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20+ Christmas Chapter Books to Read Together

chapter book and Christmas blanket

The crackling of a cozy fire swathed with red and green stockings, the warmth of an oversized cup of cocoa, the comfort of your children nestled beside you--it's a picture torn right from the pages of a Norman Rockwell calendar. The only thing missing is a book placed gently in the center, captivating the listeners and drawing them closer together through the experience of a shared story. But not just any book, mind you. A book that conveys the sentiments of the season. A book draped with the wonder of winter. A book that echos the joy of Christmas.

Seldom does this scene actually play out in most homes, even during the holidays. Most read-aloud times are anything but serene. But with the help of a well-chosen book, they can all be memorable.

If you are looking for just the right story to enjoy together through the holiday season, look no further. Here is a list of 20+ books to enjoy this Christmas

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20+ Christmas Chapter Books to Read Together #christmasbooks #kidlit #readaloud #rar

101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith


Admittedly, this is not necessarily a book about Christmas, but for the most part, the entire story takes place during the holiday season. I was originally a bit skeptical when I first picked this one up, assuming that the plot would be quite a bit different from the Disney animated classic and that we'd all end up disappointed. But I could not have been more wrong. Despite a few differences in the basic storyline from the cartoon adaptation, the book is delightful and fun, especially when read-aloud with a British accent!


All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss


This narrative non-fiction is like a gentle walk through the woods. The author peels back the underbrush to reveal the animals of nature and what God has designed them to do during the season of Advent. With the help of lyrical prose, she introduces a reader to skunks, porcupines, foxes, deer, and so many other woodland creatures. This book makes a great addition to a December Morning Basket.  

Please note: There are a couple mentions of animals mating in the book which may or may not be appropriate for all readers. 


A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy


In A Tree for Peter, an entire town gets transformed through the kind gift of a stranger. This is the perfect Christmas read-aloud for 5-8-year-olds, filled with positive messages and pay-it-forward themes.


Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery


This collection of Christmas-themed short stories features a few favorites from the Anne of Green Gables series including "Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves," as well as several previously unpublished or lesser-known Montgomery tales.


I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge


After the death of her parents, Polly Flowerdew finds herself living with her two unmarried aunts who approach Christmas with much more trepidation than Polly is used to. The little girl hopes that despite her aunt's fears, she'll still get to see the three ships of the Magi docked in the harbor, carrying special gifts of the season. 

This short, illustrated chapter book reads like a Dickenson novel. 


Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald


Originally published in 1952, this book has a very Pollyanna or Little Princess feel to it--orphaned children, mistreated by the headmistress of a boarding school. It is a delightful old story about two sisters determined to make better lives for themselves and is loosely based on stories that the author made up and told to her own sister when she was a little girl. 


Storybooks for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide


This is a series of four Advent stories each featuring a fictional child from Biblical times who crosses paths with the characters of the Nativity. To be honest, my kids and I don't love these books but we know that they are long-time Christmas favorites in many homes and so I'm including them here. For us, they feel similar to most Christian fiction trade paperbacks--a very predictable plot with a thinly veiled moral lesson on every page. 

The one redeeming quality about this series is that they are all interconnected. When you read one, you are introduced to a few of the characters of another. 

The 24 Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle


Since her mom is pregnant and due any day, Vicky Austin is afraid that the family's long-standing Christmas traditions will be forgotten when the baby finally comes. Some might call this a very long picture book. At less than 50 pages, it makes for the perfect Christmas read-aloud for young children.

Please note: This is a prequel to L'Engles' Austin Family series. 


The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson


When the horrible Herdman children join the cast of the church's annual Christmas play, the entire congregation holds their breath, especially the other children. Everyone is confident that the whole thing will end in disaster. But after weeks of one epic catastrophe after another, the day of the pageant finally arrives, and the audience learns a valuable lesson about what it means to stand in awe at the manger of a Savior.  

Please note: The first chapter of this book is rather tough to get through as it paints a vivid picture of the Herdman kids. I had to do a bit of editing on the fly as I read it aloud. However, the book is well worth the investment of time. Even years after our initial reading, my kids continue to request that I pull this one off the shelf and declare that it's one of their most favorite books we've ever enjoyed together. 


The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin


Surprisingly, this sentimental Dickens-esque classic from 1887 contains easy-to-understand language. The sickly Carol Bird who shares a birthday with Jesus decides to spend her final days on earth ministering to the Ruggle children, a group of down-and-out kids next door. 

This story is morally heavy-handed at times--happy endings for all--and is best suited for younger kids. 


The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson


When the homeless, old French bachelor Armand meets a widow and her children, he has no idea how much they will all grow to need and love each other. Reading this short book is like taking a walking trip around Paris while never leaving the couch. 


The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements


Fans of Frindle will enjoy this Christmas-themed Clements offering. Hart Evens, the most popular kid in school, goofs off in Mr. Meinert's music class one too many times. In response, Mr. Meinert decides that teaching the class is just simply not worth it. With the holiday concert fast approaching, though, the kids have to rally to save face and in the end, learn a valuable lesson about how difficult Mr. Meinert's job really is. He, in turn, grows to appreciate teaching once again. 


The Little House Christmas Treasury by Laura Ingalls Wilder


In this beautifully illustrated anthology, readers get to experience the simplicity and wonder of a prairie Christmas. The publisher has compiled Christmas and winter excerpts from each title of the Little House series to create a memorable walk-through of Laura's life.  

Please note: Readers who are unfamiliar with the original Little House series might find this compilation confusing as it jumps around from story to story and begins mid-action. For those who have read Wilder's. books, however, this anthology is a wonderful blend of literary nostalgia and Christmas delight.


The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The King is Born by M.J. Thomas


While I don't normally read the books in a trade paperback series out loud, but instead save them for read alones that my kids can enjoy on their own, seasonal books are a rare exception. This is the seventh in the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series and follows the time-traveling adventures of 21st century Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they head to a manger to meet the King of all Kings. 


The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan


Admittedly, this story is not as delightful as MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall series, but it's still worth a read. When Liam and his older sister Lily spend Christmas on their grandparent's farm, they learn that Rosie the donkey has been given back to her original owner, leaving her pasture mate White Cow to spend the holidays all alone. Desperate to find some companionship for White Cow, the children must sacrifice their own time, energy, and resources to provide a Christmas no one will ever forget. 

Please note: I had to do a bit of editing on the fly as I read this one aloud in order to avoid some crude language. 


The Vanderbeeker's of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser


While not necessarily an overt Christmas story, most of the book takes place in the days preceding December 25th. When their landlord decides not to renew the lease on the Vanderbeeker's beloved brownstone, the four children decide to do whatever it takes to save their home just in time for Christmas. Little do they know that their curmudgeonly old neighbor will not only save the day but will become a treasured part of their family. Penderwick and Melendy Family fans will enjoy this sibling misadventure. 

Please note: There are a couple of fake swear words in the book as well as a few scenes of an 8th-grade crush. I did have to do a bit of editing on the fly as I read aloud. 


The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams


This timeless classic about a toy rabbit who longs to be real has been captivating children each Christmas since 1922. Like The 24 Days Before Christmas, this is a long picture book that will delight 4 to 8-year-olds. 


Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John


We read this book years ago and enjoyed its Swiss setting along with its powerful messages about sacrificial love and forgiveness. Since it has 26 chapters, it pairs nicely with an Advent countdown tradition. 


Seconded only to the Nativity story of Luke 2, the titles listed here are among my most favorite Christmas-themed chapter books to read aloud to my kids. From heart-warming classics to humorous contemporary novels, there's a book in this collection to fit every taste and many that will surely create treasured holiday memories for you and yours.

What's your favorite Christmas chapter book to read together? 

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2 comments:

  1. The link for "I Saw Three Ships" is taking me to the Amazon page for "The Last Holiday Concert."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh! Thank you for pointing that out. Got it fixed.

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