A Christmas Countdown: A List of Christmas and Winter Picture Books to Share With Your Students

by Kendra Martin


What is a better way to countdown to Christmas vacation as a teacher than with great picture books that focuses on the Christmas and winter season? You can find most of these books in your local public library system. Take the time to reserve several, wrap them with cheap wrapping paper or free brown packing paper, number them, set them up on your windowsill or other prominent location, and allow your students to open one a day.

Picture books focusing on Christmas traditions around the world

Because I live in a city that is 80% Hispanic, I am very intentional to cultivate as much Hispanic literature as possible so you will see this list heavily slanted toward Hispanic traditions.

Winter picture books focusing on the change in nature

There is nothing quite like a book with vibrant illustrations to point out to us what is happening in the outside world as we sit cozily indoors. Draw your students’ attention to nature with these quick reads.

Historical: picture books focusing on Christmases in the past

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres in adult literature, and I find I enjoy the same within a picture book. What better way to learn about World War II through a picture book about a little Jewish boy who had to escape to New York City right over Christmas time?

Picture books with a shortened version of a classic folk story

If you have time to read the full versions of these classic stories to your students, then please choose those. But to save time, these picture books with shortened versions are perfect to enjoy in a five-minute reading session in your day.

Picture books focusing on Christmas values and legends

The Christmas tree, Santa Claus, stringing of lights, poinsettias, the candy cane, hanging stockings, giving gifts—Christmas in North America is full of so many traditions and legends. And it is a challenge for parents, teachers, and students alike to actually stop and consider why we are doing what we are doing. Whether or not your students participate in these traditions, they will see it all around them over the next several weeks. I find that picture books are some of the best ways to open the conversations.

While these books may not be completely factual (I believe Saint Nicholas gave the nine coins when he was just a boy, long before he was actually bishop), they do help children to understand that the physical aspects of a North American Christmas come from historic traditions, legends, and beliefs.

Picture books focusing on Christ and the nativity

Most of our students grow up within Christian homes who make it a point to celebrate the real reason of Christmas—Jesus and His birth. They know the nativity story inside and out, but these picture books add a fictional twist to the story and may help them to think in a new way of the wonder of the coming of Christ.

Is there a favorite Christmas picture book that you like to enjoy each season? Please add it to the comment section so we can enjoy the book, too!

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CONTRIBUTOR: Kendra Martin

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