There are so many great children’s books that you can read with your children during this coming Advent season and so many treasured classics that never go out of style. I want this blog post to excite you with the possibility of sharing wonderful literature with your children this Christmas season and to give some suggestions on some classic books for Advent.
As you probably know, I’ve posted earlier in on my Facebook page about the fantastic idea of wrapping 25 books for Christmas and putting them under the tree on December 1st. That gives our family the perfect opportunity for allowing the kids to choose one book each night during the Advent season for us to read together as we cuddle near the tree sipping on warm cider and anticipating the birth of our Savior.
So get ready to make your own chosen list of books, hopefully finding some among the ones I’m sharing in this post, and create some wonderful 2015 Advent memories with your family. I’m including the following ideas for you.
- Ideas for easy books for toddlers and babies
- Ideas for preschool to elementary level books
- Ideas for books for older children
- Ideas for books for everyone
- Ideas about traditional Christmas classics
- Ideas for creative ways to share these books with your family
1. Ideas for easy books for toddlers and babies
Lift-the-Flap Nativity by Juliet David – Children can enjoy learning new things about the Christmas story in Lift the Flap Nativity, with flaps to open on every page and surprises to discover behind every door.
Merry Creature Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall – Little Star, Big Bear, the proud, white mare and all the bluebirds sing and join the forest creatures dancing everywhere. The pictures tell the sweet story of the forest animals having a Christmas party celebrating Jesus.
The Little Drummer Boy illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats – Keats drew lovely illustrations to go along with the old song. Another book you can sing!
Claude the Dog: A Christmas Story by Dick Gackenbach – Christmas would not be complete without this adorable story with its simple reminder of what really matters at Christmas (friends and family, not the gifts).
The Animal’s Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum – The sing-song words in this young toddler’s book are sure to catch your children’s attention, especially if they love animals.
2. Ideas for preschool to elementary level books
The Perfect Christmas Gift – Part of the God’s Little Princess Series by Sheila Walsh, which teach little girls great lessons about being a daughter of the Highest King. In this book, Gigi, as usual, knows EXACTLY what she wants … but finds that being a little surprised, like the Christmas shepherds, is OK too.
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones – Each page shows and tells about different aspects of our world—the wind, the trees, the animals, and the stars. The anticipation builds until at last Jesus is born.
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer – Humphrey is hilarious as he describes the injustice of his life as a camel. And then Humphrey finds himself on a journey … and that maybe things weren’t so bad after all.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado – Joshua the lamb can’t keep up with the other sheep and feels left out … but finds himself in a special stable.
Katy’s Christmas Gift by Bernadette Watts – Katy sets out in the snow to visit the new baby born in the innkeeper’s stable. She is bringing gifts: a loaf of bread, her cat Sasha and, most importantly, her favorite toy—a wooden bird whistle. But Sasha doesn’t want to play in the cold snow, and the animals of the forest eat the bread. Soon Katy’s carefully chosen gifts are gone—except the most special one of all.
A Calf for Christmas by Astrid Lindgren – It’s the last day of school before Christmas and snow is falling heavily. Johan heads to school on his sled, but he can’t stop thinking about the terrible thing that happened yesterday—his family’s only cow died, and they have no money to buy another. The rich farmer Peter Jonsson has come to town today for the Christmas market. He buys a calf then, after spending some time in the local pub, loses it on the sleigh ride home! When Johan heads out to clear snow, what does he find?… Maybe he’ll have a happy Christmas after all.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston – The Armistice has been declared, but still there is no sign of Ruthie’s father in their little Appalachian town. So, in accordance with the traditions of Pine Grove, it falls to Ruthie and her mother to bring home the perfect Christmas tree to donate to the town.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski – Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson – The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant. None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale—the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating—has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year’s pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.
The Crippled Lamb Hardcover by Max Lucado – In this timeless bestseller, readers experience the tender love God has for those who feel alone and different. Joshua was a lamb with a crippled leg who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play like the other lambs. But God had a very special plan for Joshua’s life, as He does for all who feel alone.
3. Ideas for books for older children
The Candle in the Window by Grace Johnson – This one is long, but it’s a beautiful story of a German cobbler who remembers the true meaning of Christmas as Christmas Eve passes.
The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin – Carol Bird, a Christmas-born child, who as a young girl is unusually loving and generous, having a positive effect on everyone with whom she comes into contact. The book is a wistful moral tale about a saintly child, but is enlivened by many humorous scenes.
The Story of the Other Wiseman by Henry Van Dyke – Often retold as the tale of the fourth wiseman, and even turned into a movie, this is an unabridged version by the original author, who also penned the words to the Christmas carol, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas – This special edition is beautifully illustrated. It can serve as a precious guide to help recapture the sacredness of the Advent season and to help the entire family understand and celebrate the epic pageantry of humankind from Adam to the Messiah.
The Old Shepherd’s Tale by Christopher Nye – An old shepherd shares the stable with his animals on the night Mary and Joseph arrive and give birth to the infant Jesus. The shepherd sees the greatness of these beasts—and shares that vision with us in this story that goes straight to the heart. For all ages.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry – In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store.
4. Books for everyone, all-ages
Christmas Spirit by George Grant and Gregory Wilbur
The Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
God Is in the Manger by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie
5. Ideas about traditional Christmas classics
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter – The Tailor of Gloucester was first published in 1903 and tells the story of a poor tailor trying to survive in his freezing workshop over a hard winter. He has a terribly important commission to complete for the Mayor of Gloucester’s wedding on Christmas Day but is ill and tired, and before long is running out of food and thread, as well as time! How will he possibly complete the beautiful coat and embroidered waistcoat? Luckily, there lives in the dresser, some very kind and very resourceful mice who set about helping the poor tailor with his work. Not only are they exceedingly helpful, but they are also, luckily, far far too clever for the tailor’s sly cat, Simpkin.
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long – This well known Christmas song deserves lavish illustrations, and this edition exceeds expectations.
Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman – The tale of Nutcracker has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share. Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Christmas production of Nutcrackerand created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann’s wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (picture book edition) (Chronicles of Narnia) – A picture book retelling of C. S. Lewis’s classic story for the youngest fans! Now younger children can share the magical experience, entering into a world of enchantment that will forever lure them back. Four adventurous siblings step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter—but never Christmas—cursed by the power of the White Witch. Only Aslan, the Great Lion, can reverse her wicked spell.
Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus by Francis P. Church – In 1897, a young girl wrote to The New York Sun asking whether Santa Claus truly existed. The paper’s response, written by reporter Francis P. Church, has become a beloved holiday literary tradition. An original approach to a children’s classic, this captivating book creatively reinterprets that heartwarming letter about the truth behind Santa Claus and Christmas. It is accompanied by charming Victorian artwork. Joel Spector is an artist and illustrator known for his elegant pastel images.
6. Ideas for creative ways to share these books with your family
There are many ways to extend your family time with these books beyond the simple reading of the book. Try some of these ideas with your family:
- Advent is the time before Christmas when we anticipate the birth of Jesus. It begins the Christian year. Learn more about the Christian year, and why or why not people follow it. (Helpful Info)
- Compare the stories in different retellings of the the Christmas story with the biblical versions of Christ’s birth. (For more help)
- Learn about Christmas celebrations around the world. Find out how people from other countries have brought their celebrations to their new homes in North America. (Need a suggestion?)
- Try serving different snack and holiday foods from other cultures during your family advent time. (For more help)
- Add a time of making Christmas crafts to your family advent time. Then take some crafts and your favorite books to a local nursing home or hospital to read the book and share the crafts with people who may be lonely or sad at this special time of year. (For more ideas)
Don’t miss the wonderful opportunity of sharing the advent season of 2015 by making family advent memories that your children will remember for the rest of their lives! This blog will get you started—but don’t stop here; go and make your own lasting advent memories.