We have never really done Advent Calendars the traditional way for Christmas. I think the most traditional way to do it is to each day open up a little flap / box / etc. that contains a piece of chocolate or candy. Well, I just didnt want my daughter to have a piece of chocolate / candy every single day for for the month of December! So, it has been a challenge finding advent calendars that work. In 2011, we did the Play Mobile advent calendar. This year, I decided to do Christmas books. It was an investment, that is for sure, but I think it was well worth it.. because now we have so many Christmas books to read year after year, and this is something that can be passed on to my grandchildren (a million years from now!) – I was very excited to do this.
So, what I did was take 24 books and wrapped them up in brown packaging paper. I used Christmas ribbon to decorate the books and made handmade tags. It took a lot of work, and something I am so proud of. I took a picture of all the books – but it was hard to get them all in the picture. So, what I decided to do was take a picture of Keri holding the book every single day – and there is the advent calendar 🙂
What books did I choose? Oh my, this was so hard! There are hundreds of Christmas books out there, and to limit it to just 24 was so rough. These were the books I chose (and why I chose them). Also linked to Amazon so you can see the reviews (or buy them yourselves!). I bought almost all of them off Amazon – just a few I had gotten elsewhere (eBay, book store, already had, etc.)
1. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston, Barbara Cooney – This story is about a family giving a Christmas tree to the townspeople. Papa was sent away to war, and Mama and the daughter were worried he wouldnt be home in time for Christmas. They decided to go get the Christmas tree and bring it to the townspeople themselves. The daughter was dressed up as an angel (nice touch to the story – signifying the angel at the top of a tree) – and Papa shows up on Christmas back from the war. It is a heartwarming story!
2. Santa’s Reindeer by Ron Green, et al – I loved this book because it goes page by page with every single one of Santa’s sleigh team. It describes the history of each reindeer, why they are on the sleigh team, what their attributes are, and is an excellent book to get to know the reindeer.
3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, Laura Cornell – This one is a classic, I had to have it in our collection, enough said!
4. The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman – I chose this book because it is a beautiful story about what Christmas is all about – the spirit of Christmas. It is a story about what the Christmas season means and everything that comes along with the season.
5. Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, Mark Buehner – This is just a fun book about what snowmen do at Christmas time! (I have a thing for snowmen, so had to have this book!)
6. Santa Claus – Rod Green, et al. – This book is written by the same author as Santa’s Reindeer and has the same concept – it is one of my favorite books! It describes in length all about Santa Claus. It gives his history, information about his workshop, how Christmas works, etc. It is an awesome book that gives a biography version of Santa Claus!
7. Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider – This one is such a great story about Christmas trees! It is about a Christmas tree that is perfect in the Queen’s eyes because it is slumped over, branches are missing, the leaves are disheveled, etc. – all because the tree was providing food for a reindeer, shelter for a bunny, and a branch for a bird. The Queen saw all of the Christmas tree’s imperfections and saw it wasnt imperfect at all.. but the little tree’s heart was indeed what made it the most perfect Christmas tree of all – very empowering story of what kindness will get you!
8. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, P.J. Lynch – I chose this book to go along with my daughter’s age level. It is meant for lower elementary kids (reading wise) and I thought the story was a nice one – a boy who is being mentored by an angry wood carver to learn how to carve himself, and in the end, the angry wood carver really is a good and true person – awesome story.
9. The Gift of the Christmas Cookies by Dandi Daley Mackall – This is a heartfelt story about how a family baked some cookies for the church service. There was one cookie left, but then a stranger appears at the door very hungry. The boy gives the cookie to him, without having a cookie at all.
10. The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans, Daniel Craig – This story is one that touched me – a little boy goes to the town for the lighting of the Christmas tree. Once the gate is closed, no one can get in. He goes to town and sees what appears to be a homeless man lying on the ground. Everyone else walks past – the boy stops and helps out the man. The story is one about hope, and the the lesson of helping out others – loved this story!
11. Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of his First Christmas by Hisako Aoki, Ivan Gantschev – Santa tells a bunch of animals about the very first Christmas – Christmas isnt just about gifts, it has a much deeper meaning.
12. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long – Having this book was vital! This book was given on December 12th, obviously. I chose this version because I loved the illustrations. They are so beautiful and really captured the twelve days of Christmas.
13. Merry Christmas Splat the Cat! by Rob Scotton – Keri loves Splatt the Cat books! Had to get this one, plus, we always have a big discussion at the end of what exactly is in the big box. What is in there??
14. God Gave us Christmas by Lisa T. Bergren, David Hohn – This is a story for young children, but the story is wonderful. It is about God creating everything in the world and how we should be thankful for everything – Christmas is a time where we should be thanking God for everything he has done.
15. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – Keri has seen this movie before, and I loved the lesson behind it – believe.. just believe. Had to get the book for her!
16. A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel – Keri loves cats! More importantly.. Keri loves the Bad Kitty books, she thinks they are funny. We had to add this one to the Christmas book collection – she loves the pictures, and the story!
17. A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe, Michael G. Monroe – This is a beautiful story about a pine tree in a forest that wishes to be a Christmas tree year after year, but the wish never comes true. Soon, the tree grows too big and becomes very sad. So, the forest turns the tree into the most magnificent Christmas Tree ever – a very nice story about how the animals of the forest come together to cheer up a friend.
18. Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne, et al – This is a story about how the Christmas stocking came about, which is why I bought it. I wanted a story to show the history of the Christmas stocking since it is an important tradition in our family, and this was perfect!
19. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry – This is an awesome story about one Christmas tree becoming many Christmas trees for many different families – one of my favorite stories out of her collection.
20. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean, Eric Litwin – Again, another cat Christmas book b/c my daughter loves cats! She actually saw this at Barnes & Nobles, loved it, and so I knew I had to get it for her.
21. The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers – Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutracker at the theater (or, have been since she was old enough!) – so I had to have this story to read right before we went to go to the theater. I chose this version because of the illustrations – they are really beautiful.
22. How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky – This is a cute story about all the jobs Santa had before he became Santa. Cute story!
23. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – We have a Christmas tradition that every year on Christmas Eve, we watch this cartoon on the TV. It has been a long family tradition, and one I cherish! So, I got this book for her so we could read it before we watched the show on Christmas Eve.
24. The Night Before Christmas by Clement E. Moore – I had to have this story to read on Christmas Eve, it is my favorite story of all and one that all children should have.. point blank! I chose this version because of the illustrations – they are so beautiful.
And.. that is it! It was a pretty awesome way to celebrate each day by opening up a new book and reading that book before bedtime. A tradition that we started this year and will continue every year – I look forward to the day when Keri is reading me all these books when she is older!