The Christmas season is the perfect time for reading heartwarming stories about Christmas cheer. In our home, we’ve made it a tradition to read at least one Christmas picture book for each day leading up to Christmas, starting on December 1st. It’s a Christmas book countdown! Some families take this tradition a step further and pre-wrap each book in paper or a fabric and unwrap one book a day. I prefer to put all the books on our bookshelf and have my children choose the book they would like to read each night. How ever you choose to enjoy Christmas picture books with your children, I hope these Christmas stories will fill your hearts with joy and cheer.
This books list highlights our most favourite heartwarming Christmas picture books that are not religious. However, if you’re looking for a list of Christian Christmas picture books then check out my list of Beautiful Christ-Centered Christmas Picture Books for Children.
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A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker
Despite never having had a real Christmas, cranky Bear invites his friend Mouse over for a Christmas party. This is a holiday story about kindness and friendship.
Cranberry Christmas by Wende Devlin
Cranberryport is home to a colourful cast of characters: Mr . Whiskers, Sarah, Maggie, Grandmother and most notably the cantankerous old Cyrus Grape who doesn’t like children. Christmas is coming and Cyrus Grape won’t let anybody skate on the pond claiming that it belongs to him. Originally published in 1976, this is a classic Christmas story about friendship and holiday cheer.
A wonderful full cast audio of the book can be found here.
A Simple Christmas on the Farm by Phyllis Alsdurf
A little girl discovers that her family is planning a simple Christmas at their family farm but she’s not sure how she feels about it. A heartful story about family, connection and community.
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
Ten year old Frankie, the youngest boy in the Stowell family, secretly gives his best knitted sweater to a shivering old man that rides the rails as a hobo. Meanwhile Pa Stowell goes by horse and buggy to fetch oranges for the family, but his return is delayed. Set during the Great Depression, this true story about generosity and the true spirit of Christmas is beautiful and poignant.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
It’s winter and Bear is sleepy but Bear’s friends are determined to keep Bear awake for Christmas this year! A lovely rhyming story about friendship, holiday cheer and a special Christmas visitor.
Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
Wilma decides that her garden needs something new, so with the help Parker, a five year old neighbour, she plants sixty-two dozen balsam seedlings trees. It takes five years of patient waiting and loving care for the trees to grow big enough to be sold as Christmas trees, and along the way Wilma and Parker keep careful track of each tree and the ones that were lost to animals and weather. A lovely lyrical story about a Christmas tree farm.
Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo
Tante, a little old women, lives in a tiny cottage with her canary, cat and dog. Every Christmas Eve, Tante cleans her home, sweeps away the cobwebs and shoos out the spiders. She finds a perfect pine tree to decorate and then shares Christmas with the village children and her pets. But this Christmas something special happens, after Tante falls alsleep Kris Kringle let’s the shooed away spiders back into Tante’s home and the result is magical! Based on a folktale over two hundred years old.
Dasher by Matt Tavares
Dasher and her family are part of Mr. Finnegan’s Travelling Circus but Dasher dreams of white snow and crisp cool air. One night a strong wind blows open the corral gate and Dasher bravely runs away and follows the north star. On her journey she helps a kind man and his horse, and her life is forever changed. This is a sweet story about bravery, kindness and family.
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
A lovely lift-the-flap book about an old farmer that settles into his favourite chair and dreams of falling snow.
Finding Christmas by Lezlie Evans
Hare, Squirrel and Mouse are preparing for Christmas but Mouse has a problem, she can’t find the perfect present for Hare. While searching for a gift, Mouse discovers a sick bird and the three friends decide to nurse Swallow back to health. In the process, the friends find Christmas. A sweet story about friendship and finding the spirit of Christmas.
Home for Christmas by Jan Brett
Rollo is a wild mischievous troll that isn’t helpful and still has his tail. A troll’s tail falls off when they are kind. His sister lost hers long ago! Rollo doesn’t want to help with family chores and runs away to live with woodland animals. Rollo starts to miss his family and returns home for Christmas. A beautifully illustrated story set in a Scandinavian landscape that is light-hearted and lively.
How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith
Winston discovers a lost letter addressed to Santa Claus and set off on an adventure to deliver the letter to Santa! A heart-warming illustrated story that is divided into twenty-four and a half chapters that can be read as a Christmas countdown starting on December 1st.
Last Stop on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck
Mia misses her grandpa and wishes they could be together for Christmas. As Mia walks through the market she discovers a mysterious post box with no slot and turns the knob three times. Suddenly Mia is whisked away on a magical adventure! A gorgeous lift-the-flap story about spending Christmas away from loved ones.
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle
Little Blue Truck is delivering five Christmas trees to his friends. A sweet rhyming book about helpfulness and friendship.
Little Red Sleigh: A Heartwarming Christmas Book For Children by Erin Guendelsberger
Little Red has a big dream, to one day be Santa’s big red sleigh. The other toys tell Little Red her dream is impossible but Little Red believes in herself and sets off on a journey north to find Santa. A heartwarming story filled with helpful friends and Christmas joy.
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree arrives by special delivery but there’s a big problem! The magnificent tree is much too tall for his parlor. His butler trims the top of the tree and so begins a sweet story that follows the top of the tree as it brings cheer to many along the way. A heart-warming rhyming story that is sure to get some giggles.
Night Tree by Eve Bunting
On the eve of Christmas, a young boy and his family go into the quiet woods to decorate their favourite evergreen tree with popcorn chains, apples, tangerines, pressed millet and honey and sunflower-seed balls. The tree is a gift for the forest animals. A touching story about the true spirit of Christmas.
Peter and Lotta’s Christmas by Elsa Beskow
Peter and Lotta spend their first Christmas with Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, Aunt Lavender and Uncle Blue. Originally published in 1947, this softly illustrated story is set in Sweden and filled with the adventures of Peter and Lotta.
Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
A story told in gentle rhyming verse about picking a pine tree and bringing it home to decorate and celebrate Christmas. This book is beautifully illustrated makin it magical for children and nostalgic for adults.
Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares
Red and Lulu make their nest in a beautiful evergreen tree. The tree protects them from the heat of hot summer months and keeps them comfortable in the cold winter months. But one winter day something unbelievable happens, the tree is cut down, taken away and Red and Lulu are separated. Red searches long and hard for Lulu and finds himself in a strange place. A heart-tugging story about miracles and love.
The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler
On a cold winter morning, Hannah Greyweather goes about her chores when she spots something dark in the snow: a boot. Hannah slips her tiny rag-covered foot into the boot, but this is no ordinary boot! The next morning there are two boots sitting beside her bed and the miracles don’t stop there. Eventually a visitor knocks on the door, a man with a white beard, a red hat, a red suit, one black boot and a twinkle in his eye. A touching story about Christmas wishes and friendship.
The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
A cozy Nordic tale about a little girl named Anja who dreams of becoming one of Santa’s elves. Before leaving to find Santa, Anja helps her elderly neighbour prepare for Christmas, and delivers gifts to her friends and family. Then Anja straps on her skis in search of Santa. Various animals help her along the way and when she finally meets Santa he has something special for her. A lovely tale of kindness and bringing joy to others .
The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen
A jingling sound wakes Ollie up from her sleep. In the forest Ollie finds a reindeer and makes a new friend. A simple story about friendship with enchanting illustrations.
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Nikki drops a white mitten in the snow and leaves it behind. The white mitten soon attracts a whole menagerie of woodland creatures that cram inside the glove. But when brown bear and little mouse come along something silly happens. A fun read aloud book that is richly illustrated.
The Tree That’s Meant to Be by Yuval Zommer
Little tree grew differently than the other trees and is left behind when families come to cut down their Christmas trees. But the forest animals gather around to cheer up little tree by dressing it with berries, feather, buts and flowers. Magical illustrations bring this story about Christmas cheer to life.
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long
No Christmas book list is complete without a book on the twelve days of Christmas. Based on the traditional carol this book is filled with rich illustrations that can be read over and over again.