Top 10 Christmas Picture Books for Upper Elementary
By Mary Montero
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Ahhh, who doesn’t love the holiday season?! Celebrating one of the most magical times of the year with my students is one of my favorite parts of teaching. Using Christmas picture books allows your students to capture the magic, wonder, and excitement of the holiday season. I’ve compiled my TOP TEN favorite Christmas picture books to use in the classroom (or in your homeschool room!).
I can’t wait to share with you my TOP TEN favorite Christmas picture books! As I compiled them, I realized FIVE of them have to do with Christmas trees. Who knew Christmas trees could have so much representation and symbolism? There are also so many stories surrounding the magic of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and Christmas trees in general! The other FIVE Christmas picture books are heartwarming stories that capture the true meaning of Christmas. Each one of these Christmas picture books is beautifully illustrated, including heartwarming characters and stories that have beautiful meanings. I hope you find and enjoy a couple of Christmas picture books from this list that resonate with you and your own holiday memories and traditions. So, now it is time to gather your students and read these books aloud as you spread joy by flipping through the pages of these beloved books.
My Top 10 Christmas Picture Books
Christmas Tree Books
This book is based on a true story of a tiny saw-whet owl who found shelter in the branches of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The book beautifully illustrates the owl’s adventure and the efforts to ensure its safe release back into the wild, capturing the spirit of hope, kindness, and the magic of the holiday season.
Reason I love this book: When teaching point of view, this book would be a great option! It is really fun for kids to see a completely different perspective when it comes to the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
This is a heartwarming story about an eighty-year journey of a spruce tree and the boy who initially chose it at a tree farm. As the tree grows from a sapling to a majestic evergreen, the boy also matures, eventually becoming a father and then a grandfather. At the end of its life, the tree is selected to be the centerpiece of a city’s holiday celebration. It travels from the countryside to the bustling city center, where people of all ages come together to celebrate a tree that represents unity and belonging for everyone – truly, everybody’s tree.
Reasons I love this book: I love this book because it conveys themes of unity, appreciation for nature, and the idea that the tree belongs to everyone. I love how the tree symbolizes the sense of belonging to a larger community.
This book tells the heartwarming story of a pair of cardinals, Red and Lulu, who live in a beautiful evergreen tree. However, their home is cut down and transported to New York City to be the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Red and Lulu are separated during the journey, but their love and determination lead them back together.
Reasons I love this book: The story beautifully captures themes of love, resilience, and the magic of the holiday season while offering a unique perspective on the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Also, the illustrations are BEAUTIFUL.
The story begins during the Great Depression when Henry’s family receives a Christmas tree from construction workers building Rockefeller Center. Inspired by this gift, Henry later becomes a carpenter and, as an act of kindness, donates a tree to Rockefeller Center every year.
Reasons I love this book: This book highlights themes of generosity, community, and the history of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, making it a heartwarming holiday tale.
When the unattractive, small fir tree is brought to the city, it finds no takers as everyone prefers the grand, towering trees. However, a homeless boy approaches the shopkeeper, requesting to take the tree. Eventually, the little tree ends up beside the river, housed in a cardboard box adorned with a few candles. There, it becomes the focal point of a truly enchanting Christmas Eve that will remain etched in its memory forever.
Reasons I love this book: It truly exemplifies the meaning of Christmas. The book shows how you don’t need the best and most magical things to be able to enjoy the company of others and how people find joy in even the smallest things.
Miss Mary is a beloved teacher known for her colorful knitwear and her ability to make learning enjoyable. On the last day before the Christmas break, she envisions the fun her students will have at recess, but they’re not having a good time because they lack mittens to play in the cold snow. Determined to surprise her students with mittens, Miss Mary faces a challenge when the store runs out of yarn with no more deliveries before Christmas. She finds a way to make things happen and her students show her gratitude in a special way.
Reasons I love this book: Teachers are always doing the most for their students and this book exemplifies that. It has themes of generosity and love and highlights that the most meaningful gifts come from the heart.
I love this book because it combines the joys of reading, gift-giving, and the holidays. This book is based on a real Icelandic tradition. People give books to their family and friends on Christmas Eve. The book emphasizes the importance of finding the best book and curling up by the fire to read it on Christmas Eve.
Reasons I love this book: As a book lover, gifting books to others is one of my favorite things! The gift of a good book is so special and this story exemplifies that.
The little red sleigh has dreams of being out in the snowy world and carrying Santa’s presents on Christmas Eve. Despite being told it’s too small, the little red sleigh doesn’t give up and embarks on an adventure to prove itself.
Throughout the story, the little red sleigh faces various challenges and obstacles as it tries to achieve its goal. It encounters helpful friends and learns valuable lessons about determination and the importance of believing in oneself.
Reasons I love this book: This book is filled with beautiful illustrations and carries a heartwarming message about the power of perseverance and the fulfillment of following one’s dreams.
This book tells the story of a young reindeer named Dasher who escapes from a traveling circus and dreams of going to the North Pole. With the help of a kind man named Santa Claus, Dasher discovers her true purpose and becomes the lead reindeer on Santa’s sleigh team, pulling it with grace and speed.
Reasons I love this book: The story highlights themes of courage, determination, and the power of following one’s dreams. It also has a wonderful sequel called, Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas.
This book follows a young girl as she experiences the magic of Christmas in her city. Through the sights and sounds of the season, acts of kindness, and a sense of community, the story conveys the true spirit of Christmas as one of joy, togetherness, and giving. It serves as a heartwarming reminder of the essence of the holiday season.
Reasons I love this book: This book is highly engaging and entertaining for students! The beautiful illustrations and the sounds in the story are so much fun to read when teaching onomatopoeia. Also, the “spirit” in the book is YOU which is a great way to describe the Christmas spirit!
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Christmas Picture Books to Use in Upper Elementary:
Embark on a delectable literary journey with these six enchanting books that bring the beloved gingerbread character to life in various whimsical adventures.
“The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the School” takes readers on a lively exploration through a school, while “Gingersnap Snatcher” unravels a mystery surrounding the disappearance of these delectable treats.
“How to Catch a Gingerbread Man” offers a playful guide for young readers eager to catch the elusive cookie, while “The Plan for the Gingerbread House” unfolds a delightful story of creativity and magic in constructing the perfect gingerbread abode.
“The Gingerbread Pirates” combines the festive charm of Christmas with a swashbuckling adventure, and “Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story” warms hearts with a tale of resilience and the true meaning of toughness during the holiday season.
Whether it’s the mischievous escapades, sweet mysteries, creative plans, festive adventures, or heartwarming lessons, these gingerbread tales are sure to sweeten your reading moments and ignite the holiday spirit in readers of all ages.
Step into the enchanting world of Christmas with these heartwarming tales with these lovely Christmas picture books that capture the magic of Santa Claus in delightful and imaginative ways.
“How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney?” invites readers to explore the whimsical logistics of Santa’s chimney descent, sparking curiosity and laughter.
“How Santa Got His Job” unveils the charming backstory of everyone’s favorite gift-giver, showcasing the delightful journey of how Santa discovered his unique occupation.
“When Santa Was a Baby” adds an adorable twist to the tale, offering a glimpse into Santa’s early years and the endearing adventures of his childhood.
“Santa’s Story” unfolds a narrative that encapsulates the timeless essence of Santa Claus, reminding us of the spirit of generosity and joy.
These Christmas picture books weave together the magic of the holiday season, creating a festive reading experience that is perfect for both children and those young at heart. Immerse yourself in these enchanting stories that celebrate the wonder of Santa and the joy of Christmas traditions.
These handpicked Christmas picture books for kids weave enchanting tales that add a sprinkle of magic to the holiday season. From the mischievous escapades of gingerbread characters to the whimsical origins of Santa Claus, each story imparts warmth and joy to young hearts. Whether unraveling the logistics of Santa’s chimney descent or sharing creative plans for a magical gingerbread house, these narratives create cherished moments and family traditions that linger long after the holiday season. May these Christmas picture books continue to inspire imagination and foster the spirit of generosity, making Christmas truly magical for kids of all ages.
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I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.