Nativity picture books play a big part in our December traditions. Every night leading up to Christmas, I read my kids a different Christmas themed bedtime story. Some are silly and goofy, but we always make sure to sprinkle our best nativity picture books as well.
I am excited to share with you some nativity picture books that are my personal favorites, but also some of my sister’s favorites. My sister, Amy, is an avid lover of children’s books. Plus, she works as a story time coordinator at her public library. Talk about getting recommendations from an expert!
There are no mentions of Santa in any of these recommend nativity picture books.
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Amy’s Best Nativity Picture Books
A Savior Is Born: Rocks Tell The Story of Christmas by Patti Rokus – This unique books is illustrated completely through photographs of rocks. Each photo tells part of the navitiy story along with simple text and Bible verse references.
Away in a Manger by Mike Jaroszko – This books takes the lyrics to the 3 verses of the classic Christmas carol, and pairs them with beautiful illustrations by Mike Jaroszko.
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman – A little mouse searching for a warm home stumbles upon a nativity. Every day he removes the statues until he overhears the family talking about the birth of Baby Jesus. Mortimer sets up the nativity properly, and discovers a new home that is just right for him and an answer to his prayers.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell – From the perspective of animals, one by one new creatures join the barn as the kind ox tells them, “There’s always room for a little one here.” Eventually, they are joined by Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus.
Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown – This books tells the story of Jesus’s birth in the barn with simple rhymes. It was written by the same author as Goodnight Moon, and republished with several different illustrators. The version by Diane Good (pictured above) is a brighter and more simplistic version.
Cock-A-Doodle Christmas by Will Hillenbrand – A young rooster is nervous about his new responsibility to wake up the farm, and it isn’t going well. However, he is filled with peace and confidence when Baby Jesus was born in his barn. He proudly woke up the farm with an announcement of “good news.”
Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lowry – The writer of the popular Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know?,” took his lyrics and put them in this book. Each page has lyrics to the song, a Bible verse, and an illustration featuring a moment in the life of Jesus. (It looks like there is a less expensive and updated version here.)
The Message of The Birds by Kate Westerlund – An old owl tells the story of Baby Jesus and the message of peace that birds used to sing songs about. The owl explains that birds stop singing the song because people can’t hear this message in the bird songs anymore, but children can. The birds decided to continue to sing the message of peace, and the book ends with children joining hands in peace.
Amy’s Most Favorite Nativity Picture Book
The Christmas Cat by Maryann MacDonald – This sweet story tells a tale of Baby Jesus being comforted by a kitten on the night of his birth. Jesus and the cat form a special bond. Mary and Joseph must leave the cat behind to escape the threat of King Herod together, but thankfully the cat snuck into their bags to be close to Jesus.
Amy says this is her favorite nativity book because she loves the illustrations. Additionally, she appreciates how the story imagines Jesus growing up with a sweet cat He first met on Christmas night.
Rebekah’s Best Nativity Picture Books
Christmas Angels by Crystal Bowman – In this simple board book with rhyming phrases, the author tells the story of Jesus’s birth by featuring each of the angels that were there along the way.
Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck and Felicia Bond – This best-selling board book features different animals and people that were part of Jesus’s birth. The book starts with the star and ends with Baby Jesus. The rhyming words and illustrations are simply precious.
A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker – As a family is gathered around their Christmas tree, getting ready for bed, a small child starts noticing all of the Christmas blessings around them. They start thanking God for things like Mary, the manger, the star, the donkey, and Jesus. The book ends with these sweet lines: God, I know that Christmas is more than toys or lists. Thank you for loving me so much and for these Christmas gifts.
Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? by Laura Krauss Melmed – A small bird in the barn starts to spread the word about Jesus’s birth. More and more animals tell their friends and rush to see the baby. The book ends with all of the animals welcoming Jesus and then falling asleep along with the little baby.
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – Although not what you typically think of when you think of picture books (because of its size), this book contains one of the most powerful versions of the nativity story that I have read. It beautifully speaks to the power and meaning behind Jesus’s life.
Rebekah’s Most Favorite Nativity Picture Book
Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate and Ashely Wolff – A mouse is spreading the news in the barn that someone is coming to their house. Each of the animals does their part to make the home welcoming, but everyone is wondering who exactly is coming. Mouse keeps it a secret until the guests arrive. Then Mouse ends the book by whispering, “Welcome, welcome to our house!”
This is my favorite book because of the way Mouse whispers with reverence and welcome’s Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to their home. I get choked up every time I read it. I always find myself asking my kids, “Can you imagine if they came to our house?”
Bonus Christmas Books:
A Christmas Prayer by Tiger Tales – While this book does not mention Jesus or the nativity, it is focused on prayer. On each page, sweet animals acknowledge the goodness of the Christmas season around them and offer up a thankful prayer to God. They thank God for things like food, family, music, gifts, snowy weather, and more.
The Littlest Christmas Star by Brandi Dougherty – Poor Max wants the biggest part in the Christmas play at school, but was given the small role of “Star.” He tries to be more involved, but ultimately learns that the “Star” really is a shining role. This book does not directly mention Jesus, but the school play is the nativity story.
For more book suggestions:
- 8 Quality “Santa Free” Christmas Storybooks
- 5 Fun Picture Books Parents Won’t Dread Reading
- Not Your Average Color Books
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may receive a commission on your purchase.