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The Nativity Story in Children's Books

The Best Christmas Books for Kids About Jesus' Birth

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There are some excellent children's books about the Nativity story, particularly Christmas picture books.  If you are looking for the best kids' books about the birth of Jesus, here are a number of Christmas picture books and one special pop-up book about the Nativity that the whole family will enjoy.  In some cases, the story of the first Christmas is told directly from the Bible, generally the King James version; in other cases, the story is about how children and their families celebrate.

1. Christmas Is Here

Cover art of Christmas Is Here children's Christmas picture book
Simon & Schuster

The words of Christmas Is Here come from the King James Bible. Lauren Castillo is the illustrator of this Christmas picture book for ages 4-8. The story begins and ends with scenes of a modern family with two small children enjoying a live Nativity scene. In between, the location shifts to Bethlehem and the story of the angel appearing to the shepherds and the shepherds following the star to the baby Jesus in the manger. Castillo has done a nice job of illustrating what a live Nativity scene symbolizes. (Simon and Schuster, 2010. ISBN: 9781442408227) Read my review of Christmas Is Here.

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2. The Christmas Story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke

Cover art of The Christmas Story for kids about the birth of Jesus
Abrams Books for Young Readers

In The Christmas Story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the Bible story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus is accompanied by exquisite artwork from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The text, from the King James Version of the Bible, includes selections from Isaiah and from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each double-page spread features full-page art on one page and an excerpt from the Bible, along with a detail from the featured painting, on the facing page. (Abrams Books for Young Readers, An Imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2009. ISBN: 9780810980020) Read my review of The Christmas Story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

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3. A Christmas Goodnight

Picture book cover art for A Christmas Goodnight
HarperCollins
A Christmas Goodnight is a bedtime story about a little boy at bedtime, a snowy winter evening, a Nativity set and the first Christmas. Children ages 3-5 will enjoy this quiet story by Nola Buck, with its tender artwork by Sarah Jane Wright, particularly those children who have Nativity sets of their own that they can play with. (Katherine Tegen Books, An Imprint of HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN: 9780061664922) Read my review of A Christmas Goodnight.
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4. The First Noel

The First Noel - opened with 3D scenes
Candlewick Press

Jan Pietnkowski reaches new heights in artistry and paper engineering with his exquisite book The First Noel, which will be treasured by children and adults alike. The cover, with its silhouettes of the holy family, gives only the slightest clue as to the treasures inside this Christmas carousel pop-up book. This unique Christmas pop-up book would make a terrific gift for the entire family. (Candlewick Press, 2004. ISBN: 0763621900) Read my review of The First Noel.

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5. The Story of Christmas: Storybook Set & Advent Calendar

Cover art of The Story of Christmas: Story Book Set & Advent Calendar
Workman Publishing

The Story of Christmas: Storybook Set & Advent Calendar is an unusual Advent calendar. For each day of Advent, it includes a miniature illustrated board book. Each board book contains a retelling of a portion of the story of the Nativity, ending on Christmas Eve with the story of the birth of Jesus. Each miniature book provides a small piece of the Christmas story through the retellings by Mary Packard. Even small children who may not be able to thoroughly comprehend the stories will enjoy the artwork by Carolyn Croll and the novelty of miniature books. I recommend it for all ages. (Workman Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9780761152507)  Read my review of The Story of Christmas.

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6. Christmas in the Barn

Cover art of children's picture book Christmas in the Barn about the birth of Jesus
HarperCollins

The simple rhythmic text by Margaret Wise Brown is coupled with the gentle watercolors of Caldecott Honor artist Diane Goode in Christmas in the Barn. While the heart of the story remains true to the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, details that might confuse a young child have been left out of both the text and the illustrations.  This is a calm and soothing story, a good book to share at bedtime with ages 3-6. (HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN: 9780060526368) Read my review of Christmas in the Barn.

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7. The Nativity: From the Gospels of Matthew and Luke

Cover art of The Nativity Christmas picture book
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

The Nativity: From the Gospels of Matthew and Luke is an illustrated picture book that combines the words of the Bible from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke with the beautiful oil paintings of Ruth Sanderson. Her publisher notes that "Ruth finds inspiration for her art in icons, Renaissance paintings, illuminated manuscripts, old engravings and woodcuts," and this book is a reflection of that.

Each double page spread contains one page of text with a different motif in the border of the panel of text facing a detailed painting with an intricate border. Reading this book with your family is a lovely way to share the Bible story of the birth of Jesus with all ages. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2010. ISBN: 9780802853714)

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8. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve

Cover art of There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve book about the birth of Jesus
Hyperion Books for Children

Dennis Nolan’s gentle, soft focus watercolors complement the lyrical text by Pam Muñoz Ryan. It’s often hard for the young children who are used to cold weather and snow during the winter to understand how very different it was on the first Christmas. By starting with scenes of three children in the snow and contrasting that modern scene with text, then artwork and text, about the birth of Jesus, the reader is transported to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. (Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. ISBN: 0786854928)

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