The Best New Children's Christmas Books for 2021 You've Probably Never Heard Of
These new children’s books were all written by independent authors, many of whose works have yet to be discovered by the larger book reading world. But make no mistake; the books listed below (in no particular order) are as wonderful and rare as are the authors and artists who created them. Although there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of established titles to choose from out on the market, if what you’re looking for this holiday season is something every bit as magical as those more readily recognizable but far more unique—sort of like finding that perfect gift at a craft show or art fair—here are a few truly hidden treasures that would be perfect under any tree this year. May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!
Queen Vernita's Magical Christmas Train Ride
Written by Dr. Dawn Menge, Illustrated by Pamela Sydney
Amazingly illustrated and a pre-school educator’s dream! The story catalogues a magical Christmas railroad trip with the waypoints along the way ranging from days of the week and months of the year, to national parks and the animals that live in them, and much more. The enchanting Christmas-themed narrative nimbly incorporates word repetition and vocalization in a way that will have little ones “reading along” literally the first time they hear it the story. Yes…. It’s that good. You heard it here first: When teachers discover this gem, it will become a holiday standard!
Noble: The Christmas Tree That Nobody Wanted
Written and Illustrated by Eric VanTuyl
If Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree had a name, it would be “Noble.” There are so many timeless, uplifting messages in this colorful classic in the making. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Being different doesn’t mean being “less.” Aesthetic imperfection does not equal “damaged.” Like a wildflower-covered springtime hilltop, the characters in Noble are of beautiful variety. The story is as heartwarming as the clever counting activities are fun. Noble should be a part of your holiday collection!
Little Pink Kitty Christmas
Written by Pete Marksteiner and Illustrated by Gayatri Ray
The lyrics of a new Christmas song tell the tale of a dad’s desperate, last minute Christmas Eve search for a stuffed pink kitty cat for his little girl. With captivating illustrations, the story describes how just when all seems lost, dad finds exactly what he’s looking for… and how the next morning he realizes the lesson we’re all meant to share: It’s not about things you give and receive because if you have friends and family you love and who love you, you’re already rich beyond compare. The song on which the story is based is available on Spotify, iTunes and all major streaming and retail sites, so the young—and young at heart—can enjoy it to follow along with the book, or as a holiday season lullaby. Don't miss this "two for one" treasure!
Where Is My Sleigh?
Written by Michael Ross and Illustrated by Magdelena Adic
With adorable, stylized illustrations, this sweet read for those at the younger end of their picture book years is about the selflessness of true friendship. When Santa temporarily loses his sleigh in the snow, his friends Mia and Arnie eagerly join the ensuing adventure to help him find it, not for reward or recompense, but because friendship is special, and because kindness between friends is always free. The setting of Where is My Sleigh is pure Christmas, but the message is as heartwarming as it is timeless, and this book will be a favorite all year long!
Hanna's Christmas Wish
Written by Alex Pin and Illustrated by Laura Catrinella
It’s exceedingly rare to find kids’ books depicting differentially abled children. Hanna’s Christmas Wish does just that in the context of a story that is at once heart rendering and sweetly uplifting. Although there are some wishes Santa simply can’t make come true, every new day brings with it opportunities to savor joy and happiness in doses large and small, and coming to that realization just might be the best gift of all. The illustrations are quite simply top shelf, and this book is a definite keeper!
The Caterpillar at Christmas
Written by P.G.R. Wright and Illustrated by C.J. Wright
It’s always such a joy to find a holiday themed book that not only conjures up warm feelings about the magic of the season, but that comes wrapped up in equally evocative lessons about the importance of being happy with who you are and appreciating the rare and precious beauty each and every one of us brings to the world. In this story our unlikely hero, a self-doubting plus-sized caterpillar, heeds Santa’s helpful encouragement and in so doing not only saves Christmas but realizes there’s someone in his life he’s forgotten to be proud of—himself. The product of a father-daughter collaboration, with all internal illustrations completed by young C.J., this book is a sweet, innocent, one of a kind find, to be sure!
Giving Not Getting: A Christmas Lesson
Written by Lynnda Robinson and Illustrated by Visual Myths
How many parents have found themselves at one time or another wondering if their kids’ holiday excitement was a bit too dependent on all the things they hoped to receive on Christmas morning? In Giving not Getting, mom and dad decide to add a new tradition to their holiday festivities focused on the simple joy of giving. It’s a beautifully relatable story with engaging, lifelike illustrations, and a fun “find Nick the Gnome” activity that’ll have little fingers turning pages and enjoying the search along with the story!
Captain Polo at the North Pole
Written and Illustrated by Alan J. Hesse
If you’ve got a young environmentalist on your Christmas shopping list, Captain Polo at the North Pole is that rare find you’re looking for. The book, with colorful, lively illustrations, will appeal to slightly older readers than the average picture book audience. The story cleverly introduces us to Captain Polo, a polar bear dedicated to preserving our precious planet, in the context of a tale about a Christmas that might not happen because Santa can’t get his sleigh out of the melting slush and into the air. It’s a delightful mix of storytelling, educating, and activities about a grown-up issue, delivered in a marvelously accessible and engaging way for the lil ones!
Pickles the Dog: A Christmas Tradition
Written by Kat Socks and Illustrated by Ben Brick
If you are an animal lover, Pickles the Dog, a Christmas Tradition is an absolute must have for holiday reading with your lil ones! The story is inspired by a real-life Pickles, a shelter adoptee who took more than a few tries to find the right forever home. Kat is overjoyed to share all her Christmas traditions with the newest member of her family. The story is about the inexhaustible kindness of childhood wonder and good cheer, Christmas cookies, lights, carols, Grandma, and a very special tradition celebrating the spreading of love in places that are all too often overlooked… and that need it the most. It’s literally impossible to read this beautiful, big hearted story without smiling! As a bonus, “A Christmas Tradition” is only one of a three-book series, so when your family falls in love with Pickles, as mine did, there are more adventures you can share together!
The Forgotten Ornament
Written by Daniel Shein and Argyro Graphy and Illustrated by Lina Safar
If you liked Corduroy, you’ll absolutely love the Forgotten Ornament! Willie, a rather worn Bear, wishes desperately to adorn the Christmas tree with all the rest of the animal ornaments in the collection. One by one, as the others are taken from their boxes and carefully placed on the tree, it appears Willie wish won’t come true… until Grandma Beverly’s memory reminds young Sarah that what our animal friends crave most is love and belonging, and that all of them are precious. Between the deftly crafted rhyming prose and the classic, heartwarming illustrations, The Forgotten Ornament genuinely touches a place in the human heart that will resonate with readers of all ages!
Special Bonus: Chapter Book for Young Readers!
The Mystery of the Missing Christmas: A Digger and Biscuit Adventure
Written by Heather G. Watts and Illustrated by Bex Sutton
It was only supposed to be a game of hide and seek, but our lovable pups, Digger and Biscuit find themselves being chased by a growling – howling – prowling – scowling – get – out – of – here now sound. On a quest to save Santa and discover who has stolen Christmas, they meet friends old and new including a skiing snowman, a pantomime genie and a helpful robot. Wherever they go, it seems the Growly – Howler Goes too. With Christmas getting closer, Digger and Biscuit are running out of time... and snacks – which is really worrying Digger! Join Digger and Biscuit in this absolutely adorable literary romp, filled with characters familiar to young readers, like Goldilocks, the Three Bears and “Lil Red,” woven into a page-turner that’ll have you coming back at “tuck in” time every evening in December leading up to Christmas. An inspired balance of a sweet story, age-appropriate language, and vivid descriptions will have you clutching your pillow, and the clever organization of the story into 25 chapters provides the perfect nightly seasonal crescendo leading right up to a heartwarming happy Christmas ending. This is an absolute must for young readers on your holiday gift list!