Under the Catholic Child’s Christmas Tree: A Book-Giving Guide

Child Xmas Book GuideDuring Advent, the Christmas books are slipped off of the shelves for bedtime reading. Our hodgepodge collection includes Christian and secular Christmas stories, old and new. Some are cheap Scholastic books about characters who are little more than a cog in the marketing machine. (Those, I try to avoid.) Others are classics we relish every year.

We also give each child a book as part of their Christmas gift. As the kids grow older, the books grow longer, and I’m more frequently looking for selections from my fellow authors at Catholic Teen Books.

Here are some ideas that I hope will find a spot under the Christmas tree of a child you love.


Little Lamb Finds ChristmasLittle Lamb Finds Christmas by Cathy Gilmore

The Nativity written from a lowly animal’s perspective is not unique (see The Christmas Mouse below.) But instead of the cutesy rendering normally found in such a book, Little Lamb Finds Christmas has more than a touch of realism: an accurate description of a manger, stinky animals, and illustrations picturing the Holy Family not as Caucasians, but closer in features and skin tone to how they likely appeared. A refreshing take on the Christmas story. (Picture book.)

7 Riddles to Nowhere

Seven Riddles to Nowhere by A.J. Cattapan

This is the kind of book I imagine a kid unwrapping  Christmas morning and then devouring over the course of a lazy Christmas Day by the light of the Christmas tree. With a series of riddles to solve, kids will find this difficult to put down. (Middle grade chapter book.)

The Other Side of ChristmasThe Other Side of Christmas by Beth Gully

Hands down this is the most unique Christmas book I’ve read! The Other Side of Christmas is an ambigram book. Read the contemporary story of Christmas, then FLIP IT UPSIDE DOWN and read the biblical message of the holiday. Kids and adults alike will marvel at the author’s creativity on each and every page. (Picture book fun for all ages.)

Roland West, LonerRoland West, Loner by Theresa Linden

A terrific introduction to Theresa Linden’s books for Catholic teens! No reader can resist shy but earnest Roland, bullied by his brothers and alienated from his peers. Readers will relish his story as  he forges friendships both in his new school and beyond. (For middle schoolers and teens.)

Saint AnastasiaThe Forgotten Christmas Saint: Saint Anastasia by Susan Peek

Long-overlooked patroness of martyrs Saint Anastasia gets center stage in the story of her life and death, including her friendship with Saint Theodota. Her story, delivered in a conversational tone, presents both her suffering and miraculous survival. (Illustrated story for early elementary-aged children and littler ones with good attention spans.)

Rosa, Sola by Carmela Martino

Rosa, Sola by Carmela Martino

A tender story of hope, loss, and family life. The mid-20th century setting in a large Italian-American Chicago family grounds the story in the reality that life is filled with heartbreak but also enduring love. Poignant and memorable.  (For middle grade readers and middle schoolers.)Finding Patience

Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity: Finding Patience by Virginia Lieto

An attractive story that will help children understand the virtue of patience – not just the short-term “wait until I’m done” patience, but the long-term, “God hears and answers our prayers in His time, not ours” patience. Includes a delightful twist that will leave you smiling (Picture book.)

Little StarLittle Star by Anthony DeStefano

We’ve had anthropomorphic animals at the Nativity, now a star! The story, with warm, Christmasy illustrations, depicts the Christ child’s humble birth from the perspective of the Star of the East (which may also sit atop your Christmas tree). Even more interesting, the star goes supernova! (Picture book.)

The Christmas MouseThe Christmas Mouse by Stephanie Jeffs 

A mouse goes on an adventure via a boot and a book, finding himself transported to the night of Christ’s birth. He becomes a witness to the Nativity, glorying in the Messiah’s birth. (Picture book with a  lot of text. May not hold the youngest children’s attention.)

Joy to the World

Joy to the World: Christmas Stories and Songs by Tomie dePaola

This treasury makes a lovely gift! It includes several Christmas carols as well as three of Tomie de Paola’s Christmas books: The Night of Las Posadas, The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and The Legend of the Poinsettia (my personal favorite). If you’ve never read Tomie de Paola’s books, now is the time to start! (Picture books.)

Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper

Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper by Jean Schoonover-Egolf

Lovely illustrations accompany the sweet, sometimes humorous story of Molly McBride as she overcomes her kindergarten apprehension – from meeting new friends to donning that plaid jumper. Chock full of simple lessons, this is a great read aloud. Teaches children the role of uniforms and the importance of what we wear, the nature of priesthood, and the overriding lesson of God’s unconditional love for us. (Picture book.)

(Yes, I know that’s ELEVEN, but I accidentally included eleven in my other Christmas shopping guide, and I like to be consistent. ;-))

Photo credit: Gareth Harper

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