The sun shone brightly outside as my grandmother and I browsed the shelves of a little downtown shop. Suddenly, Grandmama stopped and plucked a paperback book from the top of a shelf. I leaned over her shoulder and glimpsed an image of a dog and the title – Poor Jack – just as Grandmama opened the book. The story was a Christmas one. Much to my surprise, Poor Jack was set in a small town in Louisiana, and was written by a local author, and illustrated by a local artist. In a minute, we had finished reading the book. Grandmama and I smiled, and as she set the book back onto the shelf, I tucked it away in my mind for the future. Seven months later, I was again shopping downtown, this time with Mama, Grandmama, and my sister. I spied a copy of Poor Jack in an antique shop and showed it to Mama, saying, “See, this is the book I told you about.” After flipping through the book, Mama decided it would be a good addition to our family’s ever-growing collection of Christmas books.
Collecting Christmas books is an endless task. There are so many rich or fun or special stories involving this holiday. Here is a list of some of my favorite Christmas books. For more Christmas literature recommendations, click here.
Devotionals for Christmastime
A Classic Nativity Devotional / compiled by James Stuart Bell
As its subtitle explains, this book is “a collection of timeless Christmas readings.” It includes poems, hymns, and adaptations of sermons by Augustine, Martin Luther, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, and others.
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent / John Piper
An excellent book to read during advent. With each short chapter, John Piper reminds readers of what Christmas truly means to the world and to the Church.
A Graphic Novel
Herobear and the Kid / Mike Kunkel
The Story of Christmas / from the King James Bible (illustrated by Pamela Dalton)
This book melds the two Christmas stories from Matthew and Luke into one continuous narrative. Pamela Dalton’s cut-paper artwork creates a beautiful accompaniment to the story of Christ’s birth.
Christmas Is Here / from the King James Bible (illustrated by Lauren Castillo)
A fun book perfect for children with large, cheery illustrations. It includes a portion of the Matthew Nativity narrative, but uses more pictures than words to tell the story.
Christmas in the Country / Cynthia Rylant (illustrated by Diane Goode)
The story of a little girl’s Christmas with her grandparents in the country.
The Twelve Days of Christmas / illustrated by Gennady Spirin
Gennady Spirin combines the well-known words of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with rich illustrations.
Poor Jack / George Rhymes (illustrated by Ellen G. Howell)
Meet Jack, a dog who hates fireworks, and who lives in a city that loves them. With humorous illustrations and a story in poem form, this is a great book for children.
The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler’s Sons / Ruth Sawyer (illustrated by Barbara Cooney)
A delightful story involving a legendary but mischievous goblin king who visits the three sons of a poor cobbler one Christmas Eve.
The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween / Ruth Sawyer (illustrated by Max Grafe)
This magical tale, set in Ireland around the time of the Irish Potato Famine, tells the story of Oona Hegarty, a woman whose lifelong dream is to have a home of her own.
A Short Story
The Gift of the Magi / O. Henry (illustrated by P. J. Lynch)
Combine beautiful illustrations with a beautiful story, and this is what results. P. J. Lynch’s artwork brings O. Henry’s spectacular story to life.