You walk into a bookstore anytime in November or December and are inundated by the smell of eggnog-flavored coffee and stacks of Christmas picture books. Most of them are some variation of Santa, elves, reindeer, gift-giving, and good feelings.
But where are all the gospel-centered Christmas picture books? Where are the books that tell the story of Christmas in a way that stirs our imaginations and souls?
What is a Gospel-centered Christmas book?
I’m not talking about the books that just re-iterate the Christmas story in essentially the same way. Those are nearly a dime a dozen. I have several of those in my house, and the kids never want to read them, because they already know the facts.
Instead, I look for the ones that tell the story a little more expansively – books that share the meaning of Christmas, not just the details of Christmas.
Reading good quality Christian books to my kids is one of my favorite ways to remind them of their faith in a simple, non-overwhelming way. Children’s picture books are a great way to deepen your child’s faith roots without feeling like you have to KNOW it all or DO it all.
So let’s get to the list!
10 Gospel-Centered Christmas Picture Books:
Lift the Flap Nativity
This sturdy flap-book has been much-loved in our house! I love that it shares the Christmas story with very little editing. There are a ton of junky lift-the-flap books out there, but this one truly has a surprise under each flap. Your little one will discover kitties lapping up milk, a mouse on a soldier’s head, and many other silly and sweet treasures. The flaps on here are also fairly sturdy. This one has lasted through 3 toddlers!
M is for Manger
This unique alphabet book shares the story of Christmas while also teaching letters. Not only that, but it’s the only alphabet book you’ll find that manages to tell the story chronologically…and in rhyme. That’s an amazing feat of writing!
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger
Seriously, my all-time favorite Christian Christmas book. This book contains the gospel-centered story of a mouse that searches all over the house looking for a new home. He thinks he finds the perfect home in a nativity set, and is chagrined when the little statues keep taking back their space. When he overhears the family talking about the Christmas story, he realizes whose house he’s crashing, and makes room for the baby Jesus. You can see the heart change in the mouse during the story, which is why I love it so much. Plus, the unexpected twist at the end is pretty fun.
>>Related Reading: Help Your Child Put the “Christ” in Christmas!
This incredible Bible-spanning book traces God’s promise to Israel that he would give them a King, but of course, this king showed up in a very different way. It provides a sharp contrast between earthly kingdoms and Christ’s eternal kingdom. Plus, Catalina Echeverri’s cute and hiliarious illustrations are my favorite. They make a potentially very serious book incredibly fun.
The Sparkle Box: A Gift With The Power To Change Christmas
If you’re looking for a way to help your child see Christmas as a time to be generous, this book is perfect. The main character goes through his regular Christmas preparations and discovers that when he serves others out of Christ-like compassion, he has given a gift to Jesus! Plus, this book actually comes with a cardboard sparkle box in the back, so you can get your kids participating easily!
>>Related Reading: Try THIS instead of Elf on the Shelf
Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
I’ve gotta hand it to Sally Lloyd-Jones for once again using her lyrical writing style to put out a gorgeous book. This Christmas book brought me to tears because of the expansive message of what the Incarnation means, not just to humans, but to an entire broken planet. This may not be the more adorable Christmas picture book (although I love the illustration style), but it may be the most powerful in message.
Christmas Love Letters from God
We adore this entire series. The illustrations are wonderful, the writing style is almost as lyrical as Sally Lloyd-Jones but a little more story-like (so it’s better for younger children), and the lift-the-flap love letters always hit home. The little love letters have a way of peering into your deepest heart longings and will probably make you tear up as you read them! Warning – you may have to read the entire book in one sitting (like I have done) because your kids will love it so much!
Legend of the Candy Cane
If your kids love candy canes (and who doesn’t??), they’ll love this gospel-focused story of a mysterious candy maker who brings the entire community together with his new treat.
God Gave Us Christmas
Part of Lisa Tawn Bergren’s “God Gave Us” series, this one has little bear’s dad explaining the depth of the Christmas story, going all the way back to the promise about the “stump of Jesse”. I love that the illustrations of this book go along with some of the more abstract parts of the Christmas story, and that it shows how Jesus’ birth can make a true difference in our children’s lives.
One Wintry Night
If you’re looking for something longer, this book is chapter-book length, but with beautiful illustrations scattered throughout. The main character finds himself lost on a wintry night, and stumbles into the cabin of a woman who tells him the Christmas story in a way he’s never heard before!