Christmas Books Every Toddler Needs

The countdown to Christmas has begun, and I guess that means I need to start shopping!  When it comes the holidays, I’ve always been pretty traditional, and even more so now with Addie.  I want to recreate all the traditions I had with my family growing up, so she can have the same experiences I cherish so much.  Each year my parents would get us a book that was from them, and not from Santa.  The book was always a beautiful, hardcover classic.  Those were books we never donated or sold when it was time to purge old toys and books.  Most of those books (the ones that weren’t lost or ruined because children), I still have today.  Those books are also the reason I figured out that Santa wasn’t real.  I remember reading a note from Santa and then a note from my Mom in my book of the year, and realizing the handwriting was the same.  BUSTED!  If you ever saw her handwriting, you’d know that it’s surprising that it took me 11 years to notice. 

Now that we have Adeline, we’re going to continue this tradition.  A little bit about me, especially if you’re new here! Each night I climb into bed after my insanely long day, put on Bravo or some dark documentary and do 1 of 3 things; work on this blog, edit photos, or research.  I really can get myself into a research rabbit hole.  Over Thanksgiving we went out with my cousins and the boys talked about how they can go down a rabbit hole reading the comments under a political post on Facebook, then start looking at that person’s profile, and get lost.  I am the same way, except with medical stuff and early intervention.  I know, it’s not something to brag about and is borderline crazy but I read about 25 articles before I registered for the bottles I wanted to use for Addie. 

So, my Christmas book research began, I wanted to know what the classics were, what kind of books would grow with her, I read reviews, and considered the educational benefit.  I also included books we already have.   Like I mentioned before we have a closet filled with just Addie's books, and each new season or month. I rotate all of her books to fit the season, holiday, weather, or whatever is going on.  The kindergarten teacher in me is still very much alive.  On each level of the house Addie has curated books that are either meaningful to her or what is happening around her.  

I tried to make this as easy as pie for you so if you like the book, click on the image, and buy!!!! 

The Polar Express

Chris Van Allsburg’s books appeal to adults just as much as children.  While the illustrations are stunning, I probably appreciate them more than Adeline.  This book will be something you can read to your child again and again over the years.  Basically, a boy is woken up on a Christmas Eve by a train on its way to the North Pole,   Santa offered the first gift of year and the hero of the story chose a single bell from Santa’s sleigh.  It’s a classic, heartwarming, and a staple of every child’s library.

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.
— Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express

Merry Christmas Little Hoo This book is perfect for a little one but also for a beginning reader.  The owl can't sleep because of noises he hears outside.  He imagines they are Santa's sleigh bells, the reindeer and other Christmas related sounds. On the next pages it does tell you what the sounds are from so it also good for making predictions. 

The Littlest Elf This story is about the smallest elf trying to find his niche in the North Pole, but he keeps messing up everything he tries. He wonders if he will be good at anything!  He meets the smallest reindeer and they find a special job delivering gifts.  The story has a great moral, and hits close to home to me since Addie is extra little.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Christmas 123 This book is perfect to add to your Hungry Caterpillar collection and is a bright and colorful counting book with Christmas/winter vocabulary; Christmas trees, snowmen, penguin, etc.) The other thing I like is the number words are printed as numbers and spelled out and it can teach 1:1 correspondence and eight means 8, etc.

Where is Baby’s Christmas Present Addie loves this book for the second year.  Baby is looking everywhere for the Christmas present—but where can it be? Little ones will love lifting the large, sturdy flaps to reveal special, holiday surprises: Christmas cookies, candy canes, ornaments, and the flaps are large enough for little hands to grab and manipulate. I also like that each flap reveals not only a new image but also additional text. The text has a refrain to it, and that sort of repetition is great for future readers.

It’s Christmas David Quick book with about two sentences per page so it’s good for an inattentive toddler or for a beginning reader.   The premise is cute, it shows little David doing some naughty things at Christmas time (a time when children usually try to be on their best behavior). In one picture, David is seen peeking at his presents and in another, David is seen running out in the street without much on. Will David get coal in his stocking or presents under the tree?

Merry Christmas Touch and Feel I love these books for teaching language, building vocabulary, its interactive with different textures and great for baby or your toddler. 

Olivia Helps with Christmas Being helpful during the holidays is exhausting as Olivia waits for Santa, sets up the tree, makes dinner, assists with stockings, and opens her presents!  If you like Olivia books you will like this one, illustrations are simple and clean.

Bad Kitty Christmas It’s a play on the Twas the Night Before Christmas but for cat lovers.  The bad kitty does typical kitty things and I like how the author incorporates the alphabet into the book.  It is a little dense for Addie but we just read bits and pieces and talk about the pictures in the book. 

Little cat, this what Christmas should be. It’s not about stuff from a big spending spree. It’s not about presents all over the place. It’s not about food or stuffing your face. Like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Eid, you see, Christmas is all about...FAMILY.
— Nick Bruel, Bad Kitty Christmas

Bear Stays Up for Christmas This author does everything right, and has the ability to write rhyme that’s so engaging and just dances off the page.  Bear’s hibernate in winter, but Bear’s friends are determined to keep him awake for Christmas by distracting him with Christmas activities, baking, hanging up stockings, singing.  He stays up and realizes that giving is one of the best Christmas presents!

Christmas Wish for Corduroy This is perfect if you love Corduroy and adds the perfect amount of holiday flare.  It’s a prequel to the original, and you learn how Corduroy gets his famous overalls and how he gets his famous name. This is a heartwarming story about the power of hope, perseverance, and friendship. 

Tractor Mac Saves Christmas Another adventure where Tractor Mac helps the whole town and shows the animals and people that situations aren't always what they seem.  Good for ages 2-5 and even though it’s a little wordy for Addie she likes the farm animals, tractors, and I just modify the text as I read it. 

Dear Santa This book is good for many ages.  It follows the same structure as his other popular book Dear Zoo.  It’s a flap book whereby Santa is deciding on a present to send but for some reason or another the presents he wraps are not quite right. Santa finally arrives at a perfect present with an extra special surprise under the flap. Toddlers will enjoy lifting the flaps, children ages 3-5 will enjoy guessing what the presents could be by the descriptions given in the book, it’s a good introduction to descriptive language and is repetitive making it a useful book for guided reading.

Dream Snow I’m an Eric Carle groupie, I love him.  Addie adores the interactive nature of this book. You lift the snow-blanket (flaps) to discover what farm animals this farmer has.  When I taught kindergarten, the kids thought it was funny that the animals were named One, Two, Three, Four, & Five. pictures are in Carle's trademark richly colored and textured collages and the premise of the story is about a farmer wondering how Christmas can come without snow.

Twas the Night Before Christmas This is a classic and the most popular Christmastide themed poems ever written. The poem was originally published anonymously in  1823 and portrayed St. Nicholas, in an air-borne sleigh pulled by eight reindeer visiting houses and distributing toys for children on the Christmas Eve told through the eyes of a father. The poetry is short and simple and its said this poem inspired Santa Claus’s look.  Another staple

My First Christmas Really simple Christmas book for the very young. Illustrations are warm, uncluttered, and it focuses on the joys of the traditions of this special holiday.  From decorating the tree to putting cookies out for Santa, the Christmas spirit is beautifully captured by Tomie dePaola.

Merry Christmas Little One Addie loves the books by this author and this is the newest addition to Sandra Magsamen Snuggle- Me- Stories.  It has sensory components; lift the flaps, puffy Christmas tree on the cover, glitter.  The book is in her signature style, rhymes and has engaging illustrations.

Also a Dr. Seuss groupie, and this one is a classic that should belong to every library.   This needs no explanation, but shares the true meaning of Christmas using a cranky character, rhyme, and its written by a brilliant imagination. 

Illustrations are beautiful in this rhyming book and the story is about how snowmen celebrate Christmas after everyone goes to bed.  This is about wordy for Adeline, but I modify the text and she loves it!  For an extra bonus, there are hidden animals on each page. 

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
— -Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

How do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas I adore the “How Do Dinosaurs Say….” Series about expected and unexpected behaviors.  In this story, we have a bunch of dinosaurs celebrating Christmas and at first, all the naughty actions are presented (do dinosaurs sneak peeks at presents or trash the tree?), but these are quickly dismissed as dinosaurs are much more polite than than (they "carol with care" and go to sleep on time).   It’s a good story to talk with your kids about before/during the holiday madness. 

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas When I taught kindergarten, the kids LOVED Pete the Cat.  I was surprised that Addie also loves him and you will like it even more if you listen it being read to music. In this book, it’s a spin of the traditional Christmas tale “The Night before Christmas,” where Santa is too ill to deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve and must enlist Pete the Cat to help. He's laid back and cool with beautiful and colorful illustrations.

The Christmas Wish This is a gorgeous winter/Christmas book by Lori Evert with photographs of her daughter by her husband, Per Breiehagen. This book is about a girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa's elves so she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday. She encounters a variety of animals; from a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. This book is a little advanced for Adeline, but I modify the text, and she loves looking at the photos.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell A Christmas version of the classic, “There was an Old Lady” song but this time the hungry old lady swallows a bell, bows, gifts, a sack, a sleigh, and some reindeer! She's about to swallow a candy cane for dessert, when she hears a jolly "Ho! Ho! Ho!" Santa Claus is waiting for a ride! With rhyming text and funny illustrations, Addie loves these books.

Fa La La Addie really likes the Baby books by Leslie Patricelli.  A fun introduction to the vocabulary of Christmas and Baby the holiday activities that are the reason he loves Christmas. The pictures are colorful and filled with silly moments. The final page is arranged with vocabulary and matching pictures are perfect learning opportunities.

Little Blue Trucks Christmas We love Little Blue Truck and in this series Blue Truck is spreading cheer by delivering Christmas trees to his animal friends. With the gentle rhythm and signature illustration style that made Little Blue Truck a household name, compact and child-friendly text, and flashing colored Christmas lights are a hit! The rhyming stanzas are sweet, simple, and full of numbers and animal noises that children will enjoy. The illustrations are cozy and colorful; looking at them just makes you feel warm inside.