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Reading Our Way Through Advent

30 November 2011

My kids came downstairs this morning to find our basket of "Advent" books. My daughter said, "Yeah! Those are some of my favorite books!"  The kids have been inspecting them and trying to decide what to pick first... but they can't start until tomorrow!

For my daughter's first Christmas, I wanted to do an Advent calendar, but she wasn't quite one, and I wasn't keen on the idea of giving her a piece of chocolate every day (and I didn't know about all of the other wonderful homemade Advent calendars like those that I've seen all over the web this year!) I saw an idea in Family Fun Magazine for doing a basket of 24 Christmas books... unwrapping one book to read each day.

Not wanting to splurge on a bunch of new books, I decided to buy a few and just count down for as many days as I had books. Then, each year, on Christmas, my husband and I give all of our kids a new Christmas book. (I also do this for my Godson and will be doing it for my new Goddaughter as well!)

Finally, this year, we have MORE than enough books, so I was able to leave out some of the "filler" books and I was able to include mostly favorites! As our collection continues to grow, I will either just pick 24 favorites, or if we get enough, possibly have more than one basket (perhaps one with young kid books and one for the older kids.)

Want to make your own? Don't worry if you don't have 24 Christmas books... if you have 10 books, do a ten day countdown this year. Other options are using library books, or checking out the Salvation Army or Goodwill for inexpensive books.  I've also had people give me Christmas books- once I told them about our idea, they were excited to help us add to our collection.  Not all of the books are great, but the quality is increasing each year as the kids get their new Christmas books.

Here are some of our favorite Christmas books:

Two favorites for which I couldn't find images are: "Santa's Beard is Soft and Warm," (This may be out of print... but I LOVE it. I had it as a child and it is a "touch and feel" book that is always a favorite. You also get to "snap" Santa's suspenders- how great is that??! ) "The Gift of the Maji," by O'Henry is another one of my childhood favorites- and has such a good message.

What are your favorite Christmas books? I would love suggestions since I'm still searching for this year's "new books," for Christmas day.

Here are some books I'm considering...

Crystal from Money Saving Mom shared my link in her post: Six Free Printables for Advent. Be sure to check out the post for more great ideas, including a different way to display the books using your mantel.

Disclosure: The images of the books contain my Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I receive an advertising fee.


  1. I really love this idea! I have seen it done with library books if people didn't have enough Christmas books at home.

  2. Christmas Tapestry – Patricia Polaco

    The Year of the perfect Christmas Tree – Gloria Houston

    One Wintery Night – Ruth Bell Graham (could be used as an Advent Book)

    Little One we Knew You’d Come – Sally Lloyd Jones
    Song of the Stars – Sally Lloyd Jones

    We sometimes use The Jesus Story Book Bible as our Advent reading - start at the beginning and read to His birth. It's lovely, gives the children a bigger picture.

    Thanks for your list, I picked up a couple ideas. Linked here from Money Saving Mom.


  3. I thought of that idea as I wrote this post... too bad I hadn't thought of it all those years that I didn't have enough books to make the whole 24!

  4. Wendy- Thanks so much for the suggestions! I hadn't heard of any of those!

  5. We love This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten... such a nice rendition of the nativity story!

  6. Thanks for the recommendation Susan. I'm always on the lookout for books that tell the Nativity story in a new way!

  7. We have God Gave Us Christmas and I love the message of it. However, my oldest (who was 4 last Christmas) could never sit through all of it. We haven't tried it this year to see if does better. I think it is a great book for kids just a little bit older.

  8. Thanks, Julie. I appreciate the review. I haven't read the book, I've only heard of it. Perhaps it would be good for my oldest.

  9. This is a great idea! When I was about 10, I asked for a book a year from my mom; she's gone above and beyond (like 5+ books/year). I have boxes of Christmas books and no ideas of what to do with them.

  10. Wow! Johanna, how exciting to have so many Christmas books. If you have more than one child, you could make a basket for each... my kids are so excited to dig into the basket tomorrow (they kept asking if they could start today!) I'm anticipating conflicts about who gets to pick the book- If I had enough books, I think I'd definitely make a basket for each.

  11. Love this idea j!! How is it I am just hearing of it now?! Charley would live this! Guess I have a few hours to wrap us some of our books!! Ha! Xoxo

  12. We love your first six pictured favorites!(want to read the rest!) And love Song of the Stars. And some more I love a lot: Papa Panov's Special Day by Mig Holder and Tolstoy- older edition's good too. Christmas Day in the Morning- this is my all time favorite- by Pearl S. Buck, ill. by Mark Buehner (kids find shapes in the clouds in his books) Good King Wenceslas- wonderful story-I like John Wallner's version best- get a used copy, kids love his pictures. I also love The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Whelan. Christmas in the Country, Cynthia Rylant

    Other keepers in our basket:
    Christmas is Here- Lauren Castillo
    The Baker's Dozen, a St Nickolas Tale by Aaron Shepherd
    Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood
    the Legend of Old Befana by Tomie DePaola
    That Blessed Christmas Night - Dori Chaconas
    Friendly Beasts-
    Spirit of Christmas Ruth Tillman
    The Miracle of St. Nicholas by Gloria Whelan
    Reindeer Christmas by Mark Moulton. bit odd.
    Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo
    The Christmas Baby by Sally _
    Fourth Wiseman, Mig Holder
    The Story of Christmas - Mary Packard a lovely advent for little kids-
    Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Dick Schneider
    Have you filled a bucket today- Not Christmas themed, but we use it with holiday service projects.
    A Newbery Christmas - Martin H. Greenber -chpt bk excerpts.
    Santa Mouse- kids like. the orig Grinch.
    Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas by Antonie Schneider
    Family Under the Bridge (chapters)
    The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snatcher, Robert Kraus. A hit.
    Silent Night: The Song and Its Story
    by Margaret Hodges (check libraries)
    Toot and Puddle: I'll be Home for Christmas
    Silent Night, Holy Night: The Story of the Christmas Truce by Stephen Wunderl__
    Trees of the Dancing Goats, Patricia Polacco
    Blacksmith's Gift, chpt. bk.
    Franklin's Christmas Gift
    Drummer Boy, Loren Long -for older-
    Little Fir Tree, Margeret Wise Brown, happy end
    The adventures of Nicolas Helen Siiteri
    Jolly christmas Postman Allan Ahlberg
    Tall Book of Christmas
    Angela and the baby Jesus, childrens ed, Frank McCourt
    Father and Son, A Nativity Story G. McCaughrean
    My Christmas Collection-pub by Tommy Nelson, 3 stories in one
    Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve-just silly
    Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas-older
    This is the Stable
    The Small One-long
    The Christmas Donkey, T. Taylor
    The picture book versions of Little House on the Prairie, in the Big Woods, etc, Christmases.
    Thanks for your posts.
    (I just love sharing books- and Christmas!)

  13. Wow! How am I going to settle on just three books this year!! Thanks for all of the fabulous recommendations!

    G- I don't know how it's possible that I never told you about this before! I know that I got Cha a book at least one of the past two Christmases- I can't believe that I wouldn't have told you about it then...

  14. This is a sweet Advent count down idea. My daughter loved books (she's 18 now though and on her own). Will do it for grandchildren (but hopefully not for another 10 years)

    Thanks for sharing :D

    Visiting from Refresh Your Nest linky party at Making Lemonade's blog.

    Suzanne in NW Illinois

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  16. Love this take on the Advent! We are readers in my house, and I think I might just have 24 Christmas books on hand (one of the dangers of being a school librarian, teehee). Thanks for linking this great idea up to Refresh Your Nest Friday!

  17. Carrie, I used to be an elementary teacher and I definitely had a "book buying obsession" back then. Now it seems that the kids "eat up" (pun intended?) the funds that used to go towards my book buying fund :) I hope you try the advent calendar and have fun with it. I know that my kids are enjoying it (although the little one thinks he should get to open his own book every day rather than take turns!) Hopefully, next year, I'll have enough for two baskets!


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