Get book recommendations, tips & advice, and more tailored to your child's age.

Thank You!

The perfect book picks are on their way.

You're all set!

Pre-K

Growing Reader

Is That You, Santa Claus?
13 Picture Books With Fresh Takes on Saint Nick

by Iva-Marie Palmer

santa-books

Santa Claus: We all know him as a jolly good fellow if there ever was one but, really, any true icon is open to interpretation. In these kids’ books, Old Saint Nick gets some new guises — as a dinosaur, a feline, and even a baby — but the Santa spirit is a constant. These 13 new takes on Santa nail the big guy’s essence, which would put all of the reads on his “nice” list.

  • The Real Santa

    by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow

    Also available from:

    A young Black boy wonders if the real Santa looks like the Santa in pictures, commercials, and at the mall, or if Santa may look more like him. Can he stay up late enough to find out? Full of heart and holiday spirit, this cozy story is a joyous celebration of the season, identity, and representation.

    Also available from:
  • The Animals’ Santa

    by Jan Brett

    Also available from:

    The animals are excited for the arrival of Santa in this entertaining book by the beloved Jan Brett. As Christmas approaches, the forest creatures speculate on who the animals’ Santa is — could it be a moose, a badger, or a wolf? Little ones will love the big reveal at the end.

    Also available from:
  • The Legend of the Christmas Witch

    by Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza, illustrated by Julia Iredale

    Also available from:

    A Christmas story unlike any other, The Legend of the Christmas Witch chronicles the life of Kris Kringle's long-lost twin sister, Kristtōrn. A powerful witch, Kristtōrn's tale will change everything you thought you knew about the holiday.

    Also available from:
  • Santa in the City

    by Tiffany D. Jackson, illustrated by Reggie Brown

    Also available from:

    Christmas is only two weeks away, and Deja is starting to get worried. With no chimney in her city apartment, how can Santa possibly find her? And with so many children in the world, will he have time to visit her? Thankfully, Deja’s family helps her to see the magic of Christmas all around her. This book is sure to be a family favorite for years to come.

    Also available from:
  • Santa Rex

    by Molly Idle

    Also available from:

    A new entry in the Santa canon, Caldecott winner Idle imagines her popular Rex character (of the picture books Tea Rex and Sea Rex) taking on an even kid-friendlier persona: Santa Claus. Sure to delight dinosaur lovers and holiday can’t-waiters alike, Rex — large stature and all — has a surprisingly delicate touch when it comes to preparing the many trappings of the season, from paper snowflakes to tree decorations.

    Also available from:
  • The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold

    by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Cale Atkinson

    Also available from:

    The Santa story gets flipped in this beyond-clever read where, instead of the focus being on a kid waiting for Santa’s special visit, it’s on Santa who anticipates hearing from a favorite kid. Santa can’t believe Harold writes him such nice letters, leaves such great cookies — but what if Harold isn’t real? A great picture book for the season, this one especially resonates with kids who are at an age where they start to wonder if Old Saint Nick really exists.

    Also available from:
  • Little Santa

    by Jon Agee

    Also available from:

    Every hero needs an origin story and though there are other several tales of how Santa became Santa, Agee’s version is extra cute. Baby Santa loves the North Pole, but his family doesn’t. When his elders decide to move to sunny Florida, Little Santa is miserable, until a blizzard comes to the rescue. When little Santa goes up the chimney to seek help for his relatives, he meets none other than some reindeer and elves willing to help and … well, it would be a spoiler to go much further.

    Also available from:
  • Santa’s New Jet

    by David Biedrzycki

    Also available from:

    In Biedrzycki’s book, he tackles the question of what happens when Santa’s workforce needs a break: The reindeer are out of shape. Leave it to the elves to engineer a jet to get him from place to place. Realistically, Santa should have a few modern amenities up his magical sleeves, but sometimes the old-fashioned way is better.

    Also available from:
  • Here Comes Santa Cat

    by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda

    Also available from:

    Cats love mischief, so how can one wind up on Santa’s nice list? In this book, Cat takes matters into his own paws and tries to delight kids with his own brand of gift-giving (with mixed results and lots of laughs). Still, Santa isn’t such a stickler on what counts as nice, and Santa Cat might just meet the man himself.

    Also available from:
  • Santa Retires

    by David Biedrzycki

    Also available from:

    This one might be a little worrisome at first for Christmas-loving kids … because in Santa Retires, Santa and Mrs. Claus are headed towards the tropics. After years of gift-making and delivering (that one big night takes a lot out of a guy!), Santa needs to call it quits. But, the existential question surfaces: Can Santa be jolly without Christmas?

    Also available from:
  • When Santa Was a Baby

    by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout

    Also available from:

    An adorable Santa origin story that the whole family will love! Even as a tiny tot, Santa did things his own way. He has an affinity for the cold, likes to give away his birthday presents, and has an odd obsession with chimneys. But what makes this book so special is seeing how proud Santa’s parents are of their child and how they love and support him just as he is.

    Also available from:
  • The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear

    by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain

    Also available from:

    Everyone’s favorite ursine family from childhood has a holiday tale at the ready! Though Santa in this book is bigger and hairier (and bear-ier) than the one kids are used to, leave it to the Berenstain Bears to keep the true message of the holidays — that it’s better to give than to receive — well intact.

    Also available from:
  • Tiny Reindeer

    by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

    Also available from:

    Granted, the focus here isn’t on Santa, but seeing how Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are essential parts of the operation, this one merits a mention. Tiny Reindeer desperately wants to help Santa and the team get ready for Christmas, but he is too small to join. But when a child asks for help, he is the only one that can come to the rescue! This book is an excellent reminder that even the smallest among us can hugely impact the world.

    Also available from:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2021.