The 12 Books of Christmas…Plus 3

Hello everyone and merry Christmas!

Katie Merkel

I wanted to be clever and recommend twelve Christmas picture books, but there were so many good Christmas books for kids that it was impossible to narrow the list down to just twelve. So, since certain parts of Latin America have the Three Kings come on January 6th, and Christmas is the season of giving, Santa is bringing the twelve books of Christmas and the Three Kings are brining an additional three Christmas storybooks.

After each picture book description, I listed the numbers that correspond to the Christmas cards, decorations, Christmas tree ornaments, and sensory activities that best fit with that book.

I hope that you enjoy my recommended children’s books and Christmas crafts and sensory activities!

5 More Sleeps ‘Til Christmas by Jimmy Fallon is about a boy who is eagerly counting down the number of sleeps until Christmas. He wants to fall asleep so that Christmas morning will arrive sooner, but he is so excited that he does not think he can fall asleep. And each night, he does. (Cards 2, 3, 4, or 5 – tree; Decorations 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, or 11; Ornaments 1 – Santa, 3, 4, 7, or 8; Sensory 2, 3, or 4)

The Perfect Christmas Pageant by Joyce Meyer, illustrated by Mary Sullivan is about a hippo named Hayley who is in charge of the Christmas pageant. She wants it to be perfect, but things don’t go as planned. (Cards 1, 5 – angel, or 7; Decorations 1, 2, 5, or 6; Ornaments 1 – Nativity, 2, 11, 12, or 13; Sensory 1)

How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish is about a brother and sister who want to catch Santa and have some creative ways to do so. (Cards 2, 3, 4, or 5 – tree; Decorations 3, 4, 8, or 9; Ornaments 1 – Santa, 3, 4, 7, or 8; Sensory 2 or 3)

Aaron’s Secret Message by Marcus Pfister is a retelling of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay from the perspective of a boy named Aaron, who lives in Bethlehem and has been interested in the star that seems to be growing bigger and brighter every night. (Cards 7; Decorations 5 or 6; Ornaments 1 – Nativity, 11, 12, or 13; Sensory 1)

A Christmas Spider’s Miracle by Trinka Hakes Noble, illustrated by Stephen Costanza is about two mothers, one a peasant woman and one a spider, who want to provide for their children but have the odds stacked against them. When the woman brings in a small tree to try and give her children some Christmas cheer, the spider thanks her for saving her and her children from freezing by decorating the tree with her webs. (Cards 3 or 5 – tree; Decorations 3, 4, 10, or 11; Ornaments 3, 4, 9, or 10; Sensory 4)

Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman is about a boy named José, his family, and their neighbors. It’s Christmas Eve, and almost everyone has something to be upset about. But when the small size of their family’s oven forces José and his father to take their roast to the pizzeria to be cooked, the miraculous happens. The smell of the roast causes everyone to become joyful and to find something to be thankful for. (Cards 2, 3, or 5 – tree; Decorations 3, 4, 10, or 11; Ornaments 1, 3, or 4; Sensory 4)

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, illustrated by Liz Bonham is about a lamb named Joshua who is left behind when the shepherd takes the flock to a new pasture because Joshua is unable to keep up. The bad leg that disqualified him from going to a new pasture kept him in the stable where he witnessed the birth of the Savior. This story shows that God has a special place for those who feel left out. (Cards 7; Decorations 5 or 6; Ornaments 1 – Nativity; Sensory 1)

The Tale of Baboushka: A Traditional Christmas Story by Elena Pasquali, illustrated by Lucia Mongioj is about an old woman who lives alone and loves to clean and sew. One night, the Wise Men stay with Baboushka and tell her about the King of Love who was born and to whom they are taking gifts. They invite Baboushka to join them, but she says she will come later because first she has to get her house in order. When she is finally ready with her handmade gifts, the Wise Men’s footsteps have disappeared and she can’t find the King of Love’s star. So, she travels around the world looking for the King of Love and leaving gifts for children along the way. (Cards 5 or 7; Decorations 5, 6, 10, 11, or 12; Ornaments 1 – Nativity, 11, 12, or 13; Sensory 1 or 4)

Christmas in the Time of Billy Lee by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Barry Moser is about a girl named Ellie who makes three wishes one Christmas. She and her friend Billy Lee, who everyone says is imaginary, work to make the wishes come true. The result is the most magical and joyful Christmas Ellie has ever known. (Cards 1 or 5 – angel; Decorations 1, 2, 10, or 11; Ornaments 1 or 2; Sensory 4)

Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco is about a school custodian named Quintin and a bullied foster child named Welcome Comfort, who Quintin takes under his wing. At Christmas time, Quintin encourages Welcome to believe in Santa. Welcome, who hasn’t had the most joyful Christmases, tries to believe. That Christmas Eve, Santa finds him and takes him for the ride of his life. Welcome grows up believing his night with Santa was a wonderful dream, but as an adult he learns that his dream was more real than he could ever have imagined. (Cards 4; Decorations 8 or 9; Ornaments 1 – Santa, 7, or 8; Sensory 2 or 3)

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola is about a girl named Lucida whose mother is asked to weave a new blanket for the Figure of Baby Jesus. However, her mother becomes ill close to Christmas and is unable to finish the blanket. Lucida is heartbroken that she does not have a gift for the Baby Jesus and offers the only thing she can find: weeds. When she presents them to the Baby Jesus, a miracle occurs. (Cards 6 or 7; Decorations 5, 6, or 7; Ornaments 1 – Nativity or 6; Sensory 1)

Tree of Cranes by Allen Say is about a boy who experiences his first Christmas when his mother tells him about her childhood Christmases in California and shares the tradition of decorating a tree and exchanging gifts with him. (Cards 3; Decorations 3, 4, 10, or 11; Ornaments 1, 3, 4, or 5; Sensory 4)

A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World by M. E. Furman, illustrated by Susan Gal talks about the different types of tasty treats that children all over the world leave for Santa. You can eat your way around the world with Santa by making some of the recipes at the back of the book! (Cards 3, 4, or 5 – tree; Decorations 3, 4, 8, or 9; Ornaments 1 – Santa, 3, 4, 7, or 8; Sensory 2 or 3)

The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift: The Story of the Other Wise Man by Susan Summers, illustrated by Jackie Morris is about Artaban, the Wise Man who did not arrive at the rendezvous in time to travel with the other three. Artaban sells everything he has for three jewels to present to the newborn King of Kings. Artaban arrives in Bethlehem too late to see Jesus and spends the rest of his life searching for him and helping those in need along the way. In the end, Artaban loses everything of earthly value but finds his King. (Cards 7; Decorations 5, 6, or 12; Ornaments 1 – Nativity, 11, 12, or 13; Sensory 1)

Shooting at the Stars by John Hendrix is a retelling of the Christmas Truce of 1914 from the point of view of a British soldier named Charlie. Although Charlie is a fictional character, the events are real. Charlie’s letter to his mother is based off soldiers’ accounts of the Christmas of 1914 where for a short time there was peace on Earth in the middle of a war. (Cards 3 or 5 – tree; Decorations 3 or 4; Ornaments 3, 4, 11, 12, or 13; Sensory 4)

Cards

  1. Hand and Footprint Angels (Preschool – This can be turned into a card by gluing the angel to a piece of cardstock and writing a message on the back.)
  2. Fingerprint Christmas Lights Card (Preschool through Elementary)
  3. Pom Pom Christmas Tree Card (Preschool through Elementary)
  4. Santa Christmas Card (Preschool through Elementary)
  5. String Art Christmas Cards (Elementary – The instructions are for how to make a Christmas tree and angel.)
  6. Poinsettia Christmas Card (Elementary)
  7. Nativity Christmas Card (Preschool through Elementary)

Decorations

  1. A Is for Angel (Preschool)
  2. Cupcake Liner Angel (Elementary)
  3. Cupcake Liner Christmas Tree (Preschool through Elementary)
  4. Egg Carton Christmas Tree (Pre-K through Elementary depending on amount of adult prep)
  5. Suncatcher Nativity (Preschool through 2nd grade)
  6. Nativity Set from Toilet Paper Tubes (Elementary)
  7. Sponge Painted Poinsettias (Preschool through Elementary)
  8. Paper Plate Santa Claus (Preschool through Elementary)
  9. Santa Going Down a Chimney (Elementary)
  10. Snowflake Handprints (Preschool)
  11. Paper Snowflake (Elementary)
  12. Three Kings Silhouette Painting (Preschool through Elementary depending on amount of adult prep)

Ornaments

  1. Salt Dough Recipe for Ornaments (There are also instructions specifically for how to make a Nativity Handprint Ornament and a Santa Handprint Ornament) (Preschool through Elementary)
  2. Feather and Pipe Cleaner Angel (Pre-K through Elementary)
  3. Pom Pom and Pine Cone Christmas Ornaments (Preschool through Elementary – Turn these into Christmas trees by painting the pine cones green before gluing on the pom poms.)
  4. Cupcake Liner Christmas Tree (Elementary)
  5. Origami Crane (4th grade and up – This can be turned into an ornament by sewing a thread through part of it.)
  6. Poinsettia (Elementary)
  7. Santa Hat (Preschool)
  8. Santa Corks (Ornament & Santa Bowling) (Elementary)
  9. Christmas Spider (Pre-K through Elementary)
  10. Christmas Spider (4th grade and up)
  11. Foam Star (Preschool through Elementary)
  12. Felt Star (Elementary)
  13. Wooden Star (4th grade and up)

Sensory

  1. Away In A Manger Christmas Carol Sensory Bin (Preschool through Pre-K)
  2. Fluffy Santa Slime (Pre-K through Elementary – Instructions say this is not suitable for children under 4 years old)
  3. Free Christmas Playdough Mats (Preschool through 1st grade)
  4. DIY Fake Snow for Sensory Play (Preschool through Pre-K)

Happy reading and merry Christmas!

Katie

P.S.

For more themed book recommendations and activities, visit my post library.