Favorite Christmas Stories – Review Page

Our priority at MoneySmartFamily is to help readers improve their finances and we partner with companies that could help you. Some links on this page are from our partners. Read how we earn money here.

This Page contains a growing list of our favorite Christmas stories!

Christmas is absolutely, hands down our favorite time of the year and our favorite holiday. We celebrate all year by reading Christmas stories, listening to Christmas music and buying Christmas presents.

The books on this page help remind us of the true reason for the season we love so much.

1. A Christmas Carol

We can’t imagine the Christmas season without reading or watching this timeless classic. Many have seen various versions of the movie “A Christmas Carol,” but reading the book gives you greater insight into the thoughts and motivation of the characters.

If you haven’t read this book or seen the movie (we favor the George C. Scott version) — it’s a must for this holiday season.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a crusty, hard-heartened businessman who hates Christmas and his fellow man as well. He is a very demanding employer and is barely persuaded to allow his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit, to have Christmas day off to spend with his family. Scrooge also ridicules his nephew Fred’s holiday cheer, and anyone else who seems to be enjoying the season.

Scrooge’s heart is softened as he is visited by three Christmas spirits who show him his past, present, and future. He realizes that he should do more than just earn and hoard money, he should help his fellow man. Always a great reminder no matter what your age or earning ability. Some parts of this story might be scary for young children.  Written by  Charles Dickens  

2. Christmas In My Heart – Series

Christmas in my heart book series

The christmas in my heart seriesChristmas in my Heart series is a treasury of old-fashioned Christmas stories should be sold with boxes of tissues. They all contain touching stories that revolve around the Christmas season. Each volume contains about twelve short stories. They make for great reading around the dinner table or fireplace.

These stories aren’t just for families with children. Many of these stories do just that. They talk about healing relationships, celebrating Christmas on a shoestring budget, holiday traditions and the roles they play in families. They also help us remember that our lives can truly impact others for good.

The stories Joe Wheeler collected range from one to three tissues on Annette’s touching story scale. These are truly some of our most favorite Christmas stories of all time.

This is an ever-increasing series. When we last checked there were 18 volumes of stories. Click here to see the entire list.  Compiled and edited by Joe L. Wheeler 

3. Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a very touching story. Since the time her husband died, Mrs. Otter and her son Emmet have been trying to eke out a living. She does laundry for others and he uses tools left to him by his father to do odd jobs and handyman repairs. Christmas is just around the corner and there isn’t any money for buying presents. Both Emmet and his mother learn of a talent contest with a large cash prize for the winner. Unbeknownst to each other, they both enter the contest, hoping to win the prize. Emmet wants to give his mother a wonderful Christmas present and she dreams of doing the same for him.

There are several twists and turns to the story, with an unexpected, but happy ending. It’s a story of love, sacrifice, and devotion — oh, and there’s also a little plotting and sneaky behavior thrown in to add to the drama. This is a must read for all ages. Every public library should have a copy.

This book is currently out of print and can be very expensive. If you can’t find it inexpensively on Amazon, check out Ebay and Half.

It has also been made into an excellent “puppet” movie, by Jim Henson Productions — on video and DVD.  

The original story was written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Lillian Hoban 

4. Follow the Star

Follow the Star is a terrific interactive book for kids ages two to six. It has many hands-on activities for a child to touch as you read the Christmas story. The first page has a cardboard angel that lifts out of a pocket. Inside is the message that was given by the angel to Mary.

\The town of Bethlehem has little doors for the child to flip open. Behind each door is a message or person telling Mary and Joseph that all the rooms are full. Another page has shepherd’s in a field with a six-piece puzzle that pulls out of a pocket/cloud, to make up the angel choir singing out the message of Christ’s birth.

This book was one of our kid’s all-time favorites when they were younger. Each year during the holidays, we would receive numerous requests to read it over and over again. And we gladly did read it until we all had the book memorized!  Written by Alan and Linda Parry  

5. Gus and Grandpa and the Christmas Cookies


Gus and Grandpa and the Christmas Cookies is a great holiday story. And they really love baking Christmas cookies together. As a matter of fact, hey get goofy when they’re together. They yell at the dough when it sticks and they both eat it raw from the bowl (doesn’t everyone do this?). Gus and Grandpa’s relationship is really special. But the best part of the story is the lesson Gus learns about sharing his abundance with those less fortunate. Your kids will love it. Written by Claudia Mills and illustrated by Catherine Stock 

6. Santa Are You For Real?

Santa Are You For Real is a delightful book for kids that takes the common cultural icons of Christmas, specifically St. Nicholas, and traces them back to their roots and then introduces the spiritual side of this special persona of the Christmas holiday. The presentation is very tactful and positive. The explanations are written in such a way that children can easily grasp them. Annette just can’t imagine any household with kids that wouldn’t benefit from reading this book.  Written by Harold Myra and illustrated by Jane Kurisu 

7. The Berenstain Bear’s Christmas Tree

The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree is a delightful story about two of the meanings of Christmas — giving to others and valuing them. The Bear family starts out thinking that the biggest tree and the most decorations will make them happiest at Christmas time. They learn a different lesson and all of Bear Country is better because of it. The illustrations are well done and the cadence of the poetry makes the story easy to read.

The other Berenstain Bear books teach great lessons too (there are just a couple of lines in some books that don’t fit with our family’s views). But overall they are a solid choice for teaching values to kids.  Written By Stan and Jan Berenstain 

8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

InThe Best Christmas Pageant Everan unkempt little pre-teen angel cries out, “Hey everybody, unto you a child is born!” It may be “unorthodox” but is it touching as you read or watch the transformation of bullying street urchins into sensitive, tearful little children.

The transformation starts as a small community church prepares to put on their annual children’s Christmas Pageant for their Christmas Eve service. Things begin to go haywire when the mother who coordinates the pageant is hospitalized and has to hand over control of the event to someone else. The expected casting is thrown to the wind when a tough bunch of kids from a welfare family shows up, expecting free food if they participate in the pageant, and wanting to have the lead roles.

The movie version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever stars Loretta Swit who starred in M*A*S*H and is really fun to watch. This really is a must see or read for every family, even if you have no children at home. 

9. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

“Christmas is pish-posh,” grumbles Jonathan Toomey, the best woodcarver in the valley. “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” is about a grumpy wood carver and a little boy who wins his heart will touch your heart also.

Jonathan Toomey has moved to a small town to forget his past –a past which included a wife and baby – both of whom have died. One day he is approached by the Widow McDowell and her little boy, Thomas. They ask him to carve a nativity set for them, to replace one that was lost. The little boy wants to watch the master craftsman as he carves, so he can learn to carve too. The boy is very concerned that Mr. Toomey carves the animals and people with correct facial expressions. He learns to ask questions carefully and Mr. Toomey begins to accept the questions and the boy. Through time, kindness and love, the woodcarver’s heart softens and his healing begins – he’s no longer called Mr. Gloomy by the neighborhood children.

Although the subject matter is “deep”, children of all ages will enjoy this story. The illustrations are beautifully rendered watercolors. This book gets a two tissue rating on Annette’s touching story scale.  Written by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Is it possible that the Movie was Better than the Book?

While we think reading the story is the best way to enjoy this book, there has been a movie made from the book too, and honestly, we think that the movie is even better than the book. It’s definitely one of our favorite Christmas movies of all time.

Get The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey on BluRay here

You’ve got to see it! Here’s a preview.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Mavrika1.  

10. The Christmas Stories of George MacDonald

The Christmas Stories of George  MacDonald” contains seven stories all written around Christmas themes. MacDonald is a masterful storyteller.

His descriptions of people and scenes will help a young reader truly experience the events described.

C.S. Lewis revered George MacDonald’s writing and teaching. MacDonald said of his own writing, “I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.”

The main story in this book is about a young boy named Charlie. Charlie tells of his relationship with his eccentric Uncle Peter, who was born on Christmas day, and celebrated every day as if it were Christmas. MacDonald’s stories have the feel of Dickens with the light of C.S. Lewis. They are enjoyable and inspiring for kids and adults.  Written by George MacDonald  

11. The Little Book of Christmas Joys

The Little BookBook of Christmas Joysis darling! You can read it in just a couple of hours. It is stuffed full of 432 ideas for making the Christmas season special. It also includes some yummy recipes.

There are too many ideas for any one family to implement, but is great brain food for the creative spark you might need. Pick a couple new ideas each year and keep the ones that work. Let your kids read it at the breakfast or lunch table, you’ll be surprised at the ideas they bring to your attention. It’s also an awesome resource for conversation starters at the dinner table. 

12. The Night AFTER Christmas

A friend loaned us a copy of The Night After Christmas and we were amazed at the great illustrations. After scanning a couple of pages of the poem we knew we needed to include it on our holiday book list

Jim Chapman got the idea for writing this poem from a letter written by Jim Elliot (later a martyred missionary) to his wife, Elisabeth where he said,  “Seems to me we would have a better attitude toward the whole thing if someone would write a realistic poem on the ‘Night After Christmas’ to counterbalance the magical effects of the imaginative “Night Before.”

Jim Chapman spent years presenting this parody on “The Night Before Christmas” as a one-man play to help families re-focus on the true meaning of the holiday. And now he has finally written it down for all of us to enjoy.

About the Poem

Basically, he traces the thoughts of an unnamed father as he observes the fall out in his home on the day after Christmas. Wrapping paper was strewn around, children playing video games, happy in the thoughts of all they had received, and the realization that he has spent way too much on things that bring little peace or joy into his household.

Later in the story, he is confronted with an unexpected visitor who reminds him of that the true meaning of Christmas is not found in the spending, the getting or even the giving of gifts, but in THE Gift that was given from a loving Heavenly Father desperately wanting to reconnect with his lost children.

 A poignant message presented with tenderness and a little bit of humor makes this book a good read for any family that believes that we should keep Christ in Christmas.

You’ll get a feel for the book by reading the first few lines of the poem:

‘Twas the night after Christmas and no one had reason
To scramble or scurry to wrap up the season.

The wrapping was done. The gifts were presented.
Excitable children were calmed and contented.

Parties and concerts and diners abated;
The flood of festivities finally had faded.

The house was a mess with boxes galore
And ribbons and wrapping that littered the floor.
The children didn’t care. They relished the notion
That Christmas meant presents and joyful commotions.

But for me, I was bummed that once more I had shunned
The spending constraints in the holiday fund.

You’ll have to pick up a copy of the book to get the rest of the story.
Written by: Jim Chapman and Illustrated by Jay Montgomery. 

13. The 24 Days Before Christmas

The 24 Days Before Christmasis a book about the value of traditions. Each of the 24 days preceding Christmas Day Vicky Austin and her family does one special thing to prepare for Christmas.

But this year Vicky is concerned that her family’s traditions will be changed because her parents are preparing for the birth of a new little brother or sister after the new year. But what if the baby comes early . . . what if momma can sing us to sleep on Christmas Eve with her wonderful carols – will Christmas be the same?

We love this book and love all of the traditions it includes. You may be inspired to create some new traditions for your family too. Written by Madeleine L’Engle and illustrated by Jill Weber. 

14. The Pine Tree Parable

The Pine Tree Parable is a darling story about a farmer and his family who own a Christmas Tree farm. They nurture and grow the majestic trees from seedlings to magnificent trees. The farmer’s wife has selected a beautiful tree for her family this year, and put a sign on it that it is not for sale.

A poor family with a young daughter comes to the farm to pick a tree from the “free” section. These are damaged trees that the farmer knows won’t sell because of odd shapes or broken branches. But the little girl wanders from the free section and falls in love with the perfect tree. The farmer’s wife tells the little girt that the tree is not for sale . . . but then gives it as a gift to the family. The true meaning of sacrifice and generosity is made clear in this one selfless action and both families walk away blessed by the true meaning of Christmas. Written by  Liz Curtis Higgs and illustrated by Nancy Munger 

15. The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy


This Reading Rainbow book “The Puppy who wanted a Dog” is a wonderful Christmas story with a twist. Instead of a child wishing for a puppy, it is the story of a puppy who wishes for a child. First published in 1958 and updated with beautiful illustrations, our kids have wanted us to read this story over and over. Of course, it has a happy ending. Written by Jane Thayer and illustrated by Lisa McCue 

16. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

The Legend of the Candy Cane is a lovely Holiday picture book for preschoolers and young grade school kids. It shares a possible story for how a candy shop opened up in a small town and change the entire holiday season for this community. It also shares a story for what a candy cane could symbolize with regard to a faith-based Christmas story. This book is beautifully illustrated by James Bernardin.

The Legend of the Candy Caneis also available as a board book.

If you’d like some ideas for Christmas Movies, click here.
And if you’d like some ideas for awesome Christmas music, click here.

If you have a favorite Christmas Book that isn’t listed, please mention it in the comment section and we’ll consider it for this page. 

Leave a Reply