Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own
Like many kids, my preschooler and toddler are obsessed with books. I’m not complaining, but our house is overflowing with hundreds of books that are dog-eared, torn, and read over and over and over again. Now that the holidays are upon us, my kiddos have been dusting off all holiday-themed books for their reading pleasure. They are very particular about which ones they like or “not really,” so I thought I would share their tried-and-true favorite holiday books to check out with your own families.
There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! ($6.00 on Amazon)
My eldest received this book from his preschool teacher last year and loves it. It is a rhyming book about a cold lady who swallows some snow, a pipe, some coal, a hat, and other items – but the narrator doesn’t know why. Both my kiddos laugh and laugh, commenting on how silly the lady is for swallowing all of these things – “silly lady, you’re not supposed to eat COALLLL!” Then at the end – a surprise that my boys love that explains why the cold lady has swallowed all of these miscellaneous items. This is definitely a fan favorite in our household; I read it a minimum of twice a day every day.
The Night Before Christmas (Little Golden Book) ($3.99 on Amazon)
Remember the Little Golden Books from back in the day? I used to have a collection lined up on my shelf with their gold-colored spines. Who knew that they were still around? This book was under $5 and is one of my kids’ absolute favorites. It’s the classic Night Before Christmas rhyme complete with nostalgic illustrations. We actually read it throughout the year, but during the holiday season their requests go into overdrive – it is consistently the first book read to them before bedtime each night.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Classic Seuss) ($8.48 on Amazon)
I will admit that this is my favorite holiday story, so that may have something to do with why my boys love it as well. When my preschooler was younger, he hesitated on certain “scary” pages – but has since become “brave” and reads it all the way through. He reassures his younger brother that “the Grinchy turns nice at the end.” Both kids call it “The Grinchy Book” and they also love the original cartoon. While we do also have some more modern color versions of the story, the original Seuss version circa 1957 remains their favorite by far.
Elf on the Shelf:A Christmas Tradition ($29.95 on Amazon)
I’ve learned that for some reason this is a controversial book/toy, but my boys have loved it ever since receiving it as a Christmas gift from my cousin. The set comes with a book and little toy elf that can be selected based on hair and eye color. The child then names the elf, memorializing it onto an included certificate. The general gist is that the elf watches the children during the day, then travels up to the North Pole each evening to report to Santa how the children behaved. Once the elf returns from his journey, he ends up in a different spot in the house each morning – many times in mischievous situations (think: spilling the cereal, eating candy, etc.) The elf has become quite a cult classic, with many blogs and websites dedicated to increasingly dramatic displays of mischief each morning. But the elf in our house is pretty tame by comparison, maybe ending up on the Christmas tree or hanging from the blinds on different mornings. The accompanying book explains the mission of the elf on behalf of Santa, and the general rules in handling the elf (he cannot be touched by children, for example). It is short but cute, and my boys love to read it often as they point to the elf in different positions throughout the house.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Little Golden Book) ($3.72 on Amazon)
Another inexpensive Golden Book that my boys adore. This is the classic story of that reindeer with the glowing red nose who becomes Santa’s favorite after the other reindeer make fun of him for looking different. It comes complete with original illustrations and prose, including a starting and ending that match The Night Before Christmas almost word for word. I love that this is the original 1939 version of the story. It is nostalgic to read, and I like the fact that it opens the discussion around bullying in a gentle way for young children to comprehend.
The Sweet Smell of Christmas (Scented Storybook) ($5.36 on Amazon)
My boys love this scratch-and-sniff book, and so do I. It puts everyone in the holiday spirit with scents of hot chocolate, apple pie, Christmas trees, gingerbread, and more. The kids love sniffing through Little Bear’s adventures and describing what they smell and what each scent compares to (the gingerbread, for example, smells like “the caterpillar ride” at Disneyland’s California Adventure). If I had a complaint, it would be that the scented stickers don’t seem to last as long as I would hope (maybe one or two seasons at best), but at around $5, I still think it’s a good deal.
Where Is Baby’s Christmas Present?: A Lift-the-Flap Book ($6.89 on Amazon)
The Lift-the-Flap book series is a huge hit in our household – we have the books for Easter, Halloween, non-holiday, and of course Christmas. My almost 2-year-old especially loves lifting the flap for each question regarding the whereabouts of baby’s present (“Is it in the closet?”) and then laughing and shouting NOOOOOO when the present is not there. These books are great for young toddlers as they are simple, easy to understand, have large clear drawings, and just a single theme. Even my preschooler gets into it, chastising the baby for being “silly” as he looks for his present. Bonus points for it being a board book, which lasts forever. The warning I would give though is not to leave it with your littlest ones unsupervised – mine has a habit of tearing off the flaps.
Fa La La (Leslie Patricelli board books) ($5.37 on Amazon)
This board book series is another favorite of the littlest member of our family. He enjoys the birthday story, potty story, and of course the holiday story. My 4-year-old still enjoys these books, having memorized them all. The story centers around a baby busily preparing for Christmas – decorating a Christmas tree, visiting Santa Claus, making presents, and more. It’s a great introduction to holiday traditions as I use each page to talk about what we do as a family and how it compares or doesn’t compare to what the baby in the story does. The illustrations are large, clear, and simple, and the physical quality of the board book ensures that it lasts through pretty much everything my toddlers can put it through.
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas ($14.66 on Amazon)
So clearly I am not the target demographic, because these Pete the Cat books have always baffled me a bit. I just don’t get it. But both of my boys ADORE this book along with the other Pete the Cat books. They want to read it over and over again, and I oblige. In fairness, it’s not a bad book. It tells the story of how Pete the Cat saved Christmas when Santa was ill and unable to deliver the toys to all the good girls and boys. The moral of the story is the importance of giving back, and how you can give your all no matter how small you are. The story rhymes and the quality of the book is outstanding, having lasted through several seasons of toddler abuse.
The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving ($3.78 on Amazon)
Ah, the good ole Berenstain Bears – one of my childhood favorites. My children love them too and enjoy reading about their various adventures. Christmas is no exception. Anyone familiar with the bears knows that each story centers around a lesson, and the lesson in this story is the importance of and reasons behind giving. I like how it incorporates the biblical origins of Christmas, opening up the discussion with children about why we celebrate the holiday in the first place. My kids are very familiar with the bear family which increases their credibility as Brother and Sister learn various new lessons. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and both of my boys love picking out new details in each one every time we look at them.
So there you have it. Of the stacks of holiday books available to them, these are the ten that my children keep coming back to time and time again. Most are very well priced – an added bonus, as all ten could be purchased for less than $89. Many of these make great Christmas gifts as well – I especially love gifting the Elf on the Shelf to children who have not yet been introduced to the tradition.
What are your family’s favorite holiday stories? I’d love to pick up some new ones for the boys!