A list of the christmas books, movies, and TV shows we have loved and enjoyed for years – these are the ones to watch and read year after year.
Some of our most anticipated family traditions during the holidays is to read (and re-read) Christmas books and watch (and re-watch) movies and TV shows that are both fun and meaningful. Curling up on the couch with cozy blankets and reading books out loud or watching movies is such a wonderful, quiet way to celebrate the season.
The other thing I like about this tradition is that it’s inexpensive, can happen on your schedule, and doesn’t seem to add to the bustle of the holidays like other activities can. The bonus is that many of the best books and shows are great conversation starters about what the true meaning of Christmas is and how we can help and serve others.
I polled our kids and Brian about which of the many Christmas books, movies and shows we’ve watched through the years that they remember and look forward to the most to create these favorites lists – I hope you find a few to add to your own list! I hope you’ll chime in and let me know some of your favorites in the comments- I’m always looking to add to our holiday traditions!
Favorite Christmas Books, Movies & Shows
(You can click the affiliate links below to read more about each item)
Favorite Christmas Books for All Ages
1. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis. “It would be sad if it was always winter and never Christmas.” Thankfully Aslan came and there is Christmas. A classic for ages 8 and up.
2. The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry. This is such a wonderful story about sacrificial love and how material things are not the important things. A story our family talked a lot about and continues to influence us. Highly recommend for 10 and up.
3. Christmas in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I couldn’t wait to read The Little House on The Prairie books to my kids and this picture book wonderfully illustrates how different Christmas was in the past. I love history and think we can learn a lot from the past, but this also helped us talk about all we have now and to be grateful.
4. Robert Sabuda’s incredible pop-up books like The Christmas Story and 12 Days of Christmas. They are simply the most amazingly detailed pop-ups you’ll ever see and are something we all look forward to opening every Christmas.
5. If You Take a Mouse to The Movies, Laura Numeroff. We started reading this when our daughter was small, but I think we read it every year into high school! It’s so fun anticipating what that cheeky mouse will do next.
6. The Christmas Story, Jane Werner Watson. We have a soft spot for classic Golden Books and the illustrations in this story are just perfect. Start this one as soon as the kids can listen to books.
7. The Jolly Christmas Postman, Janet & Allan Ahlberg. All the Jolly Postman books are super fun – for kids and for those who to read to them – since you get to pull out letters and cards to read. Plus the letters are from fairy tale characters, which is endlessly fascinating to children. My kids wanted to read these again and again.
Jan Brett and Christmas go hand-in-hand – we love so many of her books and amazing illustrations! Here are 4 of our top picks:
8. The Mitten, The book that started it all for us – seeing what happens to a lost mitten is pure magic.
9. Gingerbread Friends The boy from The Mitten returns with the Gingerbread Baby as he looks for friends and finds them where he started. The pop-out at the end is wonderful.
10. Gingerbread Baby Oh, that naughty Gingerbread Baby! Wonderful surprise ending that involves the boy from The Mitten as well.
11. The Night Before Christmas The classic poem told with Jan Brett’s detailed illustrations and fun “preview” sidebars. My son remembers this one especially.
Favorite Christmas Movies & TV for All Ages
1. A Christmas Story Brian and the kids LOVE this movie – personally I find it a bit stressful! But it is a super fun story that we have to watch every year.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life Would it be Christmas without It’s a Wonderful Life? I don’t think so – and so we don’t even try. I still get teary at this one, which is amazing after so many years.
3. White Christmas The story of this doesn’t get old – friendship, love, family, and getting along – and neither do the songs. My favorite? “Sisters.” Plus, who can’t help but stare at Vera-Ellen’s super tiny waist?
4. Holiday Inn Probably my favorite Bing Crosby movie of all! Even though there’s actually not much Christmas in this one, it’s still a holiday movie for us – and it has the original version of the “White Christmas” song.
5. Christmas in Connecticut This movie isn’t as well-known, but it’s totally fun to watch Barbara Stanwyck pretend to be a Martha Stewart-type character for a holiday dinner when she’s really a city journalist that has been making up homemaking stories for a newspaper column. If you haven’t seen this, do put it on your list- you’ll love it!
6. A Christmas Carol (1984 with George C. Scott) The best version, in our opinion. We just love the conversations we continue to have about life and choices from watching this classic tale.
7. Elf Silly and fun, it’s just pure holiday enjoyment.
8. Trains, Planes, and Automobiles While this is a slapstick comedy, it has the sweetest sentiment ever at the end.
9. The Small One TV by Disney (and book it was based on by Alex Walsh) I loved, loved this story – even though I know it’s not accurate, the feelings and points it makes brings me to tears every time. And my son asked to have this read to him every year – and then we’d watch the video. So good.
10. Frosty the Snowman The classic you have to watch and sing along with!
11. Santa Claus is Coming to Town My daughter is still surprised that this is my favorite TV show, since I downplay Santa in our house (to me he represents the ‘gimme-gimme’ part of Christmas…). But it is all bound up in my childhood – I loved this animation, the origins of so many Santa traditions- including how he got his name, his “Ho Ho” laugh, his flying reindeer and his stocking-stuffer habit. My favorite song is “Put one foot in front of the other…” which I sang as my kids learned to walk! We found Rudolph (this same animation) a little too sad and like this one better.
12. Charlie Brown Christmas Maybe the other thing that’s not Christmas without? Because everyone needs to know what a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” looks like!
Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite Christmas books, movies and shows?
This article is part of the 8 Weeks of Christmas Ideas series where you’ll find resources for cooking, gift ideas, time savers, recipes, traditions & more all November and December through the 24th.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and by clicking on them you help support AOC at no extra cost to you – thanks so much! Plus you can trust I’ll only share what I love. (You can always read our entire disclosure page here.)