our Advent Calendar and a list for getting started

I’ve wanted to do this for years but the kids were never old enough to appreciate it. But this year, I’m starting our collection.
I’ve heard of people doing a book Advent and it’s such a sweet way to count down to Christmas day (and have a special one to read Christmas night):
* Collect 25 Christmas-themed books
* Wrap and place them under the Christmas tree
* Starting Dec 1st the kids pick one of the books to unwrap each night
* Read that book together!
I picked a few obvious books, some a bit more random, and some that are really just snow-related. It’s a large chunk of change to buy 25 books at once. So we’ll be adding to our collection over time (ditching some of the so-so books and adjusting for the kids’ ages). It’s also a fun gift idea to ask family members to contribute to the collection (you know, when Grandparents ask what your family wants for Christmas).

And I’ll prob check out supplement books from the library so we get to 25. Maybe we’ll use library books first so I don’t have to worry about renewal dates and then slip in the ones that we own.
When I thumbed through our current books, we only had 4 Christmas titles.
So, I ordered most of them through Half.com (ebay’s site for buying used books, movies, and CDs).

Many of the books were as little as 75 cents a piece and were in pretty good condition. When buying from individual sellers, you pay $4 media mail per item. BUT if you buy many books from the same seller, the shipping goes down to about $1.70/book. To find these larger sellers, look for someone who has a ton of starred ratings and browse their shop for the titles you want.
Here’s a list of Christmas books we have and those we would like….

And I’d love your help!
If you have a favorite Christmas book I should add to the collection please leave it in the comments!
(I really need some Christ-centered and true-meaning-of-Christmas titles).

Books we have:
Shall I knit You a Hat?: A Christmas yarn by Kate Klise
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
I’ve Seen Santa! by David Bedford
Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steve Kroll
The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever by Steve Kroll
Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun
Corduroy’s Christmas by Don Freeman
Pip and Squeak by Ian Schoenherr
If you Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton

Books we’d like to get:
The Christmas Blizzard By Helen Ketteman
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell and jason Cockcroft
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thomspon
The Night Before Christmas by…(which version do you guys like??)
You are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love and Satomi Ichikawa
Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini

What else would you add?

If we don’t make it to 25 books, I’ll fill in the gaps with other holiday-related gifts…like this simple snow globe/music box (scored at Goodwill for $3) and a jazzy new Vintage Christmas CD that a friend sent me. I love finding cool new Christmas music–and I think my kids do too. Lucy often requests Christmas songs. And as much as I love some classic Harry Connick Jr. and Chris Isaak this is a really fun addition to the playlist.
While the kids played outside today, I grabbed the wrapping paper,
went to work,
and we’re (almost) ready for December 1st!

  1. 1) Kirsten

    Oh, how about just adding a cookbook with cookie recipes? Then you can bake cookies with the kids. Another one with craft ideas. They are books too! :-)

  2. 2) Kathleen Benavides

    Legend of the Three Trees
    The Candy Maker’s Gift
    Humphrey’s 1st Christmas

    GREAT IDEA BTW

  3. 3) Leaneta Eilers

    I have been buying a new hardback Christmas book every year since my oldest was born. She is now 17. We read them in the same order every year before Christmas. The newest book is always a surprise. Our favorites are the Texas Night before Christmas, The Littlest Angel, Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon, The Nutcracker and Auntie Claus. Even at 17, 15 & 14 my girls still love for me to read these books to them.

  4. 4) Cynthia Dooley

    The Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey

  5. 5) Char de Kehoe

    GREAT idea! As a former Kindergarten teacher and forever fan of children’s literature..here are some titles to add:
    Silent Night illustrated by Susan Jeffers
    The First Christmas Present by Marilyn Sommerer (very favorite real meaning book)
    This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten (a Scholastic book)
    Silent Night by Juliet Groom & Tim Warnes
    B is for Bethlehem – A Christmas Alphabet (rhyming) by Isabel Wilner
    Christmas Cookies by Amy Drouse Rosenthal – Bite-size Holiday Lessons-vocabulary-
    beautiful!
    The Light of Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall
    The Wild Christmas Reindeer written & illustrated by Jan Brett -she has several
    Christmas titles-The Mitten is also great – LOVE her illustrations!
    The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett – There are so many different
    illustrators for this book- it’s fun to compare!
    Angelina’s Christmas -story by Katharine Holabird
    The 12 Days of Christmas -a pop-up celebration by Robert Sabuda – a master at pop-
    up/fold-out/ illustrations in white
    Snowballs by Lois Ehlert – not really Christmas, but lots of fun for creative snowmen/
    ladies/pets/etc.
    The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

    Have fun collecting…sharing….enjoying with your children!

  6. 6) Katie H.

    We do the same thing, but I hide a book each night and leave clues for the kids to find them (4 and 22 months) in the morning. My 4 year old loves it! We love Jingle Bells as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani, The Night Before Christmas (recorded by the grandparents), No Two Alike, The First Days of Winter. I also include a couple Hannukah and Kwannza books. I’ve also wrapped library books when we don’t have enough of our own Christmas/Winter themed books. Such a great countdown – I think I enjoy it as much as the kids.

  7. I just love this idea! I’m a kindergarten teacher, and for some reason am drawing a blank on really good Christmas-y ones. Some of my favorite “winter” books are The Mitten and The Hat by Jan Brett. Her illustrations are just so beautiful. I can’t wait to start this idea when I have my own children!

  8. 8) Diane

    I just ran around my house collecting books! I love this idea and have been trying to come up with some sort of advent idea.

    Few suggestions as well:
    The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
    The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola (he has several Christmas themed books and I have always loved his illustrations)

  9. So I’m a little late commenting, but I highly recommend “The Night Before Christmas” illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. The illustrations are gorgeous, and it’s a fun read. Thanks for suggesting this advent calendar! I am totally making my husband do this with me even though we don’t have kids yet. :)

  10. 10) Kathy

    I’m planning to throw in a Christmas Nativity Puzzle I had gotten years ago for one night and some DVD’s for some nights too. I’m going to number the books/puzzle/movies so that we open up the longer books or dvd’s on nights we have more time. Some nights we will be busy and maybe only have time for a short book real quick.

  11. 11) Kelly

    A few of my kid’s favorites:
    “Great Joy” by Kate DiCamillo, “Christmas with the Mousekins” by Maggie Smith (includes recipes and crafts that the mousekins do in the book, which is fun), and “Shall I Knit you a Hat?” by Kate Klise

  12. 12) Kelly

    Another idea for growing your stash:
    We’ve started the tradition of allowing each child to open one gift on Christmas Eve BUT that one gift is always a Christmas book and jammies…we grow our collection by three books each year and I get pictures of the kids in cute jammies on Christmas morning- double win!

  13. 13) Coleen

    The Mitten is great for winter! And also Bear stays up for Christmas is a good one!

  14. 14) Lori

    We did this last year and loved it. Even though the kids knew each package contained a book, they couldn’t wait to open it and read together. One of the first books we gave them was Jingle all the Way…the Hallmark book sold with the Jingle dog. My kids LOVED reading that book and hearing the cute little dog respond. It was so motivating to my son who was in Kindergarted at the time that he worked his little heart out learning all the words in that book. Then his teacher let him bring the book and puppy and read it to the class.

  15. 15) Danielle

    Some great Christ-centered books:
    The crippled lamb and Jacob’s Gift (max Lucado)
    The Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey
    The candy maker’s gift (we’ve already read it four times this year!)
    The littlest angel

    Our library has lots of Christ- centered christmas picture books in the non-fiction religious section, so be sure to look there too

  16. 16) Saša

    I LOVED Charles M. Schulz’s ”A Charlie Brown Christmas”
    But now when I googled it the only thing I could find is the movie. I never saw that one, but I really did enjoy the comic!
    And since I write comments really seldom… Merry Christmas in advance :)
    Saša

  17. 17) Paula

    The Jolly Christmas Postman is gorgeous.

  18. this is a super idea. such a special way to count down and sooth the need to open stuff. you could even start with 12 or so (twelve days of christmas) if its too hard on the budget to buy 25.
    we are so gonna start this tradition.

  19. 19) Kristin

    Hi!

    I did this with my boys this year and it was a BIG hit!! They are 21 months and 3.5 years. Our older son still asks almost every day if he has another book-present to open! I ended up purchasing most of our books, but as you say it gets really expensive. I started in September with my son’s preschool Scholastic order. There are many $1 book options. All of ours were not winter-themed (boo!) but it worked out. I made a list of the days/books so I could cater to specific events. For example: “If you take a mouse to the movies” was given on a day that my son and I were going on a “date” to see Polar Express. We often opened the book of the day first thing in the morning so that we had all day to read it over and over. Tyranoclaus was one of my son’s favorites (like “twas the night before christmas” but with dinosaurs). I might continue the traditions with future holidays – with a mixture of books we already have and new books. For Valentine’s Day I’m thinking of doing a 7 day countdown and using books like “I Love Mommy” and “I Love Daddy” that we already own. Anything love related 😉 The 25 books ended up being our biggest gift to our boys for Christmas this year. We try to follow “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.” It was there something(s) to read 😉

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  21. 21) Karen in AZ

    One that’s great for even kindergarten (4/5 years old) on up would be: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – by Barbara Robinson Actually, you can get either the book or the DVD.

  22. 22) Jennifer

    My march to the manger, wonderful book for young ones.

  23. 23) Robina

    I have just found your website having bought ‘Stitch by Stitch’ to use with my mid 30s daughter who has decided (at last) that she would like to learn to sew!

    What a lovely idea to have Advent books, I am really looking forward to exploring more of your site.

  24. 24) Jessica

    Hi Dana,
    Your list of Christmas books is wonderful. There are a couple new ones we’ll try. You might also want to look at Closing the Book on Santa Claus by Ron Chandler. It is about a father who tries to save his daughter’s holiday celebration after it is cancelled at her school. He organizes a rally at city hall, but unexpected calamity prevails. Both of our children really enjoyed it.

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