I am pretty excited to have a two year old this Christmas. The past two years it has been really special to be a mom at Christmastime. But this year is the first year that Lincoln is old enough to really start enjoying the festivities.
I knew I wanted to do a special advent activity with him, but also wanted to make sure it was something meaningful and manageable for our family, and that fit his personality. I love that this Literary Advent activity allows me to appeal to his love for books while sharing a combination of faith-based and fun, fictional stories with him.
Every day leading up to Christmas, Lincoln gets to come downstairs after waking in the morning to find a wrapped book underneath the Christmas tree. I chose to start this tradition in the morning instead of at night because I want to have the option of following the reading with a related activity, and we tend to do more of those guided activities in the morning. For example, after reading The Gingerbread Man, we may bake or decorate gingerbread cookies, or do a gingerbread man-themed counting game. I know a lot of people who do this type of advent calendar like to wrap all 24 books and let their children choose, and I am a huge advocate of giving kids choices. That said, I chose to provide just one book a day this time around so I can plan ahead for those special activities associated with specific books.
Thankfully, we own a good variety of holiday books for children already. If you don’t have 24 winter/Christmas themed books on hand, here are some tips to help you reach your quota and fill your child’s holiday season with beautiful literature:
- Stock up after the holiday for the following year! Lots of places will put their holiday books on sale, and that is a great time to nab a few and put them away.
- Go to the library! Especially with younger kiddos, you can absolutely get away with checking a stack of books out from the library, wrapping them up for this activity, and returning them when you’re done.
- Be opened minded. You don’t have to have books JUST about Christmas. Include a variety of books ranging from winter weather, penguins, snowmen, Jesus and Santa.
- Partner with a neighbor. Together, pool your resources and each contribute 12 books. Rotate partway through the month. (This works especially well if you just put one book under the tree each day, rather than the alternative option of putting them all there at once and letting your child choose which one to read.)
Here is our reading list for the month (not necessarily in this order.) Why did I select these books? Honest to goodness? Because these are the books that I had on hand. I did make a couple of new purchases this year, but for the most part, these are books I already owned having purchased them for my classrooms in the past. (Example: I used to teach a Gingerbread Man unit to my first graders. As you’ll notice, I am repurposing those books for this cause!) As Lincoln grows and his literary preferences change, I’ll probably retire a few here and there and trade them out for new ones. This morning he was OVERJOYED to open his first book (Clifford’s First Christmas) which he has already read a handful of times before today. That didn’t stop him from excitedly ripping the paper off and asking to read it three times before even eating breakfast. Point being, it’s okay to read old favorites over and over and to utilize books your kids already own and have read!
- Pete the Cat Saves Christmas – James Dean
- The Gingerbread Man – Karen Schmidt
- The Gingerbread Cowboy – Janet Squires
- The Gingerbread Girl – Lisa Campbell Ernst
- Llama Llama Jingle Bells – Anna Dewdney
- Snow – Cynthia Rylant
- Snowmen at Christmas – Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner
- Little Blue Trucks Christmas – Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
- The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore
- The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck – Laura Murray
- The Itsy Bitsy Snowman – Jeffrey Burton
- The Littlest Elf – Brandi Dougherty
- Over and Under the Snow – Kate Messner
- Little Critter’s The Night Before Christmas – Mercer Mayer
- The Gingerbread Bear – Robert Dennis
- The Story of Christmas – Patricia Pingry
- Ten on the Sled – Kim Norman
- Clifford’s First Christmas – Normal Bridwell
- The Birth of Jesus – Katherine Sully
- Snowmen at Night – Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss
- Owl Moon – Jane Yolen
- The Itsy Bitsy Reindeer – Jeffrey Burton
- Christmas in the Manger – Nola Buck
What are your favorite (children’s) Christmas/holiday books? What books do your kids love to go back to over and over this time of year? I’m always excited to add to our collection and would love your advice!