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Do you love to read? These beautiful Christmas reading traditions will help you enjoy some Christmas stories with your family and loved ones!

Post updated November 2023 with new book lists and tradition ideas!

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Christmas Book Traditions

Reading Christmas Stories Each Night by Candlelight

When I was twelve, I spent the night at the home of a young couple from our church around Christmas. This was their sweet tradition:

Every night in December they would light a special candle with 25 marks down one side. They would turn off the lights and read from their personal collection of Christmas stories and poems until the candle burned down to the next mark.

It was so beautiful and peaceful listening to this couple read stories to their little baby in the candlelight. Isn’t this a lovely tradition?

Reading books by candelight each night can be a sweet Christmas tradition
What Christmas book or story would you want to read by candelight?

A Wrapped Christmas Book Advent

Have you seen the Christmas Book Advent idea floating around Pinterest? You wrap 25 Christmas books and open one each day in December to read together leading up to Christmas! My kids loved this one.

I used to not have enough Christmas books to do this, and library fines for late books around the holidays were too stressful for us to try that route. But that might be a good option for you if you have enough books! You could even just do a “12 Days of Christmas” version.

We give our children one new Christmas book each year as a family gift, so we’ve built up a nice collection over the years. Thrift stores are also a great option for building a Christmas book library!

Wrap a Christmas Book a Day for December

Depending on how fancy you wrap the books  (I adore wrapping and had fun adding the numbers), the prep for this tradition is simple once you’ve gathered your books! You can also just keep your books in a pretty basket and choose one to read each day.

If you don’t have 25 Christmas books yet, scroll down for our Christmas book ideas list!

Numbered wrapped books for a Nightly Christmas Stories Advent

More Than 25 Beautiful Christmas Books to Read This Year

#1 The Christmas Tree That Grew

My husband Joey and I both grew up reading this sweet story about a family that buys a living Christmas tree that grows as tall as an apartment building. I love that we get to read it from the original copy Joey received as a gift when he was a boy!

#2 A Christmas Carol (illustrated and abridged)

A beautifully illustrated version of A Christmas Carol. I’m picky about abridgments of my favorite classics, and this one gets a big thumbs up.

We have a tradition based just around reading the unabridged A Christmas Carol. Joey and I started our 17th round of reading it tonight with our family, and I love it more each time. You can read more about that and find some of our other favorite versions of this story here.

#3 The Clown of God 

Tommie DePaola is one of my favorite authors/illustrators, and his version of this Christmastime legend pulls at my heartstrings every year.

#4 Cranberry Christmas

A unique Christmas story about a man who hates children and his transformation. It’s a sequel to another family favorite book, Cranberry Thanksgiving.

#5 Slide and Find Christmas 

A fun, interactive book that my parents got for my oldest when he was a baby. Even my bigger kids still love it!

#6 The Mitten

A short but classic wintry tale that is enchanting for all ages and perfect for little animal lovers.

#7 A Christmas Carol

Yes, here it is again! We bought this unabridged version for our oldest son to read along with us and as a keepsake to remember our family tradition.

#8 The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale

I heard this story for the first time at a church activity as a teen, and I was so excited to find this story of redeeming love years later so I could share it with my children. It’s a perfect way to tie Christmas to Easter.

#9 The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Such a fun, heartwarming story. I do use it as a read-aloud and edit for name-calling type stuff because I don’t want our children to copy that.

#10 Little Women

We won’t be able to read this whole book during the holidays, but I at least want to read the lovely Christmas scenes to my children.

#11 Growin’ Christmas

Based on a true story of hard work and love that will take you from Thanksgiving to Christmas with lovely pictures.

#12 The Polar Express

A Christmas classic with gorgeous illustrations. You can watch the movie too or pair with a community Polar Express activity.

#14 1001 Things to Spot at Christmas

Seek and find lots of Christmasy things in this beautifully illustrated book. Great for counting skills and conversation starters or for reading in the car in between Christmas light drive neighborhoods.

#15 Disney Christmas Storybook Collection

We don’t usually read these as a family, but my kids love reading these collections at bedtime on their own or reading to younger siblings.

#16 Spot’s First Christmas

Does your family love Spot the Dog? This is a cute lift-the-flap book for Christmastime.

#17 Santa is Coming to Missouri

Missouri is home to me, and it’s fun to read this personalized book with cities and sites that my family loves. Check to see if there is a book for your city or state!

#18 The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

A Christ-centered story that makes me cry every time I read it. It’s definitely on my must-read list/

#19 The Reader’s Digest Merry Christmas Songbook

Joey and I both grew up with this book also. What better book could there be for Christmas than a book for caroling or singing around the piano together! I was thrilled when my in-laws gave me my own copy a few years ago!

#20 The Nutcracker

We have a few versions of The Nutcracker story, and they are all beautiful. This particular one is a hit with young guests.

#21 The Mansion (illustrated, includes both abridged and unabridged text)

Another book that my family reads all together each year, right before Christmas. This gorgeous illustrated version makes the timeless lesson easier for little ones to understand.

#22 Jacob T. Marley

A charming companion story to The Christmas Carol. We love adding a good chapter book to our Christmas Book baskets.

#23 Frosty the Snowman (Little Golden Book version)

The book match to my favorite movie version of Frosty the Snowman.

#24 What is Christmas?

A precious board book with cute illustrations that share the real meaning of Christmas.

#25 Touchy Feely Nativity

A darling take on the Christmas story that will make a sweet companion to reading the Christmas story in Luke 2.

My children love our Christmas Stories Advent tradition
Wishlist Books

(These are books that we don’t own but already love and recommend! We’re planning to add one every year from this list to our collection.)

We hope this post helped you find a new Christmas reading tradition or new book that your family will love! Happy Reading!

Does your family have a tradition incorporating Christmas books or stories? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!


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