Countdown to Christmas: A Children's Book Advent Calendar | 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Have you started your advent countdown yet? I know some folks started yesterday and others wait until December 1. But no matter when you begin counting down I can already feel the air abuzz with a festive vibe, can't you? While I get no points for creativity in coming up with the book advent calendar idea, I feel the execution has been years in the making. Fifteen years to be exact. Which is precisely how long I've collected children's Christmas books. What started as a hobby when I worked at a bookstore in college is finally turning into a holiday tradition! One I'm sure Amelia will appreciate as she grows older. We'll probably vary the selection each year as we continue to expand our collection, and it's likely I won't be so ambitious as to wrap them every year, but I'm a sucker for traditions and I love the idea of reading something festive in the days leading up to Christmas. And what better place to display them than on our little hearth! Can you tell I'm excited about this?
If you're curious to know what we'll be reading throughout December here's the list of our (mostly) Christmas advent books with a brief description.
  1.  A Child’s Christmas in Wales -The magical illustrations in this edition pair perfectly with the beautiful prose describing the celebration of the season, complete with presents, aunts and uncles, the frozen sea, and the wonder of unexpected snow. 
  2.  One Wintry Night - An injured mountain boy finds refuge in a cabin, where the woman of the house weaves the beautiful tale of God's creation from the beginning down to a humble stable. 
  3.  Baboushka and the Three Kings - This Caldecott winner reads like an old folk tale about a Russian peasant woman who encounters the three kings on their journey and is invited to join them. The song at the end is especially charming. 
  4. Merry Christmas, Curious George - I don't normally like many character Christmas books, but I do enjoy how George, the ever mischievous monkey, manages to provide Christmas cheer to children at a local hospital. 
  5. Red Ranger Came Calling - This is probably my first and favorite book. A young boy journeys to visit the hermit, Lord Sander Clos, whom he doesn't believe in, and explodes in his request for a certain bike, which is delivered on Christmas Day in the most unusual fashion. 
  6.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This classic story hardly needs an introduction, but I must admit it often reminds me how good singing is for the soul. 
  7.  The Legend of the Poinsettia - A Mexican legend that tells how a little girl sought out a special gift for the Christ Child and how the poinsettia came about because of that. 
  8. Auntie Claus - Sophie wonders about her eccentric great-aunt who always seems to disappear on a "business trip" right around the holidays. This is a must-read for any imaginative child. 
  9. When Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem - This is probably the most religious of all these selections, but the stunning illustrations mingle well with scripture passages.
  10. A Christmas Dress for Ellen - The tale of Mary Jeppson and her young family on the eve of Christmas 1927 is a reminder of simpler times and unexpected miracles.  
  11.  Olivia helps with Christmas - Ever hilarious, Olivia is the most lovable "helpful" pig, who takes celebration to a whole new level. 
  12.  Nine Days to Christmas - I love Christmas books that celebrate the culture and traditions of other countries and this Caldecott winner, about young Ceci and her piñata, is a true celebration of love and light. 
  13.  The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree - A heartwarming story set during the war, little Ruthie and her mother must ensure that Pine Grove, their little town, has a tree for it's annual Christmas celebration. 
  14.  The Night Before Christmas - The award-winning illustrations and tall rectangular size make this a perfect read-aloud for those cozy December nights. 
  15.  A Christmas Alphabet - The vintage illustrations in this book remind me of a Victorian Christmas, which makes it an old-fashioned favorite. 
  16.  The Message of the Birds - Singing far and wide the birds, who have not been heard, decide to spread the message of Baby Jesus once again. 
  17.  Christmas Eve at the Mellops' - I just added this to our collection about a month ago because it's so charming! Four brothers all surprise the family with a Christmas tree and then work hard to find a better home for them—a generous undertaking that is harder than expected. 
  18.  The Polar Express - I go back and forth about liking this book. As a child I found it so wonderful, but some of the magic has faded as I've aged. Still it stays in our collection.
  19.  The Christmas Candle - Thomas stops by a candle shop on his way home to find light for his journey. Through the night the candle proves to have powers of a particular kind. 
  20.  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey - A downhearted woodcarver is touched by the simple request of a widow and her young son.
  21.  A Christmas Carol - We have two versions of this classic tale. This year we are sticking with the simple color primer board book edition. 
  22.  The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming - A latke on the run learns about other customs and traditions. A great way to introduce Hanukkah to children. 
  23.  P. Bear’s New Year’s Party - Although it's a little hard to come by I adore this simple three color illustration (black, red, and white) counting book. Perfect for ringing in the New Year!
  24. The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween - Set in Ireland this charming tale is about a young abandoned baby who grows into a woman that cares for the children and needs of others. The illustrations and sprinkling of regional language are perfect for children of all ages. 
Printable advent tags available here.

Ps. If you'd like more recommendations be sure to follow along on Instagram.


  1. Envying that gorgeous mantel (and perfect book display!) Wish I could convince my husband to do this with just us but I don't think I'll ever win that one. I'll just have to live vicariously. Thanks for a few new recommendations!


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