Reading these holiday classics aloud together with your kids is an enriching way to celebrate this special season.
Two missing books from our collection is like two missing bricks from a cathedral.” – Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, The Story Collector: A New York Public Library Book
I’ve been a book-lover for as long as I can remember. When I had children of my own, introducing them to good picture books was something I looked forward to doing, and through the years we have begun to build a beautiful cathedral of picture books in our own home.
Christmas books hold a special place in our collection, stemming from a “Picture-Book-a-Day” tradition that started when our children were toddlers. I would gift-wrap enough Christmas-themed picture books for each day of Advent and put them in a crate in the living room, and then we enjoyed unwrapping and reading one together each night before bed. At that time, most of the books I wrapped were library books that needed to be returned. As we have read more and discovered our favorites, I have slowly added to our home collection, a few books every year (often as gifts from St. Nicholas), and we currently own around 40 Christmas books, most of which are lovely hardcover versions that have been purchased used through Amazon or Thriftbooks (pro-tip: former library books are always a great find).
I no longer wrap our nightly books (even though the current toddler would probably appreciate this), but even my almost-teenager enjoys sitting down and listening to our stories most nights. As a parent, and an educator in a Catholic middle school, I can attest that no one is too old to appreciate a good picture book.
This year, my seven-year-old sat down with me and helped compile our nightly Advent book-list. We looked at various feasts and other family traditions during the season, and found books that would fit with both the liturgical and our personal calendars.
December 1: The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
December 2: Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
December 3: Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
December 4: B Is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner
December 5: Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer
December 6: The Baker’s Dozen: A St. Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard
December 7: The Spider’s Gift: A Ukrainian Christmas Story retold by Eric A. Kimmel
December 8: Mary by Brian Wildsmith
December 9: This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton
December 10: Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble
December 11: The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
December 12: The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
December 13: Hanna’s Christmas by Melissa Peterson
December 14: The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
December 15: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
December 16: Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
December 17: The Christmas Story by Jane Werner
December 18: Millie in the Snow by Alexander Steffensmeier
December 19: The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot
December 20: The Friendly Beasts A Christmas Carol Illustrated by Sharon McGinley
December 21: Who Was Born This Special Day by Eve Bunting and Leonid Gore
December 22: The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
December 23: Cock-a-Doodle Christmas by Will Hillenbrand
December 24: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Charles Santore
A few honorable mentions that have made our list other years:
Marta and the Manger Straw by Virginia Kroll
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson
Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black
The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaula
Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story by Fran Manushkin
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The Fourth Wiseman (based on the story by Henry van Dyke) by Susan Summers
Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas by Antonie Schneider
Why you should re-read books