Mondays on Memory Lane: The Search for the BEST rendition of “The Night Before Christmas”

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Every Christmas Eve when I was a little girl, my baby brother and I would snuggle in my bed with Mom and she would read to us Clement C. Moore’s classic poem, “The Night Before Christmas”. I think this may be one of my all-time favorite poems (yes… out of all poems). I love it so much that in middle school I selected it to recite it in front of my English class. I’m pretty sure I was the only person who memorized a Christmas poem, but I have always kind of danced to the beat of my own drum.

This Christmas season I have been on the hunt for the very best illustrated version of this holiday standard. There are so many different versions, that Santa could not fit them all in his sleigh if he tried! What I found though is that there isn’t one superior version. Each of my top picks has something special about it. My hope is that this list helps you find the perfect version for your family’s library.

Best Traditionally Illustrated:
The Night Before Christmas: The Heirloom Edition
Illustrated by: Charles Santore

This version is perfect for those looking for a classic/traditional version. The stunning and detailed illustrations transport you back in time. I love how this interpretation matches the antiquated English of the text. This version also includes an audiobook CD narrated by Jeff Bridges, a Christmas Countdown poster, Keepsake Envelope, and Holiday Music CD.

Best Contemporary Illustrations:
The Night Before Christmas
Illustrated by: Antonio Javier Caparo

Caparo’s life-like illustrations seem to pop off the page in this edition and almost have a Pixar-ish vibe. These modern illustrations combined with the original text make for a version that is relatable to today’s child. The family pictured in the story could be any contemporary family. This version also wins the “Most Friendly-Looking Santa” award!

Best Version for Babies/Toddlers:
The Night Before Christmas
Illustrated by: Janet Samuel

Unlike many of the versions I checked out, Samuel’s illustrated version features bright and cutesy pictures. This charming edition is perfect for little ones! I love the merge of the bubbly, cartoon-like Santa with Moore’s original text.

Most Nostalgic:
The Night Before Christmas
Illustrated by: Jan Brett

Jan Brett’s books always make me think of wintertime. Many of you will recognize her iconic artistic style from her seasonal classic, The Mitten. The little ‘windows’ of detail on each page were always my favorite parts of her books, and her interpretation of The Night Before Christmas does not disappoint! This version also features a DVD audiobook including Brett’s illustrations. It is narrated by Jim Dale, with accompanying music from the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Best Religious Interpretation:
Twas the Evening of Christmas
Written by: Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by: Elena Selivanova

Christian children’s author Nellist tells this nativity story in the same style as Moore’s classic poem. The rhyming and word choice are on point. This book is not only a great twist on the original Christmas poem, it’s an excellent retelling of the Jesus’ birth that is guaranteed to hold your child’s attention. Selivanova’s illustrations round out this beautiful book, with cheerful pictures of the Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the stable animals.

Top Contemporary Retelling:
Frozen Olaf’s Night Before Christmas Book
Written by:
Jessica Julius
Illustrated by: Olga T. Mosqueda

True to Olaf’s character he combines love and laughter in his retelling of the traditional tale. Fans of Disney’s Frozen (like me!) will LOVE this ‘fractured fairytale’ version. Includes a CD audiobook narration by Olaf!

Which is perfect for your family? Let me know in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of the Amazon links on my site, a small portion goes to Mini Moments of Magic. Thank you for your support. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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