CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!! It’s time to pull out the tree! It’s time to hear the same seven songs on the radio all day every day and LOVE IT! It’s also time to pick out a Christian Christmas chapter book for your family faith-based Advent reading plan!
Christmas Chapter Books to Read Aloud for Any Timeline
There are a lot of awesome Advent devotionals and studies and activities available for families. Those are awesome! However, our family has found success by steering away from the more intense guided devotionals, and leaning into just reading a really great faith based Christmas chapter book together. It’s less pressure, and the kids love hearing a bit more of the story every day.
For each book I tell you why I liked it, what I didn’t like about, of course. I also have given the exact chapter length in case you’d like to find something that lines up for a certain time frame over Advent or the Christmas season. (If I had any specific age-range recommendations, I put that in the “length” section, too. In general, all of these could be read to any age child, because we have a bunch of kids all spread out, so we get it.)
Finally, under “Content Considerations,” I note anything from the book that I would have liked to know ahead of time. We have a sensitive listener in our family, so we’re pretty strict about content, but there are always things that might not be right for your family. As always, I recommend a good preview before you start reading aloud. (Here’s exactly how I preview chapter books, without reading the whole thing.)
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Christian Christmas Chapter Books for Families of All Ages
Treasures of the Snow by Patricia Mary St. John
Pros: Treasures of the Snow is a classic story of forgiveness. It takes place over several years and does not completely focus on Christmas. However, much of the action occurs in the winter and around Christmas festivities. Also, it has Snow in the title, so I’m counting it as a Christmas book.
Cons: If you are looking for a book with a subtle approach to the gospel, this is not the one for you. There’s a lot of preaching. However, if you want a Christmas story that will explicitly tell your kids how to come-to-Jesus, this book clearly tells the plan of salvation.
Length: There are 26 chapters and no pictures. If you have younger kids and don’t want to churn through more than a chapter a night, this could definitely take you from Thanksgiving to Christmas to get through. (I have not read this aloud to my toddler and preschooler yet, mainly because of the length.)
Content Considerations: Treasures of the Snow has some dark parts. There’s a mother’s death in the first chapter, and a crippling accident a few chapters later. Apparently living in a remote Swiss village in the early 1900s was not for the faint of heart, if you can believe that.
The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
Pros: Did you know The 101 Dalmatians was a Christmas story? Complete with a church and nativity set, and dogs feeling very moved by the baby in the manger? This classic Christmas story isn’t SUPER faith-based, but it does get at the reason for the season. Plus it’s just amazingly well written, and a tightly crafted story.
Cons: It is VERY British. I had to explain stuff to my kids sometimes. But overall they enjoyed the story, and it was no more explaining than I have to do when we read classic American literature.
The other con is that we watched the movie first, and it is not the same as the book. The dogs even have different names. Just a heads up if you’ve seen the classic Disney movie, it’s not exactly the same.
Length: There are 18 chapters in the book. Chapter 14 is the chapter that takes place on Christmas Eve, and the last 4 chapters take place on Christmas Day. (Also, to weed out the Disney stuff when you’re looking for this book, this classic novel is THE 101 Dalmatians, versus the Disney version being plain old 101 Dalmatians.)
Content Considerations: This was a different time, and animals weren’t treated as well as they are now. So, there are lots of references to furs and fur coats play a prominent role in the story. In addition, they talk about drowning puppies or kittens they do not want to keep. One character has had multiple litters of her kittens drowned, it’s just what people did. But the text makes it clear that this is distasteful, and not how it should be.
Additionally, when two dogs are going to have puppies, the author says they “got married.” Sometimes two dog only meet once at a park, “get married quickly,” then go their separate ways, and BAM! Puppies. Just FYI in case questions come up about where these puppies are coming from.
The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins by Karin Kaufman
Pros: Geraldine Woolkins is a young mouse growing up in a loving mouse family that loves God. This is the first book in the series about her, and coincidentally, ends with Christmas. I like the high writing style. It makes it perfect for a Christmas time read aloud book because the content and story line is meant for a young child, but the vocabulary puts it out of reach for most independent young readers.
Cons: They refer to God as, “Very Very Big Hands.” I think that’s weird. I just sub out, “God,” when that comes up in the text. But if your kids will understand that the animals are saying God made them, then go for it.
Length: This sweet chapter book is 10 chapters long. The LAST chapter is about Christmas, so you can plan for that to fall when you want. The chapters aren’t terribly long, but the writing style and vocabulary level is high. My 6 year old can sit through a whole chapter in one sitting, but my 3 year old taps out at the half way point. FYI for your scheduling. (Also, this ISN’T the Geraldine Woolkins book in the series with snow on the cover! That could be confusing, but the Christmas chapter is in the “autumn” book.)
Content Considerations: Being a woodland creature isn’t for the faint of heart. Definitely scary things happen, and a few friends are orphans. However, there’s nothing that I think would keep you from reading this to any age child.
The Promise and the Light by Katy Morgan
Pros: A fresh take on the Christmas story, this chapter book about the Nativity ties in the Old Testament prophesies with the new baby born in Bethlehem. That’s pretty cool. I think the main strength of this particular title is that it really captures what a BIG DEAL Jesus’ birth was to individual people, and to Israel as a nation.
Cons: The narrator does change! Like, it could be Mary in one chapter, then Zechariah in the next. That’s not a bad thing for every family, but if you have younger kids you might have to help them orient every chapter.
I get a little “ehh” about re-tellings of Bible stories because it’s THE BIBLE, but overall there’s nothing objectionable here. At least in my opinion. As with all re-imaginings, make sure your kids know it’s extra-Biblical. (Looking at you, Left Behind series from the 90s…)
Length: 25 chapters…almost like they did that on purpose for Advent. Hmm…
Content Considerations: Mary has a baby in her belly…Joseph is there, but not THERE, if you know what I mean…the text talks about how scandalous this is…it can raise some questions. I confidently recommend this Christmas chapter book for ages 8 and up, but if you’re prepared to answer some questions, you could definitely read it to younger kids.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Pros: It is HILARIOUS. However, layered in all of that laughter, there are beautiful truths about what the first Christmas was really like, and who Jesus came to save.
Cons: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever tells the story of an unchurched family joining the Christmas pageant. The narrator is a 9 year old girl. Content wise, this Christmas chapter book is appropriate for all ages. However, because the narrator is in school, I think the sweet spot is school age kids. Toddlers and preschoolers won’t really get it.
Length: There are only seven chapters in this short book. However, there are no pictures. If you have older kids, you could certainly get through this book in the week before Christmas. The audio book is less than 2 hours long, so you could even have it play during drives to Grandma’s house during Christmas week.
Content Considerations: This book has aged like a lot of media from the ’80s – it has some stuff that’s…fine…but not really politically correct. For example, the way the school handles bullying, and they talk about one character going to “fat camp” as a child. Overall I found it very realistic with how loving (but imperfect) families interact, so I still recommend it. Maybe just remind your kids that weight doesn’t determine their worth.
Light in the Darkness by Alex Webb-Peploe
Pros: Light in the Darkness is a full color graphic novel telling the story of Luke 1 and 2. It’s not a retelling of the Christmas story from the Bible, it IS the Christmas story from the Bible. If you have a tween reluctant reader/listener in your home, THIS is the book you want.
Cons: None. It’s exactly what I’m looking for to engage my tween. My only complaint might be that it’s a tad short.
Length: Short. Really short. It’s only 48 pages, and could easily be read in one sitting. Or you could break it up over a few days and let the kids spend time marinating on the pictures.
Content Considerations: The text is straight from Luke 1 and 2. So, there’s all the usual stuff about Mary being a virgin, Caesar being nasty, etc.
Related: Here’s more Christian books for tweens that AREN’T devotionals. (Mostly geared toward reluctant readers because that’s how we roll over here.)
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Pros: This is the story book Bible version I recommend for every family. The author took each story and used it as a vehicle for sharing about why Jesus was important and why he had to come. It’s the perfect Advent book because of clearly explaining the significance of this baby born to save us.
Cons: I mean, the only negative I can think of is, “There’s too much Jesus,” and is that really a negative?
Length: Even though the full book is much longer, if you start at the first story on December 1, and read one story every day, you’ll arrive at the story of Jesus’ birth on Christmas. Perfect! Each chapter is around 4 or 5 pages long, and there are stunning full color illustrations. It’s suitable for all ages.
Content Considerations: None. Even though it’s the Old Testament stories, this version is honestly written to focus solely on Jesus, so a lot of the “uhhh, how do I address this with my preschooler…” gets cut out.
Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide
Pros: Jotham’s Journey was written as an Advent Christmas chapter book. It’s exciting enough to keep even the adult’s attention. The story doesn’t really follow the main characters from the Biblical first Christmas, that’s just the backdrop of Jotham’s own adventure, although he does interact with many of the Bible characters.
Cons: Full disclosure, one of my kids is a sensitive listener, and this book was too exciting for us. There’s thieves, kidnappings, etc., and it just wasn’t a good fit for our family. Doesn’t make it bad, just a heads up if you also have a sensitive listener. The main character is 10 years old, but there’s A LOT of violence. (For some adventure loving kids, this could be a “pro,” lol.)
Length: 25 chapters, meant to be read over Advent. Each chapter is SHORT, like 2 or 3 pages, so this could be a very doable option if you feel tight on time. There’s also some questions or a verse to go along with each chapter if you want to extend the conversation.
Content Considerations: Like I said, it’s pretty violent. There’s also a lot of un-trustworthy adults.
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham
Pros: One Wintry Night tells the story of a boy lost in a storm who hears the Christmas story from a friendly neighbor. I love the sweetness of the story. I love the illustrations.
Cons: Honestly, the writing is somewhat uneven. The end feels rushed, and doesn’t live up to the excellence of the beginning of the book. Personal opinion, apologies to the author, who I’m sure this is their baby. I still recommend it, partly because at 7 chapters it is so doable by all families, but heads up it isn’t a literary masterpiece.
Length: I REALLY love the fact that it is only seven short chapters long. However, those seven chapters tell the whole story of Jesus’ birth, from Adam and Eve in the garden to Jesus’ offer of salvation. If you are looking for a book that will encompass the fullness of the Nativity, but doesn’t take as much of a time commitment as most Advent reading plans, this is the book for you! It is good for any age of child.
Content Considerations: Nothing special. The child is lost, but he gets found again.
The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean
Pros: What I like about this book is that it ties together so many different stories from the Bible into the story of Jesus birth. Also, if you have a Jesse tree that you put up every year, this book should correlate with the ornaments.
Cons: What I don’t love about this book is that the older gentleman telling the Bible stories is pretty cranky about having to share about Jesus. He’s pretty snippy about God’s story. I think that’s a little weird, but if you liked the idea and overall story of the book, it would be fairly easy to switch out the adjectives he uses when talking to the kids and make the gentleman more kindly. (Honestly, I found it bothersome enough that we aren’t using this book this year. HOWEVER, if you have an ornament set to go with a Jesse tree, this is one of the best options out there that correlates perfectly to that.)
Length: The Jesse Tree has 25 short chapters, and is a great chapter book for a family Advent reading plan. It is based on the tradition of carving a Jesse tree to tell the genealogy of Jesus.
Content Considerations: I mean, some of Jesus’ ancestors were…interesting. To put it mildly. However, overall this book is written at a content level that would be appropriate for all ages.
Bonus Picture Book for Christmas Eve
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones
After finishing up Sally Lloyd-Jones other wonderful book, The Jesus Storybook Bible, for your Advent reading, you can finish it up with her picture book Song of the Stars for Christmas evening. It is the the perfect Christmas picture book to get your family focused on the reason for the season – it’s definitely appropriate for all ages. The melodic prose describes the whole earth getting ready for the new baby king.
I love this book because it points to why Jesus’ coming was so amazing: redemption has come! Amen! The animals’ message rings true today: “The One who made us has come come to live with us!”
Use Books to Ring in the Season
It’s never too late to use a book to usher your family into the stable! Use a chapter book for your family Advent reading plan to celebrate Christmas with your family, no matter how many days you have to countdown!