Christmas Read Alouds: 10 Surprising Christmas Tales You Need to Read This Year

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Enjoying Christmas read alouds as a family is a wonderful holiday tradition. This year, consider these ten books that break away from the typical Christmas story recommendations.

I know what you’re thinking! It just isn’t Christmas if we don’t read A Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, or The Little Match Girl. Part of the comfort and magic of the season is knowing these stories will make their annual appearances.

Christmas read alouds

Written by Bethany Ishee of BethanyIshee.com.

But perhaps you’re looking for something new this year. Maybe you would like to engage your older children who aren’t as eager to hear the same story over and over as they once were. Or maybe, in addition to your regular line-up, you want to add something new to your read-aloud list.

Whatever the reason, here are ten surprising Christmas read-alouds you need to consider this year. From forgotten older books to contemporary literature, there is sure to be a tale or two to pique your holiday spirits.

Christmas Read-Alouds You Might Not Have Considered

Christmas and reading aloud go together like hot cocoa and marshmallows, and reading as a family is a holiday tradition for many. However, maybe you’ve read all of the Christmas classics and are ready for a new holiday adventure. Here are 10 Christmas read alouds you might not have considered before, but should.

1. The Light at Tern Rock

Who doesn’t love a lighthouse? The Light at Tern Rock is a Newberry Honor winner set on the Canadian coast.  Ronnie and his Aunt Martha have agreed to man the lighthouse while its keeper has his first Christmas visit with his family in many years. However, through some trickery, their stay extends through Christmas, which upsets Ronnie.

A shorter book that could be read aloud in one day, The Light at Tern Rock is also an ideal choice for a young reader just beginning chapter books to read independently.

2. The Family Under the Bridge

Armand likes his life living under a bridge in Paris. Then, just before Christmas, a mother and her three children who have also come to the bridge for shelter disrupt his quiet life. The Family Under the Bridge is a story of love and looking beyond the circumstances of others to see their true character. It’s a wonderful way to feel the love of Christmas.

3. Nancy and Plum

Do you love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle as much as we do? Try this book by Mrs. Piggle Wiggle author, Betty MacDonald! Originally published in 1952, Nancy and Plum is the tale of two orphaned sisters left alone over Christmas at their boarding school.

However, they hatch a plan never to spend Christmas at Mrs. Monday’s school again.

4. Winterfrost

This contemporary fairy tale written in the tradition of Danish folklore makes a lovely holiday read aloud. Winterfrost is the story of Bettina, a young girl who suddenly finds herself watching her younger sister on Christmas Eve. Bettina forgets to leave the porridge out for the nisse (similar to elves).  But that’s okay. The nisse aren’t real, anyway, right?

This tale is a delightful blend of fantasy and old-world Christmas tradition.

Christmas roud aloud - winterfrost book

5. Greenglass House

A mystery set during Christmas at a creaky inn that is unusually deserted for the holidays, Greenglass House combines clues, curious children, and captivating characters to reveal its mysterious past and collection of visitors.

If you love a mystery, this is a perfect Christmas read-aloud for you.

6. The Toymaker’s Apprentice

A modern retelling of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which served as Tchaikovsky’s inspiration for The Nutcracker ballet, The Toymaker’s Apprentice takes you on an adventure through Germany to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll.

7. Letters from Father Christmas

A charming collection of letters that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his children every Christmas conveying the tales of Father Christmas and other North Pole characters, Letters from Father Christmas is a delight to both the eyes and ears.

8. The True Gift

Another short chapter book that you can read in one sitting is The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan, author of Sarah, Plain and Tall. With the theme of giving to others, this story of a boy’s kind-heartedness, which extends to all those around him, is sure to become a holiday tradition.

9. A Tree for Peter

Originally published in 1941, A Tree for Peter is a short novel by Kate Seredy. This story of a young boy who lives in a shantytown appears to be one of despair. However, the visit by a mysterious friend bearing the gift of a small tree and spade inspires hope and faith in both Peter and his neighbors.

10. Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas

Written by Madeline L’Engle, Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas is the tale of the Austin family’s Christmas. The three oldest children are looking forward to their annual traditions, but what if the new baby arrives before Christmas, and Mother has to stay at the hospital? How can they have Christmas without Mother?


Consider Some New Christmas Read Alouds

Is it time for a new Christmas read-aloud? Or, are you just beginning the tradition of holiday-themed chapter books?

Wherever you find yourself, I hope you will discover an unexpected gem in this list and create beautiful family memories. There is always a place for traditional Christmas literature, but sometimes we need to step outside our routine and find something new and inspiring. The hardest part will be deciding which Christmas read-aloud to choose.

Does your family have any unusual holiday read alouds?

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