If you have young children in your family or church, Christmas picture books are a fun way to engage them with the great news of Jesus’ birth. You could read aloud a couple of Christmas books during your usual reading time, use a picture book as part of your advent reading and activities, or read one as the Bible story in Kids Church. A great picture book helps to bring the Christmas story alive and is a springboard for talking about why Jesus came into the world.
While Christmas books for kids are plentiful at this time of year, not many focus on the biblical narrative of Jesus coming into the world. Here is a list of ten great picture books that keep Jesus at the centre of Christmas.
1. The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell and Catalina Echeverri
The Christmas Promise tells the story of Jesus’ birth within the broader context of God’s promise to send ‘a new King, a rescuing King, a forever King’. It’s a great way to talk about why Jesus came into the world as the reader discovers how God kept his promise. The illustrations are fabulous for young kids, and the story is an engaging retelling of the biblical accounts.
2. Sshh…Don’t Wake the Baby by Helen Buckley and Jenny Brake
This fabulous little book helps kids to grasp the wonder that Jesus, the Son of God, became a baby for us at Christmas. By drawing on the experience of having a baby in the house (‘sshh..don’t wake the baby’), the story explains that Jesus was once a baby too who cried and needed to sleep. But unlike other babies, Jesus gave up his place with God and made himself nothing so we can be in God’s family. A great book for talking about the wonder of God with us.
3. The Star Maker by Helen Buckley and Jenny Brake
This beautifully illustrated book highlights that Jesus the star maker (and creator of everything) became a man to rescue his people. A giant star shone in the sky to show where the star maker was born. It’s a wonderfully clear and engaging explanation of the gospel – this is one I won’t be limiting just to Christmas time!
4. The Three Wise Camels by Andrew McDonough
From the Lost Sheep series, this book is a fun, imaginative retelling of the wise men visiting Jesus. Told from the perspective of the camels, the story tells how the camels travelled a long way in search of the King and rejoiced when they found him. The book is a good way to discuss what made the camels wise, and why they rejoiced when they found Jesus.
5. Bethlehem Town by Andrew McDonough
If your kids love rhyming books they will enjoy this creative retelling of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. In this retelling Jesus is born in a home surrounded by animals, people and guests who arrive to see the baby: ‘Bless my socks? Dance and sing! This little bub is God’s high king!’
6. Just Nicholas by Annie Kratzsch and Tessa Janes
Just Nicholas is a fantastic way to talk to children about Santa. The book aims to be a voice of truth in the midst of a Santa-saturated experience of Christmas. The book dramatises what we know from history about Saint Nicholas, a wealthy Christian leader who generously gave to others, and explains how legends about Nicholas later developed into Santa. Above all, the book highlights the overflowing, undeserved love and generosity of God. The word length is quite long, and would be best suited for kids over four.
7. Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Alison Jay
From the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, this book is a beautifully written and superbly illustrated story about the joy and excitement in all of creation when Jesus was born. The anticipation of the story builds up as animals, plants, rivers, skies and stars cry out ‘It’s time’, and culminates in the birth of Jesus, Heaven’s son, sleeping under the stars he has made. It’s a great way to talk about the significance of Jesus coming into the world.
8. The Nativity by Julie Vivas
This book pairs beautiful illustrations (complete with a boot-wearing angel!) with text from the King James Christmas narrative. The language can take some getting used to, but this is a good book if you are looking for a direct telling of the biblical narrative with engaging pictures.
9. Wombat Divine by Mem Fox and Kerry Argent
Mem Fox weaves her storytelling magic in this lovely story about poor Wombat who is struggling to find his place in the Nativity play. After a few disastrous attempts, Wombat lands the starring role as the baby Jesus and falls asleep just as a real baby would. The book is a great way to talk about the characters of the birth of Jesus narratives and why the role of baby Jesus is so important. It’s helpful too if your young ones have an upcoming role in a Nativity play!
10. Christmas by Dick Bruna
From the author of the Miffy books, Christmas is a clear retelling of the birth of Jesus in easy to understand language. It’s a good book if you are looking for a fairly straightforward retelling of the Christmas narrative that includes the visits of the shepherds and wise men. Its simple illustrations are appealing for young children.