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Explore the ten most popular Christmas books of all time for toddlers, kids, and adults to read and have the most festive holiday season.

the polar express by chris van allsburg with train ornament.

METHODOLOGY

I created this post in an effort to narrow down the dozens of great holiday reads you can choose from to only the most famous Christmas books you will want to squeeze in during this short holiday season.

As a book blogger who’s read so many of the best books to read at Christmas, I focused this list on the books that are both the best-selling Christmas books and the best Christmas books of all time.

Top 2 Picks

TOP PICKS

A Christmas Carol and Twas the Night Before Christmas are undeniably two of the most popular Christmas books of all-time for both kids and adults. They are read and re-read by generations of readers over time.

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. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  4. One Day in December by Josie Silver
  5. Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
  6. Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann
  7. The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg
  8. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
  9. Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
  10. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

The Most Popular Christmas Books

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A list of the most popular Christmas books would not be complete without A Christmas Carol, a holiday short story about 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.


The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi is one of the most famous Christmas books of all time. 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.


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.


One Day in December by Josie Silver

One Day in December was, and remains, a massive bestseller over several holiday seasons now. Reese describes it as a mix of Love Actually, Bridget Jones, and Serendipity, and I wholeheartedly agree.

This holiday romance book is about a British woman who sees her dream man outside of a bus she’s riding in, and later finds out he’s her best friend’s new boyfriend. The story follows their lives for the next ten years, and a lot happens in that time, although I won’t spoil any storylines.

Sometimes books involving love triangles can make the characters unlikeable, but everyone remained likable to me in One Day in December, and it was a really delightful December read.  I recommend this book if you love the movies mentioned above.


Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

If 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 Polar Express has been one of the most popular children’s Christmas books for decades now, beloved by so many who re-read it each holiday season, including me.

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 holiday-themed book by the massively popular author John Grisham, and it’s the 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.


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 (or, as Icelanders call it — Jolabokaflod), particularly by generations of families to feel the magic of Santa’s work while awaiting his arrival.


Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Street is a bestselling holiday book series that has remained steadily popular over the years, as it hails from bestselling “beach read” author Elin Hilderbrand. This particular Christmas novel begins a four-part story of family drama and holiday spirit mixed together.

Kelley Quinn owns the Nantucket Winter Street Inn and is the proud father of four grown children, all of whose personal lives are in a state of chaos. The oldest, Patrick, is a hedge fund manager dealing with a white-collar crime. Bartender Kevin has a secret relationship with the Inn’s housekeeper. Teacher Ava can’t get her dream boyfriend to commit. And Bart, the youngest, and the only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, is fighting overseas in the Marines.

Christmas approaches, and Kelley walks in on Mitzi kissing the Inn’s Santa Claus, bringing all of the families’ drama to a head. It becomes up to Kelley’s first wife, famous news anchor Margaret Quinn, to attempt to save Christmas.

The three remaining books in the Winter series are Winter Stroll, Winter Storms, and Winter Solstice. I recommend this book series if you like lighthearted family novels.

Related Posts: Best Elin Hilderbrand Books | Elin Hilderbrand Book Order


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular Christmas story of all time?


A Christmas Carol, published in 1843 by Charles Dickens, has become the most popular tale synonymous with the Christmas season. Its enduring story of redemption, the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, and the themes of compassion and human kindness during the holiday season resonate universally, making it a cherished classic each Christmas.

Conclusion

If you’re busy this holiday season but want to indulge in some festive reads, the most popular Christmas books are a great place to start.

Of these books, the transformative tale of A Christmas Carol and the whimsical lines of Twas the Night Before Christmas, with their rich traditions and heartwarming narratives, continue to sprinkle the magic of the season into our lives. They remind us of the warmth of family, the thrill of anticipation, and the spirit of giving that defines Christmas. So, let’s cherish these stories that have become as much a part of the holiday as stockings by the chimney and twinkling lights.

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