Isn't overwhelming when trying to decide which books are worth owning when it comes to Christmas and Advent? How do you know what will be suited to your children's ages, and how can you be sure to have a conglomerate of age-appropriate material? I have been searching for only the best for my kids, and because of the library, I'm keeping our collection down to a small, selected few. (Don't overdo it... because who wants to deal with taking care of that many books and things?!) I've tried to keep it from getting out of control in amount, and that collection is what I'm sharing with you here today.
This includes one "intro to Advent" and several books about the saints days that take place during the season of Advent.
The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman
This is our kids' introduction to the Advent season. It is like an Advent calendar within a book. Exquisite is really the only word that can describe this meticulously drawn companion to Advent. Like an Advent calendar, each page contains a door, which opens to another gorgeous, hand-painted illustration, with a Bible verse describing the scene. My daughter Molly loves this book and says, "I can't believe my eyes!" whenever we pull it out each Advent season.
a peek inside The Advent Book
The Legend of St. Nicholas by Demi
One of the beautiful things about celebrating Advent as a Catholic family is that we get to celebrate the Feast Days in full force. We own this book about St. Nicholas, and combining illustrations with writing, I think it is one of the best on the market right now.
St. Francis and the Nativity by Myrna A. Strasser
This is a sweet story that teaches children about St. Francis. I believe it is a fictional story about St. Francis organizing a nativity scene for children in his city in Italy. The illustrations are incredible and middle elementary students will enjoy reading this picture book aloud.
Lucia Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde
I absolutely adore this book, and I think it is one of the best out there. We set it out on the kitchen table on her Feast Day, and we have a special breakfast in commemoration. This book is such a wonderful way to introduce this saint to your children!
Books About Santa Claus
I love the legend and tradition of Santa Claus. I think it adds to the culture in our home around Christmastime. I love the wonder and the magic of hanging stockings and making cookies for Santa, and what this magic brings to children's hearts. Plus, I think the fact that Santa is inspired by St. Nicholas confirms that it is a wonderful tradition that should be passed down. ha.
Jolly Old St. Nicholas
This is a classic book and it is one worth owning. It has been passed down through the generations in the Beck family, and I value this one so much! The illustrations are just gorgeous. Fun fact/ bit of trivia about this book for you: the old copies have Santa holding a pipe. In the newer versions, (we have the newer one) the pipe has been edited out! LOL
Richard Scarry's Best Christmas Book Ever
I have always adored Richard Scarry, and this book is no exception. He has a quirky way of presenting everything from letters and numbers, to people and cities and even Christmas traditions in such a funny, thorough, and completely unique way. Highly recommended!
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
This is a must-have. The classic poem with so many famous and familiar lines should be part of your regular Christmas reading! I remember my own imagination being sparked as a child by many of the lines in this poem. Be picky about which version - there are so many well-illustrated copies out there (Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite!;) I found this copy on amazon, illustrated by Tasha Tudor (yep! highly recommended!).
Santa's Snow Cat by Sue Stainton
Imagine if a white cat rode along with Santa on his sleigh? This will capture the imagination of your Pre-Schooler or Kindergartener, and it has lovely illustrations.
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear by Jan Berenstain
After reading and checking these books out from the library for almost nine years, I actually think the superior Berenstain Bears Book "out there" is The Berenstain Bear's Old Fashioned Christmas. Someday I think we will add it to our collection. For now, Santa Bear is a fun read-aloud for young and old- something I love about the Berenstain Bears. (And I admit I read these as a child growing up, so there is some nostalgia with these books as well!)
Books That Will Become Favorites (Too Good Not to Share/Buy, Some of My Favorites:0)
This is my list of our favorite Christmas books that we own. I think that when you get to the point where you read it enough times, it should be bought! All of these fall into that category, in one way or another.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
I just love this book about a train ride to the North Pole. It gives me chills every single time I read it. I think the movie isn't half bad either. (It has made it into our yearly rotation of Christmas movies!)
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
This is an appealing story about a girl who provides the tree for her Church Christmas pageant, and dresses as an angel while her father is off at war.;) It is a sweet story, with adorable illustrations.
Frosty the Snowman by Walter Rollins
Babies love this sing-along picture book, and the older kids will join along. Toddlers can "read" it along with you as they sing. I think that alone is a good reason to own a copy of this one! I also *love* that Frosty has a "jolly, happy soul." Anders has latched onto that phrase even at 3 years old. He gets it!
Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden
I love this author, and the illustrations for this sweet story are phenomenal. This book is a bit longer for a picture book, but if you break it up into a couple of nights, it would be a good read aloud for Kindergarten and middle Elementary age students. I think it grows with the child, as there is always something new about the story or pictures that I notice, each time I read it.
The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet by Deborah Hautzig
You've got to have a good rendition of this book on the shelf. This version has a concise telling of the story within the ballet. A great introduction for young elementary-aged students.
Also try: the version by E.T.A. Hoffman, with Maurice Sendak's illustrations, pictured above.
Christmas Carols, illustrated by Noel Tennyson
I love having an illustrated book of Christmas Carols. When you feel like singing, pull out a picture book like this! It will establish good traditions and good memories in your home!
Books That Tell The True Story of Christmas
The Christmas Story
This book is selections straight from scripture, combined with gorgeous paintings depicting the stories, taken from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met to NY natives). I highly recommend adding this to your collection.
The True Story of Christmas by Nell Navilius
This book is great for younger children, as it has recaps of the Bible stories in short, concise sentences on every page. The hand-drawn illustrations are lovely to boot.
Christmas ABC Book
This might be a good choice for toddlers, or people just learning their letters. ;) I enjoy reading this to my little ones, because it concisely tells the true story and meaning of Christmas.
Lift the Flap Nativity by Allia Zobel Nolan
This book is perfect for babies - ask me how I know? Experience, the best teacher! ha. They are never too young to hear the true story and meaning behind all that we do at Christmastime!;)
The True Night Before Christmas by Timothy Penland
This is a fun book, as it is written by a grown-up, but illustrated by a child. Highly recommended for explaining the true story of Christmas with rhyming stanzas and cleverly, child-illustrated.
The Shepherd's Christmas Story by Dandi Daley Mackall
This story is better for middle-grade readers. It's a little longer and it will hold their attention without being too simplistic, short, or boring.
What Child is This?
This would be a good choice for babies or toddlers, and all of my kids enjoy listening to this read-aloud.
Tomie DePaola Christmas
Joy to the World: Christmas Stories and Songs by Tomie dePaola
Tomie dePaola has written over 200 picture books for children, so his Christmas books aren't the only thing he is famous for. However, his style, beautiful illustrations, and infusion of other cultures and Catholic traditions, I would assert makes him one of the best Children's authors of children's - and Christmas stories - living today.
This book is definitely one worth owning. Every time Stephen or I read one of his stories to our children, we debate back and forth over that being our favorite. Then we read another one again, and we think- no, that one is our favorite! They're all that good!
Pictured below, the contents of this book, a collection of stories and songs: (They all have a special place in my heart, but you've got to read The Night of Las Posadas- it will take your breath away).
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
As you can see, we have some overlap with our Christmas collection. This is a sweet story, so having an individual copy ensures we read it more often. There's nothing wrong with that;)
Jingle the Christmas Clown by Tomie dePaola
Not included in the collection, I think this one is my favorite. LOL. Really though, I love how he infuses a bit of magic (or, ahem, miracles) into each story. This is no exception. The thought of a child dressing up himself and his animals to portray a Christmas circus for the elderly in an almost-abandoned town in Italy is simple and so sweet.
Just For Fun
Sometimes the holidays call for a slice of pumpkin pie, and these books fall into the dessert variety of books. They may get the boot if we replace them all with Jan Brett classics, but for now, they're fun to have on the shelf. ;)
I Spy~ Merry Christmas by Jean Marzollo
These are good for bigger kids, waiting ever-so-patiently for Christmas to arrive. I mean I know my kids just sit for hours looking at these. Ok, maybe not on Christmas Eve, but, you never know. LOL
The Christmas Blizzard by Helen Ketteman
I think I got this at a used bookstore, and it is a cute little story of a blizzard that comes right on Christmas in Seattle (where our cousins live!)
Little Critter's Christmas Book by Mercer Mayer
You may have strong feelings about the Little Critter books, but this one is definitely cute and I'm glad we own it. I enjoy reading it to our kids. The family celebrates the season as fully as possible.
The Animals's Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum
This is a cute, simplistic story and it was given to our kids by grandparents. I'm sure it was inexpensive and it's a cute read-aloud for littles.
Christmas Fun For Kids~ Stories, Crafts, Songs, and More by Jane Jerrard
This is exactly what it says! The illustrations are decent, but the crafts and recipes are definitely worth buying a book like this.
Did you know they still make this? It is in its 72nd year!!!! Holy cow. My Mom always had these old magazines lying around at Christmas, and for older kids, these are so fun to flip through. I'm really not sure if you'd have to turn to eBay or an old used bookstore to find the vintage copies, but they're a lot of fun for generating that "Courier and Ives" feeling of a classic Christmas.
Can You See What I See~ Toyland Express by Walter Wick
This book is more than an I Spy book, as it also has riddles! ;)
Corduroy's Christmas Surprise by Don Freeman
Corduroy is a classic, and this Christmas rendition is a cute read aloud. It captivates the youngest children and would be an easy first-reader for Kindergarteners.
Merry Christmas- From Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
I was reluctant to get on the "Biscuit" bandwagon, but they are appealing to babies, I will give you that. I still remember thinking how silly I felt saying "Woof-Woof" on every page to Molly when she was just a baby, but I've read it to all of her younger siblings since, and all the babies love puppies and so they love this book! Although I admit, it kinda makes me think of Kevin in Home Alone... "Buzz... your girlfriend... Woof!"
If you're interested, just search the titles on Amazon. I'm not sure all of them are available there since some of these books came from Used Bookstores. But! I know I'm leaving off some good ones. What are your favorite read-alouds at this time of year? Let me know in the comments.
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