In years past I’ve tried various Christmas countdowns—Advent calendars and Jesse trees and the like—that just haven’t clicked for our family. The daily activity seemed like one more thing to get done instead of a meaningful way to prepare for Christmas.
But a few years ago we created an instant tradition: a literary Advent calendar.
We do books around here. Our whole family loves to do read. Stories are already built into our family’s rhythm. So each year, we wrap a gigantic pile of Christmas and winter-themed books (most of which we already own) and stack them by the fireplace. Beginning December 1, we’ll unwrap one every night, until Christmas Day.
It’s our family’s bookish way of counting down to Christmas.
In years past we rotated which child got to choose a book from the pile each night. This year I’ve labeled them 1 through 25, and we’ll take turns opening the books instead. I’m front-loading the month with Silas’s favorite board books and the long chapter books the older kids (9 and 11) will want to be reading all December.
(Hint: if you’re still building your collection, wrap some library books.)
Here are some of the books I wrapped this year.
• Richard Scarry’s the Night Before the Night Before Christmas! by Richard Scarry
• The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
• Christmas Around the World: A Pop-Up Book
• Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel (for the story “Christmas Eve”)
• Joy to the World: Tomie de Paola’s Christmas Stories
• The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett
• Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
• How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
• The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola (more Epiphany than Christmas, but oh well)
Chapter books for the older kids:
- Christmas with Anne by L. M. Montgomery
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Board books for the youngest kids:
We’re always on the lookout for new titles: I’d love to hear your favorite Christmas book recommendations.
What are your favorite Christmas books? (Or: how do YOU count down to Christmas?)