The holidays are the perfect time to curl up with the kids or gather all of your students on the rug and read a good book. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or just want a nice winter read, we’ve got something for you. Our holiday reading list includes classic tales, read-alouds, and even some more recent stories that may become your new holiday traditions.
From classics like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Polar Express” to more recent additions such as “The Elf on the Shelf” there are plenty of Christmas stories for kids to enjoy around the holidays. While these stories are listed by age, many of them will be enjoyed by the whole family.
The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry (Worksheet)
Pine trees, gingerbread men, and hot cocoa are all traditional Christmas smells kids can experience as they sniff their way through this scratch & sniff Christmas story.
A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe (Worksheet)
For years, the old pine tree has sat in the field, wishing to be a Christmas tree. Seeing him so sad gives the animals an idea to help him get his wish.
Merry Christmas, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff (Worksheet)
Mouse, from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, decorates his Christmas tree in this simple counting book for young children.
The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold (Worksheet)
The Elf on the Shelf has become a tradition for many families. Even if you’re not a fan of the elf, you can read this fun story with kids.
The Gingerbread Man by the Brothers Grimm (Read-Aloud)
“You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!” This classic tale about a popular Christmas cookie is a great read during the holidays. Read it to kids or let them enjoy this read-aloud version on their own.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (Worksheet)
A boy builds a snowman who ends up taking him on an adventure in this classic Christmas story.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Worksheet)
“All aboard!” The Polar Express takes young boys and girls to the North Pole. After reading the book, watch the movie version with kids and compare the difference.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (Worksheet)
It’s hard not to love this Christmas classic from Dr. Seuss about a Grinch whose heart grew two sizes that day.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (Read-Aloud)
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas has been retold many times. Listen to the original version of the story, called “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” in this read-aloud version.
The Elves and the Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm (Read-Aloud)
A poor shoemaker wakes up one morning to find his day’s work has already been done in this classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. The read-aloud version is fun to listen to with kids.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (Worksheet)
“One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all.” Those lines begin the classic story about a young couple in love and the sacrifices they make for Christmas.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Chances are you know a few Scrooges of your own. Read about the original Scrooge in this classic Christmas story. You can also find worksheets covering each stave of A Christmas Carol on Help Teaching’s literature page.
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or simply want to teach children more about these Jewish holidays, these books will introduce kids to the history and principles of The Festival of Lights.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket (Worksheet)
Lemony Snicket’s The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming is a hilarious story about a latke. As kids read the story, they’ll also learn about the importance of Hanukkah.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen (Worksheet)
The How Do Dinosaurs Say series is popular with kids and How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah is no exception. This simple story teaches kids about some of the traditions of Hanukkah.
Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin (Worksheet)
A lack of money and food won’t stop a family from having a wonderful Hanukkah in this touching story about the holiday.
The Purse of Gold (Read-Aloud)
This Jewish folktale isn’t necessarily a Hanukkah story, but the moral of the story is a good one to teach kids around the holiday. A beggar finds a purse of gold, but kids have to listen to the read-aloud to discover what happens next.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel (Worksheet)
Every year the goblins come out and try to ruin Hanukkah for the village. This year, however, Hershel shows up to send them packing.
Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert (Worksheet)
Experience the sights, sounds, and events of Hanukkah through a series of haiku. Once kids have read the haiku in the book, encourage them to write their own to share their experiences and thoughts about Hanukkah.
Hanukkah Mad Libs by Roger Price and Leonard Stern (Worksheet)
A Mad Libs book may not seem like a great choice, but these Mad Libs take Hanukkah events and allow kids to add their own words to create truly hilarious stories. While this book is more about creating than reading it’s a great way to get often disinterested pre-teens and teens involved in the holiday.
There aren’t as many stories written about Kwanzaa as their are for other winter holidays, but we’ve found a few to help kids learn about the holiday. All of the books promote the holiday’s theme of celebrating black heritage and living life in a positive way.
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington (Worksheet)
Inspired by Brer Rabbit stories, Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa tells the story of a rabbit who wants to make his Kwanzaa better. Throughout the story, he learns some important lessons about the holiday.
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis (Worksheet)
This story tells the tale of seven brothers who are always fighting. When their father dies, he leaves them with a seemingly impossible task. As they complete the task, the brothers learn the importance of working together.
Seven Days of Kwanzaa by Angela Shelf Medearis
In this informational book, kids will learn about the key principles of Kwanzaa. They’ll also crafts, recipes, and other activities related to the holiday.
In addition to these stories, Help Teaching’s Kwanzaa Reading Passage gives kids a brief overview of the holiday and the seven principles it celebrates and our Lessons page features a read-aloud story to represent each principle of Kwanzaa, including: Anansi Writes a Song (Kuumba), Anansi and His Sons (Umoja), The Collared Crow (Imani), The Feast (Ujamaa), The Great Drum (Ujima), The Three Tests (Kujichagulia), and The Name of the Tree (Nia).
We know there are many other great holiday books for kids. What are some of your favorites?