There are so many holiday picture books with wonderful stories that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the great options. In the list below, we focused on nearly a dozen nature-inspired Christmas picture books and picture books for the winter holiday season to help you find a few that are just right for your family and the young children in your life.
All books listed below are great for a variety of ages and range from 20- 45 pages.
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If you can find the books from your local library, from a friend, at an independent bookstore, or through a used book shop, those sources are ideal. Using the library is zero waste, saves money, and saves space in your home because you can read all the books without storing all the books on your bookshelves. If you’re not sure of the best way to use your local library, check out these tips to make the most of your local library. With a little exposure, your kids will learn to LOVE the library!
If you prefer to listen to audiobooks, we recommend using Libro.fm, our favorite audiobook app. We’ve tried several audiobook apps and love that Libro.fm supports independent bookstores and offers a great user experience.
11 Nature-Inspired Holiday Picture Books
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
The Christmas tree is too tall for the first family’s house, so the top is chopped off and thrown out. Several iterations of this experience occur, and with each iteration, a new and smaller character finds the chopped-off top and it’s perfect for the tree in their house. The story comes back to the mouse living in the original family’s home who finds the perfect Christmas tree for their mouse family. In nature, everything has a use and a place.
When Santa Turned Green by Victoria Perla
Santa notices that the ice on the North Pole is starting to melt. He realizes they are melting due to global warming, and he enlists his helpers to address the situation.
The Great Spruce by John Duvall
Each year we cut down millions of trees to stand decorated in our homes and neighborhoods for a few weeks. No tree is more prominent than the large Norway spruce cut down to stand in Rockefeller Center in New York City each winter.
The tradition to decorate a tree in Rockefeller Center has endured for nearly a century. However, for a few years many decades ago, instead of chopping down a beloved old tree, those in charge of decorating the square dug up a tree, maintained it in Rockefeller Center for the holidays, and then reburied the tree to return it to the Earth. While this alternative didn’t last long, most likely due to the increased cost relative to chopping down a tree, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could encourage more people to use potted Christmas trees and replant them after the holiday?
This story, told through the eyes of a young boy whose favorite tree is being chopped down for his local city, reinforces this idea. The young boy does not want to give up the tree that was so important to him and his grandfather, so he encourages the city to dig up the tree and replant it after Christmas.
Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares
This is another take on the journey of the giant evergreen tree cut down and placed in Rockefeller Center each Christmas. In this story, birds live many seasons in this large evergreen tree they call home. One day, one of the birds returns to find the tree being chopped down and his partner bird traveling away with a tree. He follows the tree and his beloved bird to Rockefeller Center where they enjoy the magic of the season together in the tree. When the tree is again set up for transport away from Rockefeller Center, the two birds find a new home in Central Park.
Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols
Maple and Willow are sisters who love all sorts of trees, and they’re excited to cut down their own Christmas tree to bring home. Unfortunately, Maple is allergic to the tree and they must leave the tree outside.
While they are sad not to have a decorative tree in their house, Willow decorates another special item to share the magic of lights during the holiday. I love that this book encourages children to be resourceful and find festivities and delight in whatever they have available to them.
The Tree That’s Meant To Be by Yuval Zommer
A small and lonely tree surrounded by large and hardy trees in the forest feels inferior and left out. One day, many people come to visit the forest and chop down all of the large, beautiful trees. Now this meager tree stands alone and feels sad and lonely.
Shortly after, many animals from the forest come to decorate the tree for the holidays. With so much company, the tree realizes that the holiday spirit arrives when you share it with others who make their own magic together.
A Simple Christmas on the Farm by Phyllis Alsdurf
As the Christmas season sets in, a young girl speaks with her parents about the upcoming holiday. They discuss plans to have a simpler holiday with fewer gifts and more focused time on being together.
At first, the young girl worries about what Christmas will be like with fewer gifts under the tree. But as the holiday season progresses, she and her family bake cookies and make homemade ornaments together, they bring home a special Christmas tree, spend time with her grandparents, and make lots of holiday memories that are even better than all the gifts.
Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
From a simple pine tree to a fancy, stately Christmas tree, this story captures the step-by-step magic of turning a regular tree into something special for the holidays.
A Little Christmas Tree by Anthony Merrill and Michael Bast
A young pine tree longs to be taken home for the holidays to be the special Christmas tree for one family. For many years, it waits patiently for its turn. After many years, a branch breaks from the tree and it wonders if it will ever have a chance to fulfill its dreams. Little does the tree know there are grander plans in store for it.
The Lights that Dance in the Night by Yuval Zommer
From tiny specks of dust to gleaming rays in the dark, the northern lights travel across the Arctic, uniting every creature in a celebration over land and sea. This story share the journey of the northern lights as they travel from space to Earth and how they weave special magic for the animals and people living in the frozen lands below.
Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo
A plucky robin, lost and alone, sets out on an epic journey, guided only by a call in his heart saying “come home!” He wills his wings to beat faster, lifting him over great mountains and dark forests, through blinding blizzards and rolling fog, across the wide, wild sea. Can he find his way back to his family in time for Christmas?
Do you have any other nature-themed Christmas books? If so, be sure to share them in the comments so I can check them out. I will definitely grab a copy from my local library.
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Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.
You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.