These are my favorite Christmas books for kids, and I've collected activities and crafts to go along with each book. Think of this list as a survival guide for Christmas break: whenever a child is bored, pull out one of these magical children's Christmas books and have fun sharing the story and then doing one of the activities.
10 Magical Christmas Books for Kids, and Activities and Crafts to Go Along with Each One
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg, and Polar Express Crafts and Activities
I don't know if I'll ever read a more perfectly magical, beautiful Christmas story than The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. I've never been a fan of the movie--it seems stretched way too thin. But the book is absolute perfection. Gloriously illustrated, a pleasure to read aloud, and the story is utterly enchanting.
The Polar Express Crafts and Activities
- Polar Express jingle bell ornament tutorial, including a free printable Polar Express ticket to tie to the ornament.
- Make rich and delicious hot chocolate
- Make popsicle stick Christmas trains
- Printable Polar Express coloring pages
The Jolly Christmas Postman, and Jolly Postman Crafts and Activities
I love all the Jolly Postman books, but The Jolly Christmas Postman is my favorite. It's lushly illustrated, full of detail that you want to pour over, and interactive--with letters to open up and read and giggle over. This book is an absolute delight.
The Jolly Christmas Postman Inspired Crafts and Activities:
- Make a mailbox Christmas ornament
- Write a letter to santa
- Make Jolly Christmas Postman story stones
- Make a Jolly Postman inspired Christmas sensory bin
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Grinch Crafts and Activities
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss is an absolute classic, too.
Grinch Crafts to Make after Reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Easy Grinch Face Christmas ornament balls
- Grinch slime
- Paper plate Grinch craft
- Incredibly easy Grinch Christmas ornaments (even very little kids could do this one)
- A darling and easy Grinch hand print pop up Christmas card
- Printable Grinch coloring pages
Bear Stays Up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson, and Crafts to do After Reading
Bear Stays Up for Christmas is a charming, beautifully illustrated, fun-to-read-aloud book by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. Wilson actually pays attention to both meter and rhyme, so this book is actually a joy to read aloud.
Crafts to Make After Reading Bear Stays Up for Christmas
- Make teddy bear bread for a snack
- Paper plate bear craft
- pom pom bear craft
- Adorable, easy bear Christmas ornament
The Snowman, and Snowman Crafts and Activities
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs doesn't actually have any words (which makes it perfect to hand to a pre-reader to get a few minutes of distraction), but it is utterly captivating, just the same.
Snowman Crafts and Activities
- Make your own play dough snowman kit
- Make an easy snowman stuffy out of a sock
- Make easy popsicle stick snowman ornaments
- Easy (light up!) snowman ornaments made from battery operated tea lights
Paddington and the Christmas Surprise, and Paddington Bear Crafts and Activities
Who can resist an adventure with Paddington? Paddington and the Christmas Surprise is a delightful addition to any collection of Christmas picture books.
Paddington Bear Activities and Crafts
- This Paddington Bear toilet paper roll craft would make an adorable Christmas ornament
- Make healthy and adorable Paddington Bear toast
- bake some Paddington Bear cupcakes with free printable hat cupcake decorations
- Print out some free Paddington activity pages and coloring pages
The Night Before Christmas Pop-up Book, and Easy Pop Up Christmas Crafts
The Night Before Christmas is an absolute Christmas classic, and this is my favorite illustrated version. (I'm a sucker for pop ups!). The pop ups and illustrations in this version of the classic Christmas poem are clean and modern and captivating.
Pop Up Christmas Crafts to Try After Reading The Night Before Christmas:
- Easy DIY pop up Christmas tree card
- Another easy pop up Christmas tree Christmas card
- Here's a reindeer pop up card tutorial by the authors of this very book!
- This snowman pop up card tutorial uses a different pop up technique than the other tutorials listed. It would be easy to adapt to make the design a stack of presents, too.
Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett and Gingerbread Activities and Crafts
I love all of Jan Brett's books with their incredibly rich and detailed illustrations, and I love anything gingerbread, so you know Gingerbread Baby is one of my favorites! It's a funny, frolicking retelling of the gingerbread man fable, but with a very sweet ending that you'll absolutely love.
Gingerbread Activities to go along with Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby:
- Build a gingerbread house (my favorite recipe and free printable templates)
- Make gingerbread men Christmas ornaments (out of real gingerbread you can eat!)
- Make gingerbread salt dough ornaments that you can keep forever
- Make an easy pop up gingerbread man Christmas card
Father Christmas's Fake Beard, and Activities Inspired by the Book
Father Christmas's Fake Beard is a collection of fabulously funny Christmas stories from Terry Pratchett. While it is richly illustrated, it's not a picture book. But the illustrations and funny stories will absolutely delight slightly older children (and adults, too).
- Make mince pies (add pop rocks to make yours "explode")
- Make a "reindeer droppings" from the story "Father Christmas's Fake Beard"
How Winston Delivered Christmas (Including Crafts!)
How Winston Delivered Christmas: A Christmas Story in Twenty-Four-and-a-half-Chapters is a delightful book on its own, but this book also includes craft projects to go along with each chapter, right there in the book! It's charming way to count down the days in the Christmas season with a fun story and activities to do togeter. No craft suggestions needed from me for this one!
I hope you make as many happy memories with these books and crafts as my family did!