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Get the most famous classic Christmas books for adults, kids, toddlers, babies, and families to indulge in the best Christmas stories of all time this holiday season.

a christmas carol by charles dickens in front of a christmas tree.

I created this post in an effort to narrow down the dozens of bestselling classic holiday books you can choose from to read the most beautiful, vintage, and heartfelt Christmas literature.

As a book blogger who’s read so many good Christmas books for a book club, I focused this list on the books I believe offer the most to talk about with others during the holiday season, from books that are nostalgic to humorous, and even those you can compare to their famous film adaptations.

Top Picks


The titles A Christmas Carol, Nutcracker and Mouse King, and Twas the Night Before Christmas are the three most classic Christmas stories of all time. They have been read (and experienced in other formats), year after year, generation after generation, by holiday readers worldwide.

Quick List

First, if you’re extra curious or in a rush, below is a quick, shoppable list of all the books that made the list.

  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  2. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
  3. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
  4. The Elves and The Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm
  5. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  6. The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren
  7. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
  8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  9. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson
  10. Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
  11. Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann
  12. The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg
  13. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
  14. The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
  15. Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

Details on the Best Classic Christmas Books

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A list of the best-loved classic Christmas stories would not be complete without this Christmas short story. We all know the story of A Christmas Carol, and how the bitter old Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed by the spirit of Christmas after a visit from the ghost of his former business partner and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come, including Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim of course.

Indulge even further in the festive literature with these A Christmas Carol quotes that have become classics in their own right.

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

The short story A Christmas Memory is one of my all-time favorite Christmas books, written by classic author Truman Capote. It’s a short and beautiful tale about a young boy in rural Alabama, looking back with nostalgia about his elderly friend.

They save their pennies throughout the year to make 30 fruitcakes as soon as fruitcake weather arrives. They share them with only the most deserving persons, including the one they send to the White House each year, wondering if the President serves it thereafter.

Together, they share more holiday cheer as the old friend comes to find their time together to have a deeper meaning.

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

A Christmas Story is the book behind one of the most popular Christmas movies. It’s a nostalgic tale in which young Ralphie’s family represents the average American family having a disastrous, but memorable, Christmas season, in which, most notably, he yearns for a rifle gun.

The Elves and the Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm

The Elves and The Shoemaker is one of the best old Christmas books about a shoemaker who is secretly helped at night in his incomplete work by some little elves.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi is one of the most famous Christmas book classics. It’s about a young married couple trying to buy Christmas gifts for each other with little money to spend, and it’s ultimately, a sentimental tale that offers a lesson about gift-giving during the holiday season.

The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale by Philip Van Doren

The Greatest Gift is more famously known by the name of its film adaptation, It’s a Wonderful Life. First published in a small pamphlet and sent as the author’s 1943 Christmas card, it’s the story of a man contemplating suicide at Christmastime. When he gets the chance to see what the world would be like without him, and has a change of heart in time to celebrate the meaning of the season.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the bestselling mystery author Agatha Christie’s famed fictional investigator is tasked with a Christmas Eve murder at a family reunion in which everyone seems to have a reason to hate the deceased man.

(This timeline makes this one an especially good pick if you’re celebrating Jolabokaflod by reading on Christmas Eve.)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Undoubtedly, you have at least heard of the modern classic Christmas book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, about spreading Christmas cheer, even to the meanest curmudgeon of all. With the furry and cartoonish green Grinch at its core, it’s definitely one of the best Christmas books for families to read aloud together each year with toddlers and young children.

Related post: How to Make a Grinch Christmas Tree

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

The Little Match Girl, the old Christmas tale once referenced on Gilmore Girls, is the heartwarming story of Adriana and her grandmother, who travel with the hope of a better life. When Adriana’s dreams are shattered, she’s left with only a flute, a box of matches, and her faith in God.

Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

In addition to being one of the most classic Christmas movies of all Miracle on 34th Street is a bestselling, award-winning book that has sold millions of copies.

An elderly man named Kris Kringle fills in for Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade, becoming a popular regular at the store. But his claim that he is the real Santa leads to a court battle with the power of belief at the heart of it.

Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann

Did you know you can READ the beloved ballet based on Nutcracker and Mouse King?!

It’s the timeless, magical story of a wooden doll, the Nutcracker, who becomes alive to fight the evil seven-headed Mouse King after a Christmas party, which reminds people of all ages about the magic of the Christmas holiday every year both on the page and at the ballet.

The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg

The award-winning story book The Polar Express is one of my favorite holiday classic books, which I still re-read each holiday season.

Savor the stunning illustrations as you follow a boy who travels to the North Pole to learn the power of believing in the spirit of Christmas as he finds a special gift under the Christmas tree.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Skipping Christmas is the modern classic John Grisham book upon which the cute Christmas movie Christmas With the Kranks is based.

Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip everything Christmas one year. Come December 25, they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, skipping Christmas isn’t easy in their town or their family … and their plan comes to a head with some humor on the side.

Grisham truly delivered a well-written comedic holiday classic that celebrates the chaos and community that are so characteristic of the holidays.

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

The Tailor of Gloucester is the children’s story of a poor, tired tailor struggling to survive in his cold workshop over a hard Winter and working to complete for the Mayor of Gloucester’s wedding on Christmas Day.

Luckily, some very generous mice are there to help him, even in the presence of his cat, for a holiday celebration made possible by way of the spirit of the season. 

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

Filled with memorable Christmas book quotes, the #1 bestseller Twas the Night Before Christmas has been read as one of the best bedtime stories on Christmas Eve, particularly by generations of families to feel the magic of Santa’s work while awaiting his arrival.


These classic Christmas classic books are the most traditional holiday stories for adults, kids, and families to read this, and every, holiday season. They have been read (and experienced in other formats), year after year, generation after generation, by holiday readers worldwide.

To recap and help you decide which ones to read, the top 3 most popular picks are A Christmas Carol, Nutcracker and Mouse King, and Twas the Night Before Christmas.

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