We love our library.
We love Christmas.
So when I read this post about using books as a countdown to Christmas, I had an “aha!” moment. Why not combine our two loves and have a Library Christmas Book Advent?
Quick sidenote: I know that the term “advent” is often used a way to look forward to the Christmas festivities. I also know that the original meaning of “advent,” historically, is a deliberate and though-filled practice of preparing hearts and minds for the coming Christchild. In this post, I use “advent” as a way to build excitement for Christmas day, but I also understand the reverence that these weeks leading up to December 25th (and beyond) hold for many Christians. We embrace both – yes, and.
A quick internet search of ‘best children’s Christmas books’ gave me more than enough options (also, this website is a great resource for quality, classic Christmas book and toy ideas) so I hopped over to my library’s website to reserve as many as I could. I tried to choose only books that had no holds on them so they would be ready as soon as possible. Soon there were a handful waiting for us and I was giddy to break out the tape and scissors to wrap them up in the shiny new Christmas paper and stash them under the tree.
Our dining room table turned into a makeshift gift wrapping station as the kids splashed in their nightly shower. I wrapped as fast as I could. Never was I so happy that books have perfectly square corners!
The kids couldn’t believe it when they came downstairs – presents to open before Christmas?!?! It was like Christmas morning…but even better because it was going to happen every night until Christmas (and I loved it because it was free – libraries for the win!). We already have a rotation for who chooses the bedtime story, so it was Hunter’s turn to pick a book. He carefully selected the one he wanted and they raced up to bed to open it. It was I Spy Christmas and the kids loved looking through each page and trying to find all the hidden items. Each night since then (minus two nights when we ran out of books and had to choose from our own Christmas books stash), the kids have loved choosing a ‘present’ and opening it at bedtime. Plusalso, it makes the bedtime routine go by relatively smoothly as they are all looking forwards to what’s underneath that shimmering wrapping paper.
I could see this tradition being one that we revisit each holiday season. Here are some tips that have helped me choose good Christmas books for our advent countdown:
- Choose books with top-notch illustrations. Especially if you’ll be reading at night time, pictures that draw kids in and capture their imaginations are just what you want.
- Choose books that go easy on dialogue or text. Our kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old, and too many words mean too many wiggles, pinches, or elbow-jabs when trying to patiently wait to turn the page (what is it with turning the page? it’s like some crowning achievement that each kid grapples for on a nightly basis, as if it puts them one level above their siblings for a fleeting moment). Some of the best books do have a lot of text, so feel free to abbreviate or summarize.
- Choose books of different sizes. Strictly for aesthetic reasons, a pile of colorfully wrapped gifts under the tree just looks nice when they are all different shapes.
- Choose vintage titles when possible. There’s something about those 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s classics that evoke the perfect feelings of nostalgia. Isn’t that what Christmas time is all about?
- Choose books that tell the real Christmas story. Sure, snowmen and elves and gingerbread houses are great (and we love all those aspects of the holidays!) but these nightly books are a perfect opportunity to reconnect with the One Gift that changed all of humanity and history.
Here are some of the books that we’ve read so far, as well as some that are waiting at the library to be added to our pile:
Honestly, I might love this advent countdown as much as the kids do. Maybe next year I can make a bookish advent for me, too? I could live with pretty presents like these ones leading me night-by-night through the Christmas season. A girl can dream, right?