New and Old Christmas Books For Catholic Children, Ages 3 To 12
If you are looking for quality Christmas books for your children, ages three to twelve, take a look at this list. Some wonderful new books supporting our Catholic faith have been published in 2020. I have also included a few older publications which are sure to stand the test of time.
All of Christendom throughout the world and the ages has told colorful stories about a part played by seemingly insignificant people or animals in the events surrounding the birth of Christ, Our Savior. I love to collect as many of these legends as possible and cannot think of a better way to deepen our children’s understanding of the spirit of Christmas.
Sophia Institute Press has published such legends in a couple of new picture books this year.
Raymond Arroyo's The Spider Who Saved Christmas, lavishly illustrated by Rand Gallegos, tells how a lowly spider saved the Holy Family from Herod’s soldiers, explaining the origin of tinsel decorations in the process. Recommended for grades 1 to 2, ages 8-12.
The Grumpy Old Ox, by Anthony DeStefano, is a rhyming story about a lame old ox whose physical and spiritual blindness is healed when the Christ Child is born in his stable and the ox finds charity in his heart. The humorous tone of the rollicking verse is reflected in Richard Cowdrey’s illustrations. This is a very Catholic story with Eucharistic allusions. Ages 8-12, grade 1-2.
If your kids love Disney, you can now give them something better. Wisdom Finds a Way is the second book in the Virtue Hero series by Cathy Gilmore which plugs into the popular super hero theme to teach virtues to young readers. Virtue hero Amel, a young camel, accompanies his Magus Balthazar on the journey to find the Christ Child, discovering not only the stable in Bethlehem but also the value of the virtue of wisdom. The happy, charming illustrations by Jean Schoonover-Egolf will appeal to any child who loves Disney while conveying a solid Catholic message. If you need stocking stuffers, there is lots of Virtue Hero gear available. Read my detailed review.
The Winter Elf by Grace Anne is a little masterpiece of a story inspired by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Clara Rose, a little girl frightened and lonely because of by her mother’s illness just before Christmas, is comforted by a very Narnia-like visit to the home of a charming winter elf who explains the value of suffering to her. Sam, the cardinal bird and Randall, the rabbit, share the elf’s home. A cuddly Randall toy and a bright-red Sam tree ornament are available for purchase. Ages 8-12. Read my detailed review.
The following are some wonderful older publications on their way to become classics:
Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey, pictured in the yellow title image above, is a lesser-known legend about Saint Francis, beautifully written and illustrated by Robert Byrd. When the donkey complains about his hard work and about being ridiculed for his bray, St. Francis tells him how his bray came about and reminds him that it was one of his kind who carried the Blessed Virgin to Bethlehem. Ages 5-9.
The following two books are from Susan Peek’s series for children K-3rd grade: God’s Forgotten Friends For Children.
I was so thrilled and amazed when I found Saint Rudolph and The Reindeer by Susan Peek, beautifully illustrated by Anne Peek. Here’s another legend for your kids, a beautiful brand new one about the saintly Bishop Rudolph who encounters a lost little reindeer without a name. I love how the author turns the tables on the secularization of Christmas. She sanctifies the secular character of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer who is so well-loved by our kids – a brilliant idea.
The Forgotten Christmas Saint: Saint Anastasia is another wonderful book about an obscure saint by Susan Peek, illustrated by Martina Parnelli. St. Anastasia of Syrmium is connected to Christmas by her feast day, December 25, and the fact that her mother had her secretly baptized in a cave under the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. The cave of Our Lord’s birth became a place of spiritual comfort in Anastasia’s life. She was later martyred for her faith. St. Anastasia is the patron saint of martyrs and of poison victims. The author based her story on hagiographical accounts of the Saint’s life.
British folktale illustrator Bernadette Watts has created a gorgeous, colorful edition of Leo Tolstoy’s classic short story Shoemaker Martin. Expecting a visit from Our Lord, Martin learns that how we serve Christ by serving our neighbors. It is wonderful to find this literary and spiritual masterpiece in such a beautifully illustrated form. Preschool to grade 3.
Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien is a very different kind of book. Tolkien wrote these letters, in which Father Christmas talks about his work, for his own children. Tolkien’s great imagination adds a clumsy helper, the North Polar Bear, and has Father Christmas comment about how political issues are affecting his work. The book comes with Tolkien’s own illustrations and photographs of the original letters. Age three and up.
Christmas in the Trenches by folksinger John McCutcheon, with beautiful sepia illustrations by Henri Sorenson, recounts a historical event demonstrating the extraordinary power of the Prince of Peace whose birth reached into the brutality of the World War I trench wars and caused a brief day of respite for the weary soldiers. The German and British troops sang Stille Nacht (Silent Night) together, played a game of soccer and shared a meal before going back to war. The lyrics of the author’s song about his event are included, as is a CD of Silent Night. Grades 2-4.
You can find more Christmas titles in my older posts: