holiday season.
One tradition that’s especially beloved is sharing our favorite Christmas books with the next generation. There are some wonderful stories that we love to read time after time, and each holiday season is the perfect time to help them discover these tried and true tales for the first time.
Whether you’re embracing tradition or trying to detox from all the family time with a good book, there’s some truly magical Christmas books to read this season. Here are the best Christmas books for the 2021 holiday season.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
One of the most classic of Christmas books, every child should have this in their collection.
Our Family’s Night Before Christmas Personalized Book
This is a new twist on the classic, and in a fun, creative way. The book can be customized with the family’s last name, the children’s names, and a family photo. You can even change Santa’s skin tone to make him more relatable to your own family.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This is the most famous Christmas story of all time, and tells the story of the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from a bitter, greedy old man to a more joyous, generous one after a series of visits from meaningful ghosts from past, present, and future.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
This is another undeniable classic that has a place in every home library. Whether coming for the illustrations or the whimsical story, this is another one that can’t be missed and should be shared and saved for generations.
Stocking Stuffer Mad Libs by Leigh Olsen
Part Santa story, part fun vocabulary game. This Mad Libs edition is all about Santa Claus! Just try filling in the blanks of the 21 stories inside this book, and all are full of holiday fun.
The Christmas Owl: Based On the True Story of a Little Owl Named Rockefeller by Ellen Kalish and Gideon Sterer and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
For those that might recall, last Christmas, a tiny Saw-whet owl was found in the world’s most famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and everyone instantly fell in love with him! Ellen Kalish, a rehabilitator, naturalist and the Executive Director of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center rescued Rocky and with Gideon and Ramona, wrote this beautiful story about a little owl discovering what learning the meaning of Christmas and the friendships he makes along his rescue and rehabilitation journey. Based on a true story! Well, kind of.
The Christmas Owl: Based on the True Story of a Little Owl Named Rockefeller
Christmas Ideals 2021 by Melinda Lee Rathjen
It’s such a special time of year, and this story takes stock of this special time by setting the mood and giving some time to reflect on this holiday season. It’s a joyous time, but it’s also a poignant and meaningful time. This book of prose and poem pays tribute to all the feelings around us this time of year.
Dear Santa: A Novel by Debbie Macomber
Santa is a figure born out of love and friendship, and we all want to have as much love and friendship as we can in our lives. This is a nostalgia piece about just that, as well as hope, love, and second chances.
The Christmas Promise by Richard Paul Evans
This is a story of promises and forgiveness, and the true meaning of Christmas. The story starts when Richelle and her twin sister Michelle are given matching opal necklaces. “These opals look identical,” he tells them, “but the fire inside each is completely unique—just like the two of you.” What happens after that takes them on two completely different paths, until finally, maybe, they are brought back together.
Letter From Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien
Another beautiful holiday must-read, this book is a collection of letters Tolkien would send his kids every December, in an envelope with a stamp from the North Pole. These letters, from “Father Christmas” were a hallmark of the holiday and often included handwritten notes, and drawings or paintings. Now, you get to experience all of them as well!
Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris
Not all Christmas stories have quite the same sort of setting, and this one takes a kind of dark, twisted turn as it tells the story of Sedaris rescuing a prostitute. But don’t let it scare you off, it’s a great story with a good dose of humor, and a beautiful message. This is one funny author with lots of stories to tell, so don’t miss out.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
While this is a children’s book, it’s also one that anyone of any age can appreciate, and will remind you of a time where you still appreciated the mysterious and exciting nature of Christmas and Santa Claus. Relive the story of a boy boarding a magical train on Christmas Eve, and be filled with wonder once again.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
This is a fictional story about Dickens, who of course is the creator of the most Christmas-y story of all. In this tale, Dickens has writer’s block and seeks inspiration, and his journeys are the foundation for the Christmas story (and really can be a great motivation for all of us trying to find motivation in our own lives.)
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories
This creepy, spooky book of ghost stories takes Christmas tales to a whole new dark place and it’s so much fun. This book of 13 ghost stories are all set in the rather eerie-in-its-own-right 19th century Victorian era, and will bring about an experience of Christmas we can almost guarantee you’ve never had before.
The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol
This classic tale has been around for well over a century, and tells a timeless story of good and evil, and how at the end of the day, love and devotion can triumph over anything — even the devil himself!
The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman
This isn’t a sugary sweet story but it’s delightful nonetheless, a tale about toy soldiers at war with an army of mice. While it’s kind of meant to be a nightmare, it’s actually great fun.
A Vintage Christmas: A Collection of Classic Stories and Poems by Louisa May Alcott and more
This is a collection of poems and stories by some incredibly classic authors, including Bronte, Mark Twain, Alcott, and so much more. A beautifully curated collection that will be an incredible addition to any library.
A Vintage Christmas: A Collection of Classic Stories and Poems
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May
This is the most iconic reindeer of all time, and while we all know the song, do we all know his story? This story is what started it all and it’s absolutely essential for any lover of Christmas — and reindeer.
Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou
Beautiful and poignant, a necessary and beautiful book of poetry to include in any holiday book collection, or any holiday collection at all.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
While many do not consider this book to be a Christmas story, others will strongly argue it is. Undeniably a classic, a lot of the most important moments of the story do happen at Christmas, and it’s a feel-good tale that’ll have you appreciating your family after all is said and done.