10 Meaningful Character-Building Holiday Books for Children

10 Meaningful Character-Building Holiday Books for Children

The Joy of Reading to Your Children

Holiday books for children are a delightful way to learn about the true spirit of Christmas and the many blessings of the holiday season. Reading or simply looking at picture books is relaxing and enjoyable to children of all ages. The holidays can be busy, but books allow us to slow down and enjoy this precious time together while they are young.


My Christmas Book Basket

Kneeling on the floor, she dug enthusiastically into the Christmas boxes.

“Is this a new book, mom? I don’t remember this one.” She spoke cheerfully, holding up a copy of “Silver Packages.”

“Oh yes! It’s a new one for the book basket.”

We don’t have a lot of traditions in our home. But years ago, when my girls were little, I started a holiday book basket.

Throughout the years, I enjoyed searching for vintage Christmas classics at second-hand shops or asking friends for recommendations for meaningful holiday stories. My goal was to find one book every year to add to my basket.

Our oldest daughter is now twenty-one, so we have created quite the collection!


These are the Most Memorable Times

On cold evenings close to Christmas, they’d hurry over to choose a book before bed, grab a favorite snuggly blanket, and race to sit with me on the couch.

Those Christmases have come and gone. Now they are too big for my lap. My youngest is eleven and shows little interest in “The Best Christmas Tree Ever” or “Christmas is Coming Marley.”

We’ve replaced the bright colors and vivid imagery of children’s books with longer, meaningful Christmas stories that teach, inspire and build character.

Have you read The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey?” It’s our newest holiday book and about a man who most have forgotten.

Below is a list and description of twelve of the holiday books for children that are in my basket. Below each description, you’ll find why I chose it and what I love about it.

If you have a favorite, please leave me a comment below so I can consider it for next year!


10 Meaningful Holiday Books to Read to Children of all Ages

1. The Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum

"In the barn on Christmas Eve, after all the people leave, the animals in voices low, remember Christmas long ago."

This is a sweet book with rhythm and counting published by Little Golden Books in 1977. The barn animals retell the Christmas story from their point of view.

This book is perfect for ages 0 to 5.

 babys first christmas book little golden book the animals christmas eve

2. Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

This is a whimsical twist on the European tale, "The Gingerbread Boy." It's full of ornate imagery. The story is of a little boy named Mattie who under-bakes a gingerbread baby and his thoughtful plan to rescue him.

” When they arrived, all they found were crumbs. Is that all that remains of the gingerbread baby?”

Little children and adults alike will find themselves lost in the pages. Each time you read it; you’ll discover additional details.

Perfect hardcover book for ages 0-4. Love the detailed pictures!

christmas board books for toddlers the gingerbread baby no santa


3. Merry Christmas Curious George by Margret and H. A. Rey’s

When my middle daughter was young, curious George was her favorite. We bought this book because of her and the monkey she packed around.

My girls have always loved reading stories of this mischievous little monkey. In this delightful Christmas story, curious George

Recommended for all ages.


4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

how the grinch stole christmas character building holiday books

We picked this one up at an antique store while we were stationed in Georgia. I think most would overlook it when considering holiday books with meaning, but I think there are quite a few messages here we could teach our children.

Ages 3 and up

” Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”


5. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg (adopted by Pat Matuszak)

the legend of the candy cane a must have for christmas book collectors

This is a “must-have” for your Christmas collection. It’s the heart-felt story of how the candy cane got its name.

Children and adults alike will never look at a candy cane the same. They will remember the legend of how the candy man shared the good news with the townspeople.

” On that special night, the people shared the story of the candy cane. They shared the miracle of Christ’s birth and the mercy of God’s love.”

A classic for all ages, sharing the story of Jesus. One of my favorite books.


6. The Little Shepherd Girl a Christmas Story by Juliann Henry

You may not know, but the Lord found it best to bless us with all girls. I remember finding this book years ago and questioning if there would even be shepherd girls long ago.

Most stories tell of shepherd boys watching over the flock, not girls. But then I remembered Rachael was a shepherd before she married Jacob. The more I thought about it, I am sure there were families like mine in bible times.

“Just then, the flock rounded a bend and came to a sudden stop. It was a dead end. Helpless, Sarah stood in the darkness. It would be too difficult to turn the sheep around by herself. Tears stung her eyes as she looked up at the brilliant night sky.”

This is a twist to the classic story of the morning Jesus was born. It’s the story of how a young girl pleads with her father to let her tend to the flock.

Ages 2-10

 biblical stories about christmas the little shepherd girl

 Holiday Books for Older Children

7. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski


Sometimes in life, bad things happen that cause us to become someone we don't even know ourselves. This is a beautiful story of how the persistence of a child changed the heart of a hurt man.

” Why did he walk so hunched over and look gloomy all the time?”

Ages 2 and up

 heart-warming stories for christmas stories the christmas miracle of jonathan toomey

8. Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in Appalachia a character building Christmas book for kids

Have you heard of the Appalachian Christmas train? Every November a man rides the train through town and throws Christmas gifts wrapped in silver packages to the hard-working families that call this coal-town home.

“A train comes through Appalachia every year at Christmas time. People call it the Christmas train. And it has been passing through for years. Each new child born in the mountains learns to walk, talk and wait for the Christmas Train.”

This is a story full of wonder and delight. Ages 4 and up. I'd love to know what you would have asked for as a child if the Christmas train passed through your town.

9. Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

Christmas stories with character-building lessons for kids no santa

This is a heart-warming story of two individuals, special wishes, and family lost and found. As their stories become intricately woven together, both realize they desperately need the other in their life.

” Mrs. Jones looked at Ivy for a long time and tears came into her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Ivy wiped the tears with her glove and the emptiness went out of Ivy that very minute and never came back.”

This is a lengthy storybook so I am suggesting it for ages 5 to 7 as a “read-to-me" if broke up over a few days or 8 and up could read and enjoy it on their own.

10. A Little House Christmas

little house on the prairie holiday stories on the prairie

holiday stories from the little house series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

As a young girl, I remember reading the little house series. The stories of Christmas in Plum Creek or in the big woods always fascinated me. How ma and pa would save and pinch to be able to buy the girls a Christmas present. Or the stories of Mr. Edwards getting caught in a snowstorm with almost missing Christmas. The little house stories are a remembrance of a harder similar life. Where things were appreciated, and family and faith were everything.

Do you or your children have a favorite holiday storybook? I'd love to hear about books for my collection.

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