As families all over the world settle in for the Christmas holidays, people will reach for classic and new Christmas books. Of course it’s impossible to say if there’s a “best” Christmas book (although we’d love to hear about your family’s favorite in the comments!), but here are a few of the greats, both old and new.

1. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg—The Polar Express has been an international bestseller for 20 years. In 1986, it was awarded the Caldecott Medal as it was placed on the New York Times bestseller list. There have been more than 6.5 million copies sold across the world. It’s about a young boy who is too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus drops by and takes him and other children to the North Pole. The adventure the children go on makes even adults want to believe in Santa again.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss—The tale of the Grinch and his quest to steal Christmas from the merry Whos down in Whoville has become a modern classic. Rendered in Seuss’s trademark rhyme, your heart will grow three sizes as the Grinch learns the true meaning of Christmas. This book is best suited for children between the ages of 5 and 9.

3. Joy to the World by Ann Keay Beneduce and Gennady Spirin—Joy to the World is a compilation of stories, poems, carols, and Bible passages that bring families closer together to reflect on and celebrate the meaning of the first Christmas.

4. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore—Clement C. Moore’s version of The Night Before Christmas has made the New York Times bestseller list for 10 years straight. Just about everyone knows of the story in which a father is awoken by the clatter of hooves on his roof and runs into a right jolly old elf in his family room.

5. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin—Published in 2012, families snapped up more than 200,000 copies of this contemporary Christmas story that year. Pete the Cat is sure to be a popular pick for children because of its cute and entertaining storyline and illustrations. The story explains why getting into the Christmas spirit is the right and “groovy” thing to do.


  • The Polar Express is one of the most popular Christmas books in the world.
  • Joy to the World has a variety of Christmas related stories, poems, and songs that will interest just about any child.
  • The Night Before Christmas is one of the most popular books read on Christmas Eve.
  • Pete the Cat is a newer book, but its uniqueness is what brings it forward as one of the best Christmas books for children this holiday season.

Last reviewed by Kristie Rivers, MD, FAAP. Review Date: September 2020


  1. Publishers Weekly. The Bestselling Children’s Books of 2012.
  2. Amazon. The Polar Express.
  3. Baylor University. Christmas Children’s Books.
  4. Google Books. The Night Before Christmas.


  1. I came across a book today called The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie. It teaches young children the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not just about receiving during the holidays. This book teaches the importance of helping and giving to others. It even comes with a sparkle box fold-out. 🙂

  2. Had to add a new favorite of ours this year – Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury. It’s got 4 or 5 of her stories in one, and the illustrations are beautiful!

  3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


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