2017 Literary Advent Calendar picks

I took a few minutes yesterday to organize the Christmas stories. Here's what we'll be opening in December, one a night. I didn't wind up purchasing any new books this year, because three years into our literary Advent calendar tradition, I've found we have enough holiday stories in the house to chuck the real duds. I also realized last year that we had run out of steam by a few days before Christmas, and the kids like to re-read some of their favorites from earlier in the month. So this just takes us through the solstice.

However, I'd welcome ideas for next year, or maybe to add for the last few days of December. And in the comments, please share: what are your favorite holiday children's stories?

December 1: The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell, illustrated by Coe Steinwart

December 2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

December 3: Richard Scarry's The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, by Richard Scarry

December 4: Christmas Farm, by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root

December 5: The Polar Express, by Chris van Allsburg

December 6: Snowmen at Christmas, by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner

December 7: Joy to the World: Christmas Stories and Songs, by Tomie dePaola

December 8: Bear Stays Up For Christmas, by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

December 9: The Wild Christmas Reindeer, by Jan Brett

December 10: Home for Christmas, by Jan Brett

December 11: Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett

December 12: Cranberry Christmas, by Wende and Harry Devlin

December 13: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (picture book version), by Barbara Robinson, illustrated by Laura Cornell

December 14: How Santa Got His Job, by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by S. D. Schindler

December 15: Night Tree, by Eve Bunting

December 16: Santa's Stuck, by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Henry Cole

December 17: The Christmas Wish, by Lori Evert, photographs by Per Breiehagen

December 18: A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams

December 19: How to Catch Santa, by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish

December 20: I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles, photographs by Walter Wick, riddles by Jean Marcello

December 21: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, by Gloria Houston, pictures by Barbara Cooney

View Comments

  • Thanks for the reminder! We've done this the past couple of years and it was really fun. We don't wrap the books, just have them all in a bag and the kids reach in to pick one each night.

  • What a great idea! I am about to cull our picture books, so even if I don't manage to pull this off this year, I will try to put books aside for next year. My kids love The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup. It's pretty cute, and it doesn't make me crazy like the weird military-themed ones people have given us over the years. Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Tanya Simon and Richard Simon is excellent, too, especially if you're exploring non-Christian faiths' and cultures' winter celebrations and traditions.

  • I loved this idea when you posted about it last year and this year I made the following list of winter- or Christmas-themed books for our Advent countdown. Some might be a little long for our kids but we're going to give it a shot... 1. Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House Picture Book), inspired by the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder 2. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats 3. Olivia Helps with Christmas, by Ian Falconer 4. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen 5. Jolly Christmas Postman, by Allan Ahlberg 6. Winter Poems, selected by Barbara Rogasky (we'll just read a few) 7. Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner 8. The Mitten, by Jan Brett 9. Madeline's Christmas, by Ludwig Bemelmans 10. The Most Perfect Snowman, by Chris Britt 11. Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg 12. Llama Llama Holiday Drama, Anna Dewdney 13. Bear Stays Up for Christmas, Karma Wilson 14. Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett 15. King Island Christmas, by Jean Rogers and Rie Munoz 16. A Night of Great Joy, by Mary Engelbreit 17. The Huron Carol, by Fr. Jean de Brebeuf, illustrated by Ian Wallace 18. The 12 Days of Christmas, by Greg Pizzoli (there are many versions of this, but I really like Pizzoli's illustrations) 19. The Little Reindeer, by Nicola Killen 20. Walk This World at Christmas, by Debbie Powell 21. The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Mary Englebreit (obviously there are many versions of this, but I really like this illustrator)

    • @Robin - great list! I love The Snowy Day (not just at Christmas - could be any winter time!) and I may check out the Olivia one, because we have a little Olivia fan around here.

  • I loved “Christmas in the Manger” which is a board book about the Nativity story. We also have some anthologies that include carol lyrics that are really nice.

  • Two that we read every year (even though they are very different from each other!): "Little Drummer Boy" by Ezra Jack Keats and "Junie B. Jones, Jingle Bells, Batman Smells..." by Barbara Park.

  • I was seriously dragging my feet about finishing the wrapping for these today and my mom offered to help, which made it much faster :) I also found I had more than expected though I know which one I will cull before next year - I have already wrapped it so won't worry about it now. I generally buy 4 new books each year so the ones on the 1st, 18th, 24th and 25th are new. (My daughter's birthday dates, plus Xmas Eve and Day). I tend to buy two winter or holiday ones and two regular good picture books for the other as I don't really want a HUGE library of holiday books. Our favorites: Olive the Other Reindeer, Lemonade in Winter, Jack Frost, All the World (not holiday but I love the illustrations SO much). New this year: This is Not my Hat, Goodbye Autumn Hello Winter, Snow, and I can't remember the 4th ;) WRT family traditions, since the book on the 1st is a new one, we do "December pajamas" and I plan to give them out on 11/30. This and the Book Advent are a nice way to spread out the holiday gifts a little more too, so Christmas Day isn't as overwhelming and things can be appreciated a bit more :D

  • OH! And the best one of the bunch is a book my mom brought with her to Thanksgiving - it was mine as a child called "The Joys of Christmas", about how different countries celebrate Christmas. I thought it was gone forever but she found it! And I couldn't remember the title to find it on Amazon though I've looked every year since I had a kid :) So that was hugely exciting. (for me, anyway...)

  • I have two new advent book suggestions reviewed on my blog post today: "Look: A Child's Guide to Advent and Christmas" by Laura Alary and "That Baby in the Manger" by Anne Neuberger. Both are reviewed here: http://beingincommunity.com/my-favorite-things-2017-edition-gift-recommendations-with-seven-giveaways/

  • Mortimer's Christmas Manger --another by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. Santa Mouse by Michael Brown