Dear Santa: Please Bring Christmas Books

Amid all the excitement and buildup of the season, it's easy for kids to miss the true meaning of Christmas.

Here are some books that will help steer young hearts and minds toward Bethlehem — and may even instill a hunger to learn more about what comes next.


written by Crystal Bowman

illustrated by Claudine Gevry

Zondervan, 2005

18 pages, $6.99

Available in bookstores

“My tree tells a story of long, long ago / From the star on the top to the presents below.” Christmas is at time of glitter and glow, full of hearty pine trees, shiny ornaments, clear-ringing bells and wished-for presents. This book celebrates some of the symbols and customs of Christmas, and connects them to the story of Jesus’ birth. An oversized board book that opens in the shape of a Christmas tree, this book is as much fun to hold as it is to read. Ages 3 to 6.



written by Martin Waddell

illustrated by Jason Cockcroft

Margaret K. McElderry, 2004

32 pages, $15.95

Available in bookstores

On a cold winter's night, Kind Ox offers to share his stable with one cold stranger after another. In turn, Old Dog, Stray Cat and Small Mouse take up their residence. But it's Old Donkey who brings the most special guest of all. He escorts the Holy Family into the special stable, where the baby Jesus will be born. The simple storyline, warm tone and mesmerizing acrylic illustrations make this an excellent addition to any Christmas collection. Ages 3 to 8.


based on the traditional rhyme

illustrated by Lesley Harker

Scholastic, 2000

Available in bookstores

“Twinkle, Twinkle” as a Christmas carol? In this clever picture book, the traditional words of the nursery rhyme are paired with illustrations that depict the story of the first Christmas. Two modern-day children are intrigued by the stars. One night they set out to follow a special glimmering one and they are transported to ancient Bethlehem. When they arrive at the manger, they have a present for baby Jesus. Even very little readers will enjoy the captivating illustrations and the simple, well-loved tune. Ages 3 to 6.


Written by Debbie Trafton O'Neal

Illustrated by Fiona King

Augsburg Fortress, 2003

32 pages, $8.99

To order: (800) 328-4648

The Christmas sing-along continues with this beautiful edition of the popular folk tune. The intricate illustrations do more than just depict the story of the first Christmas. They also show evangelization in action. Each time the “Go tell it” refrain is repeated, the characters are shown calling out, sharing the good news and inviting others to witness the miracle of the Christmas season. The final pages offer great ideas for hands-on Christmas activities that the whole family can enjoy. Ages 3 to 8.


written by Margaret Wise Brown

illustrated by Diane Goode

HarperCollins Publishers, 2004

32 pages, $15.99

Available in bookstores

“In a big warm barn in an ancient field / The oxen lowed, the donkey squealed” begins this retelling of the birth of Christ. Parents and even some grandparents will remember this story, first released in 1952 by the author of Goodnight Moon. New full-color illustrations of the barn and its many visitors that one wintry night complement the simple rhyming verse. Ages 3 to 6.



written and illustrated by Robert Byrd

Dutton Children's Books, 2000

40 pages, $17.99

Available in bookstores

An unhappy donkey complains to St. Francis of Assisi. Why, he asks, do donkeys have to carry such heavy loads on their small backs? St. Francis tells him about the love, devotion and courage of the Christmas donkey. That donkey, selected by Joseph to carry Mary and her unborn child from Nazareth to Bethlehem, uses all his strength to bring his “burden” safely to the stable. His warm breath comforts the newborn Jesus. Ages 4 to 8.


written by Pearl S. Buck

illustrated by Mark Buehner

HarperCollins Publishers, 2002

40 pages, $16.99

Available in bookstores

The 15-year-old son of a farmer yearns to give his dad a special gift. Why not, the boy wonders, give that gift out in the barn — a barn much like the stable in which Jesus was born? Working alone in the wee hours of Christmas morning, the son milks all the cows. When his father discovers his “present,” he promises to remember it every Christmas morning for as long he lives. Now an old man, the son remembers fondly the gift of love he gave. Ages 8 and older.


written by Rhonda Gowler Greene

illustrated by Susan Gaber

Aladdin, 2002

32 pages, $6.99

Available in bookstores

“This is the baby in swaddling clothes, the small precious baby, the one whom God chose…” This tale provides a great introduction to each member of the Holy Family and the wonder of that first Christmas night. The warm, inviting pictures and repetitive cadence of the text are just right for young readers. Ages 3 to 8.


written by St. Jean de Brébeuf

illustrated by Frances Tyrell

Eerdmans, 2003

32 pages, $16.00

Available in bookstores

Originally written in the language of the Huron Indians, this hymn reveals the zeal of the French Jesuit missionary and martyr St. Jean de Brébeuf to make Christ known in a culture vastly different from his own. “The chiefs from far before Him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt,” for example, describes the visit of the Magi. Ages 6 and older.


written by Alice Faye Duncan

and Phyllis Dooley

illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Zondervan, 2005

Pages, $15.99

Available in bookstores

It's Christmas Eve and times are lean for the Beene family — nothing but the same old watery tomato soup for dinner. When the youngest Beene prays for “something more,” the prayer is answered in an unexpected way — one that changes their perspective on what it really means to celebrate Christmas. This book serves up hearty lessons on gratitude and the importance of helping those less fortunate. Ages 4 to 8.

Patricia A. Crawford writes from

Winter Park, Florida.

Kerry A. Crawford writes

from Pittsburgh.