Holiday picture books are the best! I love a good classic Christmas picture book, but there are also a ton of amazing NEW Christmas themed titles coming out RIGHT NOW!! I’ll be updating this list as I check out more newly published titles, so do come back through out the season. And let me know if you see a newly published Christmas picture book I should check out!
I separated this list into general market or secular picture books first, then faith market books in the next section.
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General Market NEW non-religious Christmas Picture Books for the Holidays in 2023
A Creature Was Stirring by Heather S. Pierczynski
A Creature Was Stirring is so read-aloudable. It’s the absolute darling story of a mouse who is super active on Christmas Eve. He runs into Santa before finally falling to sleep. I highly recommend for all ages, sweet spot being around preschool. If you’re going to only buy one new Christmas picture book from this list for this year, this would be the one I’d most recommend, because it has the most fun sounds and words for reading aloud. It’s sure to be a hit this holiday season!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh by Mo Willems
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh is about a sly pigeon attempting to drive a sleigh. It’s funny, and has the fun illustrations that the series is known for. Heads up that it’s basically a copy/paste of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, but with the word “sleigh.” So if it’s going to bother you that no new literary ground is covered, maybe grab a different title. But if your kids like the other Pigeon books, this one is another super fun brand new Christmas book. What I like about it is that it appeals to a wide age range of kids, which is good for our family. I recommend!
Otto the Ornament by Troy Cummings
In Otto the Ornament, Otto doesn’t start off the hero. He is not that nice, and has to go through some scrapes because he thinks he’s too good for a normal spot on the tree. But he learns some lessons and ends up a much nicer ornament. Heads up that Otto does one time say, “heck.” It’s a super cute story about how what’s on the outside doesn’t matter, and we’re all worthy of a spot on the tree. It’s quite a few words, and I recommend for preschool on up. Maybe a smidge younger if they’re really into it, but don’t be surprised if it’s too many words for the toddler set.
How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett
This is a cute story about how Santa might go down a chimney…like you might have guessed from the title! It posits lots of cute “maybes” about how Santa gets in, including some thoughts about houses without chimneys. It’s cute, I like it. Obviously, it’s very Santa-is-real, so if that’s not your jam, you might not like this title. It’s not rhyming, and not a ton of text, so I recommend for all ages, including the littles. Heads up that there is one illustration with a bit of Santa butt-crack. (First time I’ve ever said that in a book review…)
Looking for more of the same? This is my list of FABULOUS Christmas picture books with NO Jesus or faith element at all.
Red & Green by Lois Ehlert
There’s not much text in this short book about Christmas. The focus is on the stark illustrations, and interestingly shaped pages. I like it a lot, it’s visually interesting. I recommend for younger kids, as there’s not much of a story.
Bonus brand new Christmas chapter book for kids coming out in 2023
Juniper’s Christmas by Eoin Colfer
Full disclosure, I HAVE NOT READ THIS YET!! Partly because it’s not close to Christmas and I want to read it with my kids, but mostly because it doesn’t come out until October 31. But I’m including it now because I plan to read it aloud with the kids this season, and I think it should at least be on your radar, especially since it’s a good new read aloud option for the holidays. Juniper’s Christmas is a chapter book by the author who wrote Artemis Fowl. It’s aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, and the main character is an 11 year old girl who gets exposed to some North Pole magic. (Lots of Santa in this title!) From previews I have seen, it sounds like there is some mild romance in it, so I’m probably going to only end up reading it to my two oldest kids, who are in elementary and middle school. I’ll come back and update this review after I do!
Looking for more like this? Here’s some reviews of a dozen Christmas read-aloud chapter books for a wide age range of kids. (They’re all faith market!! So, Jesus, manger, church, whole shebang.)
Faith Market NEW Christian Christmas Picture Books for the Holidays in 2023
God’s Rescuer by Lois Ferguson
I love this new Christmas board book and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s all about how baby Jesus is the rescuer that God sent for his people. It’s fabulous, and should definitely be in your holiday book basket. Heads up that my preschooler thought that when I was saying “God’s rescuer,” I was saying, “someone who is rescuing God.” So just make sure to clarify for your kids that it is a rescuer being sent by all-mighty God, not God who is being rescued. It’s a board book, so trends young, but I also think that because of the lofty concept you could use with older kids, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the concept of Jesus coming as Savior. (It’s also super cheap! Less than $5!)
Holy Night and Little Star by Mitali Perkins
This is a follow up to Perkins really beautiful Easter picture book. I liked that one a lot, but I think I like this Christmas title even better. In the story Little Star is nervous about serving God, but she gets some jobs that help usher the new baby Jesus to earth. She does lead the wisemen, but not to the manger, it’s later. Heads up that Perkins does write in a very artistic way, so God has physical features like eyes, and planets and stars talk to Him. If you’re looking for a lyrical holiday book that gently reminds kids that Jesus is fully God, this is the one that should be in your book basket!
The Christmas List of Richard Lindsay by Bruce Lindsay
The Christmas List of Richard Lindsay gives off hard core The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey vibes. Even down to the realistic paintings as illustrations. If you liked that classic book, you’ll like this one. It’s about a boy in the 1930s who uses his last money to buy Christmas gifts for family and friends, with the overall message of being thankful for friends at Christmas. It’s not overtly about the Nativity, but there are mentions of a baby being the reason for Christmas, and one Bible verse at the end. The one thing I didn’t like about it is that the mom declines a free turkey because they, “aren’t poor,” and, honestly, she was a widow in the Depression. She should have taken the turkey to feed her kids. It was a weird almost-dig on people who accept charity in an otherwise uplifting story.
Lullaby for the King by Nikki Grimes
Lullaby for the King tells a fictional story of animals coming together, bringing gifts for the baby Jesus. The pictures are gorgeously colored, and I like that the animals are all supposed to be from Palestine. Of course, this is not part of the story in the Bible, but if you’re open to a little interpretation, it’s a lovely option for your holiday book basket this year!
The Night Before Christmas by Oliver Lancaster
This is a Biblical retelling of the classic story of The Night Before Christmas. Some parts of it I really liked, like the use of text to emphasize sound words, and the focus on the true meaning of Jesus coming as our Savior. Some parts of it weren’t my favorite, like the occasional clunky rhyme, or anachronism, like the shepherds wearing flip-flops. It is Biblically sound, with a sweet spot for interested ages around 5 to 7 years old.
Looking for more like this? Here’s an EXTENSIVE list and reviews of Christmas picture books about Jesus.