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Deck the Bookshelves: A December Reading List of Picture Books

Updated: Jan 7

As the holiday season approaches, what better way to get into the festive spirit than by curling up with some heartwarming picture books? To help you create a cozy December reading list, we have compiled a collection of 26 charming and enchanting stories that are perfect for this time of year. From tales of snowmen and reindeer to stories of love and kindness, these picture books will surely bring joy and wonder to readers of all ages. So, get ready to deck the bookshelves with these delightful read alouds and add a touch of magic to your December reading list.

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Christmas Holiday books for kids

Psst... Don't forget to scroll down to download a free printable of our December Reading List

Here are 26 Books to Read This December:

by Jory John

It's time for the annual book exchange, but when Cool Bean has to come up with the coolest present for the coolest bean, Beanadette, he doesn't feel festive - he feels stressed. Beanadette is expecting the coolest present ever, will he find the best gift for the coolest bean?

by Kenard Pak

The perfect book to read the day before winter or on the first day of winter. Greet the new winter season along with a pair of siblings as they explore nature and stroll through their town noticing all the changes that come with the arrival of winter. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter is a fantastic picture book that can spark conversation about seasonal changes found in nature.

by Clement Clarke Moore

This beautifully illustrated book is an adaptation of a classic holiday tale, it uses the words of Clement Clarke Moore's poem, A Visit From St. Nicolas" and adds a beautiful and modern style. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas makes a beautiful gift to read the night before Christmas.

by Bethany Brevard

Small Acts of kindness can make a big impact!

Join a little mouse who scurries around the house doing good deeds in preparation for Christmas. These good deeds include tucking baby Jesus in the manger, cooling the hot cocoa for Santa, taste-testing the cookies, and more!

by Sherri Duskey Rinker

This adorably illustrated story follows Excavator and his friends as they build a new home for the fire engines. While they work hard to make the home for the fire engines, they each receive a Christmas surprise of their own. Children and parents enjoy reading this Christmas night story full of rhyme and magic.

by Sheri Wall

Spend the holidays with Silly Milly! At her family's Christmas dinner, she greets the guests, takes a peek at the present, she even sings Christmas carols! Milly is most definitely on Santa's nice list. Filled with lyrical texts, vibrant art, and fun repetitions Silly Milly is a wonderful read-aloud for elementary classrooms.

by Stacy C. Bauer

Cami and Wyatt Share the Christmas Spirit is a heartwarming story about spreading joy and kindness. Cami and Wyatt love all things Christmas. They love Santa, the decorations, and the cookies. This year, Cami and Wyatt notice that their neighbors seem sad. Can this lovable duo figure out how to share the true meaning of Christmas?

by Phyllis Alsdurf

A story that encourages children and families to focus on simple pleasures, such as connection, community, care, and generosity. In this heartwarming story, a little girl is unsure about Christmas when she finds out that her family is planning a simple Christmas. Throughout the story, she gets into the spirit of simplicity and generosity by doing things for others and making things with her family. As a bonus, the book includes step-by-step directions for creating handmade Christmas gifts.

by Pete Oswald and Justin K. Thompson

Illustrated by Pete Oswald, who you may recognize from The Bad Seed, Mingo the Flamingo is a hilarious story about a migrating flamingo. Mingo gets separated from the rest of the flock. Even worse, he loses his memory when he crashes! With help and training from his new friends, he finds the strength to fly back home to his family.

by Chris Van Allsburg

A young boy is welcomed aboard a magical train headed to the North Pole where he will make his Christmas wish. The Polar Express is a must-read award-winning classic holiday story.

by Robert Barry

Mr. Willowby's Christmas tree is here! But the tree is too big for his parlor! What does he do? He cuts off the top, and it's passed along again and again by all the animals in the forest bringing holiday cheer to the forest friends. Readers will enjoy observing how the tree moves from home to home and the subtle message of conservation and recycling.

by Ben Clanton

Dive into the spirit of the holidays with Narwhal as he celebrates his favorite season of all. Much like a child is excited about the arrival of Santa Claus, Narwhal is excited about the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn (part mermaid, part unicorn, and totally awesome). As usual, Ben Clanton does a fantastic job at delivering funny and engaging stories for children.

by Matt Tavares

Who knew Dasher used to be part of a traveling circus? She spends her days in the hot sun longing for a different life. She longed for a life filled with snow and magic. One day, Dasher seizes the opportunity to make her dreams come true, and after that, nothing will ever be the same.

by Karma Wilson

Bear has a hard time staying awake during the winter, but his friends are determined to keep him awake for Christmas. Wait and see who ultimately stays awake and gives his friends a wonderful Christmas. Bear Stays Up for Christmas is a beautiful book filled with many conversation starters, such as the power of gift-giving, friendship, why Bear was having trouble staying awake and more.

by Mo Willems

Kids' favorite pigeon is back! If you're looking for a holiday book that will bring giggles and laughs to your young child, then look no further than Don't Let the Pigeon drive the Sleigh! by Mo Willems. It's a holiday twist to Mo Willems' Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus.

by Erin Guendelsberger

The Little Red Sleigh is a combination of the Little Engine that Could and The Polar Express. A heart-warming story about a sleigh who's been told all her life that she was too small, too young, can't fly, and would definitely not meet Santa. This Christmas, with the help of her friends, she is determined to triumph.

by Ryan Higgins

Bruce may be a lot of things, but he most certainly is NOT Santa Clause. However, in another case of mistaken identity, the whole forest is lining up to give Bruce their Christmas wishes. Award-winning author-illustrator Ryan Higgins delivers another hilarious story about grumpy Bruce.

by Patricia Toht

Christmas festivities begin by picking a tree! Pick a Pine Tree is a rhyming poetic picture book filled with colorful illustrations on each page that celebrate the beginning of Christmas. An excellent read-aloud for lower elementary!

Holiday spirit crackles in Toht’s warm, step-by-step recounting of how humble stately pines transform into shimmering Christmas trees...Jarvis’s chalk and pencil texturing adds to the sense of a casual, homey holiday filled with traditions many families will recognize.
—Publishers Weekly

by Gideon Sterer

A charming story based on the true story of the owl found inside the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. When the little Owl's home is cut down, because people thought it would make a wonderful tree, she is not really digging Christmas anymore. She is then saved by a woman named Ellen, who has a home gleefully decorated for the holidays. Will the little owl ever feel Christmas cheer again? The Christmas Owl is a story about kindness and regaining the Christmas spirit.

by Edward Hemmingway

A celebration of being you!

Touch Cookie puts a twist on a holiday classic. Freshly out of the oven, the little cookie looks sweet and tasty. But when Fox catches him, they discover that the little cookie is actually not as delicious as he looked. What will the unsavory cookie do?

by Courtney Petruzzelli

Santa has invited you to be a part of the Secret Santa Team. Your job is to spread Christmas cheer! Secret Santas and The Twelve Days of Christmas Giving is a wonderful book that teaches young readers that Christmas is about the spirit of giving.

by Julia Zheng

A perfect Christmas book about Kindness and gratitude.

It's a snowy night, and Bird, Rabbit, Farmer, and Traveler need a helping hand. Luckily, Snowman is there to help! But when the next day comes, the sun melts Snowman. Bird, Rabbit, Farmer, and Traveler work as a team to help rebuild Snowman.

by Lu Fraser

WINNER of Oscar's Book Prize 2021!

On the tip of the mountain lives a little yak named Gertie. She was the littlest yak of them all. Gertie was feeling stuck in her smallness and wanted to have bigness and tallness. When it turns out that there are Gertie is the only one who can do certain things, will she realize that she is perfect the way she is? The Littlest Yak is a joyful and heartwarming story that teaches young readers to love who they are.

by Mac Barnett

The main focus is, as the title suggests, answering the intriguing question: how does Santa, a chubby, jolly fellow, go down thin chimneys to deliver presents to children worldwide? The way the author goes about explaining this, through charming narratives and stunning visuals, creates an aura of magic and intrigue.

The book uses simple, easy-to-understand language, making it an excellent choice for children learning to read and fostering their love for books. It is an entertaining read that ignites kids' imaginations and encourages them to embrace the wonder of childhood beliefs. How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? offers not only an engaging read but also gives a great way for parents to bond with their kids during the holiday season.

by Vivian Walsh

Join the adorable Olive in her hilarious adventure to help Santa and his reindeer deliver presents.

by Kyo Maclear

Charlie dreams of finding a wish tree. Along with his best buddy, Boggan, Charlie sets on a journey to find a wish tree. Along the way, Charlie discovers that wishes can come true in the most unexpected way. An inspiring picture book that evokes the true spirit of the holiday season.

December reading list for kids free printable

Happy Reading!

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