The Twelve Books of Christmas: Holiday Picture Books

We don't always do routines & traditions very well, but I've been trying to start more traditions, especially around the holiday season. 

Two picture books for Christmas

One of my favorites is reading seasonal picture books.

We haven't found a good routine for this year yet, but last year, instead of doing a standard Advent calendar, I found and wrapped 24 books for my kids. (Many of them were used; some of them I bought from authors I follow). And each night during December, my kids opened a new book.

In a perfect world, they would have all been Christmas books, but--my kids like Minecraft and rocket ships too, so some of those might have snuck in as well. 

Never fear, though! We ready plenty of other Christmas books that month, include a number pictures books with different adaptations of the classic poem "The Twelve Days of Christmas." 

There are probably hundreds of adaptations available, but here's my list with twelve versions of "Twelve Days" that you should look for this year!

(This list includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. There is no additional cost to purchasers to use these links.)

Classic picture books for Christmas

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jan Brett – a phenomenal illustrator’s take on the classic poem with a multicultural celebration of Christmas. Be sure to check the vignettes on the sides of the pages and see if you can read “Merry Christmas” in a dozen languages. The author has also written some of my favorite winter-time picture books, so I’d recommend reading those books as well. 
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Britta Teckentrup – another well-known illustrator’s version of this poem. This one is more whimsical, with gnome-like figures and peek-through illustrations. 
  • The Worst Twelve Days of Christmas, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Ryan Wood - .one girl’s Christmas dreams start to fall apart when her little brother crawls onto the scene. This one is an especially good story for older siblings dealing with changes during the holidays. 
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas in America series, by various authors – each book in this series features a Christmas adventure in a different state, exploring what makes each state unique. Find your state’s version or look for other states for a geography adventure! 
  • A Pinata in a Pine Tree, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Magaly Morales – a Hispanic Christmas celebration with a bilingual Spanish-English text. I love the vibrant illustrations in this version, as well as the rollicking story. 

Modern picture books for Christmas

  • 12 Days of Christmas, by Rachel Isadora – what would Christmas be like in Africa? This book turns the classic poem into a fresh adventure with tribal drummers, traditional outfits, and more. 
  • A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas, by Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra – a swashbuckling, nautical adventure with a young cabin boy worried about missing Christmas. Fortunately, Christmas can happen even at sea.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs, by Carolyn Conahan – a version of the poem that replaces the gifts with puppies. The dogs are adorable, and the illustrations are just perfect for this lively story. 
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas Cats, by Don Daily – more of a cat person? This is the Christmas book for you with fantastical illustrations of cats romping through the story. It’s also available as a board book, so toddlers can get in on the fun. 
  • A Firefly in a Fir Tree: A Carol for Mice, by Hilary Knight – even the mice are celebrating Christmas in the lovable story. The text may be a bit hard to read, but the watercolor illustrations are gorgeous.
Do you have any favorite Christmas picture books? I'd love to hear about them.

Picture book recommendations for the holidays