We are being very selective in our Christmas traditions, but my favorite one that we (hopefully) will continue for all of the girls’ childhood is our book advent. I have a collection of twenty-four Christmas books that I bring out along with our decorations every year. Before December 1st I wrap and number each one to be opened every night before bed (although C is so eager this year it’s usually right after dinner). The books are a combination of old stories I’ve had since childhood, leftovers from my classroom library when I taught school, and used books we scored on Amazon for a few pennies. Not all of the stories are winners, and I’ve changed out a few duds for some new stories this year. But there are a couple that C is super excited to open, and some that I just love to read. Here are a few books that will stay in our Christmas collection for years to come:
M is for Manger by Crystal Bowman
This is an alphabet book that walks you through the whole Christmas story. It starts with “A is for Angel,” telling Mary she is going to have a baby, and proceeds all the way through the nativity story. Each page is just a couple sentences, and includes a Bible verse. Just perfect.
The Joy of Giving (A Berenstain Bears Christmas) by Jan and Mike Berenstain
A lesson on how much more important it is to give than to get, told in the classic Berenstain style. Brother and Sister Bear are much too concerned with buying themselves the things they want until a Christmas pageant reminds them of the best present ever given.
Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This is a beautifully illustrated story of the simple celebration Laura and her family enjoyed back when presents were few and time together was much more valued. Charlotte isn’t quite old enough for the full Little House books, but this picture book is a great introduction to one of my favorite childhood heroines. There are several others in this picture book series too if this one is a hit.
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
C loves all the books in the “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie” series, and this one, which features some favorite holiday activities, is no exception. It all starts at the movies, where the popcorn reminds Mouse of making a popcorn string for a Christmas tree, which leads to ornament crafting, and on and on. A cute story. There is a Christmas special on Amazon Prime Video right now called If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie that is pretty cute if you want to do a story/movie combo.
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
This beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Christmas story is destined to be a classic. It has a poetic, lyrical style (“This is the stable, the dusty stable, in the quiet town of Bethlehem”) that I really enjoy reading aloud. And the pictures are just so pretty.
Obviously most of these books aren’t appropriate for my one and a half year old, but I wanted Tessa to have some Christmas books to open too so I’ve included some board books in our advent. If you are just starting your Christmas book collection and still have a baby or young toddler these are some great options:
That’s Not My Angel by Fiona Watt
A Christmas Carol (A Baby Lit book) by Jennifer Adams
God Bless Our Christmas by Hannah Hall
Bonus: A book for you!
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon
I love a good, sentimental novel to read at Christmas time, and this one is my personal favorite. Stars Hollow has nothing on Mitford, the original small town that everyone wants to move to. If you haven’t read the Mitford books, which follows Father Tim’s surprisingly entertaining ministry to his community in rural North Carolina, this story is a great introduction and will make you want to read the whole series. If this doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will. 🙂
Your turn! What are some of your favorite stories to read to kids or yourself during the Advent season?