For Families Who Value the True Meaning of Christmas
Here are my top 10 picks of Children’s Christmas Picture Books for Christian families. I chose them based on their biblical credibility, quality illustrations, child appeal, and traditional values.
There is a nice variety including: a holiday activity book, biblical accounts of the Christmas story, animals as storytellers of Jesus’ birth, and family tales that teach Christian values.
#1 — The Christmas Bible Doodle Book
With a red cover and black and white interior, this activity book for ages 8+ is loaded with Christmas themed outlines for sketching, dot-to-dot, Scripture fill-in-the-blanks, etc. Including over 50 black and white stickers, it is perfect for kids who love to draw and color. The outlines are simple enough for children under 8 to enjoy as long as they have some parental or older sibling help with the activity component. The book includes a combination of both biblical and traditional Christmas themes. Fun, fun, fun!
#2 — The First Christmas
This keepsake book is absolutely stunning. Its illustrations are each individual works of art that viewers will want to study over and over again because of their intricate detail involving black silhouettes, brilliant backgrounds, and scrolling themed borders. While artistic liberty has been taken with the period costumes and settings, the King James rendering of the story is word for word from the Scriptures. (Children of all ages.)
#3 — The Christmas Story for Children
This is a beautiful, authentic retelling of the coming of Jesus into the world as the promised Messiah from his birth through his baptism. The vivid color illustrations are realistic and true to the period. This book provides a great way to reacquaint children of all ages with the facts of the biblical story every Christmas season.
#4 — Song of the Stars (A Christmas Story)
This is a beautiful C. S. Lewis type retelling of Jesus’ birth in which creation and the animal kingdom anticipate his long awaited entrance into the world. In the words of the animals: “The One who made us has come to live with us.” The author’s poetic license is in keeping with biblical passages like Psalm 19:1; Luke 19:40; Romans 8:19-22. The captivating illustrations and text are ideal for ages 4-8.
#5 — Manger
Based on a legend that all creatures are given the ability to speak at midnight on Christmas Eve, this collection of beautifully illustrated poems for children depicts the wide-eyed wonder of an array of animals who have come together for one purpose: to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Mixing childlike fancy with biblical truth, this book caters to the imaginative hearts of children (4-8 years) as they also ponder the wonder of Jesus’ birth.
#6 — Who is Coming to Our House?
This fun and fanciful rendering of the birth of Jesus is from the stable animals’ point of view as they anticipate making everything ready for surprise special visitors. The large print and colorful animated illustrations, along with the rhythm and rhyme of the text make this a perfect book for very young children.
#7 — The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
A 1972 children’s classic, this book has been converted into a wonderful picture book edition for children 4-8. If you’ve never read it, hold onto your hat for the most uproarious Christmas children’s pageant ever with the six worst children in the world – the Herdman’s. Capturing the true transformational meaning of the birth of Jesus, this story is not to be missed and will become an essential part of your Christmas celebration. Fun illustrations help keep even young children glued to the story.
#8 — The Christmas Tree Ship
Carol Crane recounts her childhood Christmas-time memories of her Grandfather telling the story of Captain Schuenemann. Year after year, Captain Christmas (as he became known) skippered the schooner Rouse Simmons from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula through the treacherous waters of Lake Michigan to deliver thousands of Christmas trees to the people of Chicago. That is until 1912. Children especially boys (6-10 years old) will be intrigued by this sad, yet courageous story. The oil and acrylic paintings help bring this fictional story based on factual people and events to life.
#9 — Prairie Christmas
This delightful story set in 1880’s Nebraska involves the interrupted festivities of the 10 year old daughter of a female physician who begrudgingly accompanies her mother to deliver a baby on Christmas Eve. As she experiences the true life drama of suffering, birth, and ultimate celebration, she comes face to face with the reality that life’s best memories are those that cannot be totally planned. With enough adventure for both boys and girls (ages 6-10), this true-to-life illustrated story of children’s hopes and dreams is an Americana classic.
#10 — The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (An Appalachian Story)
Based on the Christmas memories of the author’s grandmother and mother, this World War 1 era story relates the drama of an Appalachian family staying true to its commitment to provide the community’s Christmas tree in the worst of circumstances. With lots of early 20th century details surrounding a nativity pageant and varied Christmas traditions, this heart-warming story is further enhanced by the lovely acrylics of Caldecott Award winning illustrator Barbara Cooney. It is ideal for children (especially girls) ages 4-8.
Many thanks to Horizon Books in Traverse City, Michigan, for stocking an extensive section of children’s Christmas books making it possible for me to preview all but two of these books in person.