Long before the advent of Christianity, plants, and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people during winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries, it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. In the 16th century Germany started the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it, when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if the wood was scarce.
Here are a few books with the theme Christmas tree from different countries, retelling, and stories that carry beautiful messages.
The Christmas Pine
Shortlisted for The British Book Awards 2022 Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year The Christmas Pine, illustrated spectacularly by Victoria Sandey, is a magical picture book that is based on a special tradition that dates back over seventy years. Every year, the Mayor of Oslo in Norway presents the British people with a spectacular Christmas tree. The tree is a symbol of peace and friendship, and a thank you for the UK’s support during World War II. Each year, the UK Poetry Society asks a poet to write a poem to welcome the tree. Julia Donaldson originally wrote The Christmas Pine to celebrate the 2020 Christmas tree.
Deep in snowy wood stands a little pine tree with a special destiny: when it grows up, it’s going to be the famous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square!
A wish to be a Chrismas tree
This charming tale is of an overgrown pine who has ” A Wish to be a Chrismas tree“.
In a lot that sells Christmas trees, each pine hopes to be chosen by a family. By chance this pine tree has been skipped for many years and is now too tall for most homes. However “his woodland friends decorate him with special things hanging from every limb” to make his wish come true and tell him in the dearest words “We should have told you the many ways you are special to us and brighten our days”. He sees that he is chosen and dear to his own family. Written by Colleen Monroe, beautifully in rhyme, the story shares a special message and lets children of all ages know that it is OK to be different! The delightful illustrations by Michae Glenn Monroe makes the book even more appealing.
The Carpenter’s Gift
This modern classic Christmas story teaches children the spirit of the season by bringing together two great New York City traditions: the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.
Opening in Depression-era New York City, The Carpenter’s Gift tells the story of eight-year-old Henry and his father selling Christmas trees. They give a Christmas tree to construction workers building Rockefeller Center and celebrate together. Through the kindness of the construction workers and neighbors, Henry gets his wish for a nice, warm home to replace his family’s drafty shack. He plants a pinecone from that first Rockefeller Center Tree. As an old man, Henry repays the gift by donating the enormous tree that has grown from that pinecone to become a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. After bringing joy to thousands as the Rockefeller Center tree, its wood will be used to build a home for another family in need.
Written by children’s nonfiction author David Rubel in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. Gorgeous illustrations crafted by Jim LaMarche.
“Rubel’s story of compassion hits all the right holiday notes; LaMarche’s lush, warm illustrations of glowing Christmas trees and smiling, caring characters drive home the central message of charity.” —The Horn Book
The little fir tree
Deep in the forest, there lives a beautiful “Little fir tree“. Though he’s surrounded by the wonders of nature, the little fir tree can only compare himself to the other things in the forest, and find himself lacking.
The seasons change and the bigger fir trees around him are picked and taken to see the world – some are made into cabins and others are made into boats. But the little fir tree is still not picked. That is, until Christmas Eve, when he is specially chosen and taken into town, and it feels like all his dreams have come true. But what will happen the day after?
In this beautifully illustrated modern retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, the values of appreciating what we already have and the cycles of nature are explored. The story of the little fir tree is brought to life with the vivid, folk-inspired artwork from Christopher Corr.
An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree
Possum notices the children decorating a tree near their house, he asks Kookaburra what is happening. So begins the animals interest of decorating a tree, but have no idea how to go about it, where do they find the decorations? Magpie has an idea; we will ask Bower Bird, after all he collects lot of sparkling things.
They all set out to find his bower and ask him for help.
In four line rhyming verses, the idea of the Aussie Christmas Tree develops with a possum, kookaburra, wedge tailed eagle, wombat, koala, kangaroo, magpie, and bowerbird making an appearance in their quest to make “An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree”. They collect lots of things from the bowerbird, taking them back to the gum tree near the farm and begin to decorate the tree. But all the decorations fall off the tree and onto the ground. The bowerbird shows them how to thread the trinkets onto the tree using pegs. Written by Jackie Hosking and illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom, published in 2021, the book is a humorous story about Christmas tree and its decoration, Australian animals, Australian flora and fauna for ages 4+
Oh, Christmas Tree
If you are looking for a Christmas story with a twist, then Oh, Christmas Tree is the one. With hilarious rhyming text, outstanding illustrations, brilliant characters, and a plot par excellence jointly created by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet this book is an instant favorite. All along the street windows display decorated Christmas trees, except at number 34. There, a desperate looking bare tree is being chased by Belle, Bauble and the Tinsel Snake. Tree is explaining that in no way is he going to stand in the corner in a pot, with a star on his head. Oh no; he wants to spend his days, baking, riding a bike, skating, or sometimes watching TV for a bit. It takes much ingenuity for the decorations to work out a plan to trick the tree into becoming decorated. The ending should bring lots of smiles to readers, as the pictures tell us just how their plan is achieved.
Tree of cranes
A Japanese boy cannot resist playing at an ice-cold pond. When he comes home and is treated for a cold, with a hot bath and rice gruel. But it seems like his mother is acting very strange. Hearing a noise in the garden, the boy spies Mama digging up the pine tree that was planted when he was born. She brings it inside and decorates it with paper cranes and candles. It is a Christmas tree, the first for the boy, and the first in many years for his mother, who tells her son she comes from “a warm place called Ca-li-for-ni-a.”
The “Tree of cranes” is a sentimental tale that celebrates the merging of two cultures. Allen Say‘s gentle words combined with beautiful, soft watercolors highlights a time of peace, love, and hope as a mother shares a treasured tradition with her child.