In past years, I’ve done a “literary Advent calendar” in December (see this year for an actual day-by-day calendar). I wrapped up a selection of Christmas-oriented books, and we opened one each night to read. This worked better when I had three kids in read-me-a-picture-book age ranges.
The three older kids have pretty much moved on from that. But there’s still some good reading going on. The 10-year-old has been working his way through the Ranger’s Apprentice series, and quite enjoying it. I welcome suggestions of other series I might get him hooked on. The 12-year-old has been reading the Harry Potter series to the 8-year-old! They are almost through book 2 at this point. Their goal is to finish the series before a potential trip to Universal’s Harry Potter World late this summer.
The 4-year-old and I are enjoying pulling out our favorite Christmas books for night-time reading. Here are a few we keep re-reading:
Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett. A naughty pack of trolls breaks into a far northern Scandinavian Christmas feast before getting their comeuppance at the hands of an “ice bear.” (Polar bear; the Norwegian word is in fact “isbjorn” or “ice bear.”) I suspect my 4-year-old identifies with the trolls, but hey.
How Santa Got His Job, by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by S. D. Schindler. A young Santa experiments to find his professional calling, working as a chimney sweep, a delivery man, a zoo keeper, and so forth, before finally finding the right fit. This is a fun book for kids, but also has a useful lesson for adults on gaining insight into your skills, even from jobs that don’t work out.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. We like Bear books in general, but the premise of this one — that Bear’s friends are trying to keep their buddy from hibernating over Christmas — is fun and festive.
The Crayons’ Christmas, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Olver Jeffers. Just published this year, this interactive book — which contains paper dolls and a board game, among other things — is fun to open the first time, and can then stand up to a second reading.
The Christmas Farm, by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root. Wilma and her 5-year-old neighbor, Parker, undertake to plant 62 dozen balsam seedlings. Over the next several years the trees (and Parker) grow, until they’re ready to be harvested. A good reminder of the labor (and loss to frost) that goes into growing living things.
Cranberry Christmas, by Wende Devlin and Harry Devlin. Mr. Whiskers is in a fix, with a sister who thinks he can’t live alone, and a cantankerous neighbor who keeps children from skating on the frozen pond. Then he and some neighbors bring small miracles to Cranberryport. I like this one for descriptions of winter life by the sea.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. A classic for a reason. The Grinch tries to steal Christmas from Who-ville by snatching the presents, only to discover that Christmas doesn’t come from a store.
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, by Richard Scarry. Mr. Frumble causes all sorts of trouble, inadvertently sending Santa off on the wrong night, before rescuing the situation.
Pick a Pine Tree, by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis. This is a new one to us this year, but we’ve read the sweet rhymes and oohed over the final Christmas tree more than once. Nice and gentle for lulling children to sleep.
The Elf on the Shelf, by Bell Chanda and Carol V. Aebersold, illustrated by Coe Steinwart. Yes, this tradition began for our family in 2013, when we welcomed our elf, Sassy. I am not a huge fan, but the kids love the concept, and hunt for him (or her?) each morning. G (nanny) got some video footage of the two younger kids purposefully saying their prayers in a place where Sassy could hear them. I’m just trying not to think too hard about the theology of all this.
What Christmas/holiday books have stood the test of time in your house?