Oh it is magical around here, folks. Christmas time is upon us, the calendar is flipped to December, the lights are twinkling, and there is pine and gingerbread wafting through the air. All of the Christmas is happening in our house. We spent the weekend pretending we were snowed in, and actually in Texas terms we were because it was a bitter 45 degrees and it was PRECIPITATING! Stock up on milk, lock those doors, and get under a blanket, we are NOT going outside. And being “stuck inside” is the perfect excuse to deck all of the halls and usher in the season of Advent.
I have so many words for Christmas and my love of this magical season. But sometimes it is best to turn to the words of others by getting lost in a book. It is no secret that I love books. I believe they are a driving force behind learning and imagination for a child, and for the child at heart. So naturally, at Christmas time, reading books is exactly the tradition we need. Learning about giving and love and kindness and magic and miracles all through the pages of a book. I cannot think of a better way to slow down during this busy time – on the couch, by the tree, snuggled under a blanket, and reading about Christmas.
Last year we started an advent tradition that I plan on maintaining for as long as my little ones will tolerate it. For each day of Advent leading up to Christmas we opened up a new book to read. An Advent Book Calendar. Chocolate is tasty and treats are fun, but more sweets and junk is not necessary around here. A book,however, now that is never in too much abundance around here. Each day, as we draw closer to Christmas, we watch the pile under the tree grow smaller and the stories on the book shelf grow larger.
But gathering 24 books (or more, we started on the night before the first Sunday of Advent so that means three extra books this year!) seemed a daunting, and expensive, task. I am sure eventually our collection of favorite Christmas books will grow and we will have too many to pick from. For now, though, the one place that always offers an abundance of FREE books is the library. And I have learned that if you want the best Christmas books, you have to start collecting (hoarding) in early November (and fingers crossed you can keep renewing them!) The other great thing about pulling books from the library is we get the chance to try out new books each year. Some of our favorites from last year are back in the rotation as well as new finds. And those that are the most loved become purchased to read year after year. Building this Christmas Book Library is becoming one of my favorite traditions.
Now, because I was feeling especially caught up in the Christmas Spirit, I also decided it would be fun to add an activity to go along with each book. Sometimes this means a craft, sometimes it means an outing or experience. I wrote the name of each book on the back so as the month goes along if I think a particular book would be better for a certain activity we have planned, I can switch the tags around for that day (washi tape for the win!) I believe there is someone in this house who has his doubts as to how long I can keep this up. So far I am three for three, so I’ll let you decide who to bet against. And later in the month I’ll share some of our favorite activities.
Below is our book list this year in case you wanted to read along with us, add a few more books to your collection, insert into gift lists, or raid your local library. And remember, traditions can begin at any time. If you don’t have 24 books, start later in the month. Just like diets and TV series, it’s never too late to start.
Happy Season of cozy snuggling on the couch by the tree and reading!
Advent Book Calendar 2015
Giving Manger by Allison Hottinger – More on this in a later post to come. A great way to encourage giving during this season.
The Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett – The Gingerbread baby gets lonely during the day and needs some friends.
The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman – One of our favorite authors and illustrators shares the best part about Christmas, spending time with those we love.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs – I adored this book and movie as a child. With no words, only amazing illustrations, you follow the story of a little boy and the night his snowman came to life.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – This book likely needs no introduction. A boy travels to the North Pole by train one night and is given a magical gift.
Christmas in the City by Loretta Krupinski – Two country mice experience a big city Christmas when their home becomes the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
Just Right For Christmas by Birdie Black – Little animals learn the joy of giving and finding the right gift for someone you love.
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones – “It’s Time! It’s Time!” All of the animals of the earth, from the Whales to the Sand pipers were rejoicing when the King was born. This book brings me to tears.
Christmas Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – Through the act of baking Christmas cookies, this book teaches wise lessons as well as wonderful new vocabulary words.
Dream Snow by Eric Carle – An old farmer dreams of snow for Christmas to cover his animals and magically his dream comes true. The magic of this book is in the end when he prepares for Christmas.
Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray – The story of two unusual friends who come together to start a Christmas tree farm. A lesson in growing and working together.
Star Bright by Alison McGhee – A little angel tries to find the most perfect gift for baby Jesus, on that is worthy of his holiness. A lesson that even the smallest of us can be a shining star.
The Nutcracker by Alison Jay – A beautifully illustrated version of a favorite Christmas story, only second to seeing the real performance. See the Nutcracker through the glass of a snow globe.
The Christmas Visitors by Karel Hayes – The city dwellers decide to spend a simple Christmas in their summer cottage. But it is the bears who surprise them decorating for Christmas.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – Another book that needs no introduction. I am hoping Dr. Seuss can make an impression on how to encourage the true holiday spirit.
Who would like a Christmas Tree by Ellen Bryan Obed– This tells the story of the Christmas tree and who uses it every month of the year. Bringing the importance of nature into the Christmas story.
Angelinas Christmas by Katharine Holabird – It is fun to bring in familiar characters at Christmas time, and Angelina is one of our favorites.
If you Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff – The same lovable mouse with so many ideas is back for a little Christmas version. This just gives us an excuse to watch a movie and eat popcorn.
Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall – This tells the Christmas story of Jesus through the sounds that Holy Night, that was actually “not such a silent night.”
The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola – The Nativity story told through the eyes of all the colorful birds that were there that night.
The Christmas ABC by Florence Johnson – A Little Golden Book that takes you through the alphabet at Christmas time. Letter recognition is big in this house now so this should be a fun one.
The Innkeeper’s Daughter by Carol Greene – A little girl who is not very nice learns about forgiveness and love when she meets the new baby Jesus and learns why he is special.
The Hedgehog Christmas Tree by Kathryn Jackson – Most of the smell is starting to go away, but this classic scratch and sniff book shares the wonderful scents of the season.
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor – What could be more fancy than Fancy Nancy at Christmas? Teaches what happens when things don’t turn out quite as planned.
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear by Stan and Jan Berenstain – Another book with favorite characters, this time the bears learn a bit about Santa.
And Now We Call him Santa Claus by Kay Tutt – An online story I printed off to tell about who Saint Nicholas actually was without spoiling the magic of Santa.
What are you reading? What books should we include next year?