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Christmas Book Advent Calendar (Updated)

christmas book advent calendar

I wrote my first post for Babyccino on 29th November 2009 (I can’t believe it – almost 6 years ago!) and it was about an idea that I had to wrap up 24 Christmas themed books to create a Christmas Book Advent Calendar. Well the idea is still going strong in our house and as I get the books out this year and dust them off ready for wrapping – I thought I’d do a little updated post on it.

We do a couple of different advent calendar ideas in our house but the book idea is still my favourite and has become a tradition that the children (and I) really look forward to. Unwrapping a Christmas story every evening before going to bed has such a cosiness about it – perfect for the time of year, when evenings are dark and cold. Reading the story – whether just fun or poignant – gives me the opportunity to slow down, even if just for a few minutes and snuggle up with my kids to soak in the magical atmosphere of Advent. I treasure those moments and I’m sure my children do to.

I thought I’d share with you some pictures from the past years – they are all pretty bad quality I’m afraid, as we always read at night-time and I very rarely have my proper camera to hand, so they are just grainy phone-snaps but looking at them I can’t wait to wrap the books up again.

christmas book advent calendar tradition

Mo's kids at christmas

best Christmas books

Over the years, as the kids get older, we’ve added to the Christmas book collection so now I get to choose from a bigger pile – I thought to share our list with you – even if 24 advent books is a bit extreme, you may enjoy one or two of these stories over the festive period:

  • Bear Stays Up for Christmas (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman). If you know the book “Bear Snores On” then you will recognize the characters in this book. I’ve always thought that maybe those clever advertising people who came up with that lovely John Lewis ad (with the bear and hare) may have read this book at some point ….
  • The Fir Tree (Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka). This is a longer story – so needs a while to read it (maybe could be done over 2 nights?) – I always wrap it as one of the earlier days so we have more time to finish it the day after if necessary. It is a lovely classic fairy-tale, which is exquisitely illustrated (an heirloom book).
  • Snow (Roy McKie & P.D. Eastman). This appears to be out of print so currently very expensive on Amazon marketplace (but prices always change). It is not a Christmas story specifically but snow and sledging always feels seasonal. This is a good book if you have a child who is just learning to read as it is a first reader book so a good one for some subtle practise!
  • Petunia’s Christmas (Roger Duvoisin). I’m sorry another out of print one (but much cheaper at the moment on Amazon!) – I collect Duvoisin books as I love his illustrations and story-telling and this is a wonderful story of the silly little goose that we already know.
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Clement C. Moore). We have 3 versions of this book – my favourite is my version I had as a child, which stays at my parent’s house and is out of print unfortunately. The version I usually wrap up is illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith. I like this book to be really old fashioned and her illustrations are just perfect in my minds eye. However we do often give a small hardback version by paper-cut artist Niroot Puttapipat, which is also very special. Of course it is entirely up to you but this one is always our book to open on the 24th!!!
  • Mog’s Christmas (Judith Kerr). Quite a few of our ‘favourite’ characters pop up in our advent books and Mog is no exception – I particularly like her grumpy attitude to it all – we all know someone who is a pretty grumpy about Christmas don’t we?!
  • A Christmas Story (Brian Wildsmith). You may remember that Brian Wildsmith’s Easter Story crept up in my Easter book recommendations http://babyccinokids.com/blog/2015/03/31/6-easter-book-suggestions/. The story of Jesus’s birth is also told through the eyes of a donkey, which reminds us of the humility of Jesus being born in a stable with animals and simple people present but he uses bright colour and gold print to remind us just how special the story is.
  • Letters from Father Christmas (J. R. R. Tolkien). I have a different version of this book, which I couldn’t find on Amazon – with pull-out letters, it is quite special but actually quite fiddly to read so I’m sure this one is a bit more practical. Not only are these letters (that Tolkien wrote to his own children in the guise of Father Christmas) super magical they show what a truly awesome dad he must have been. So imaginative, so funny and inspiring in creating this fictional dialogue that I’m sure his children found quite magical.
  • Little Rabbit’s Christmas (Harry Horse). One for the little ones (having said that I think my 8-year-old still quite enjoys these stories). A story which shows the ‘other’ side of Christmas – the meltdowns, spoiled behaviour, selfishness that we have certainly seen in our own children when the excitement of Christmas finally reaches a peak and explodes. But of course … with lessons learned and happy endings!
  • Lyle at Christmas (Bernard Waber). Out of print and available super cheap at the time of going to print. We love all the Lyle stories – surreal and gentle as they are. If you don’t know them I’m sure you’d love them. In this one Lyle and his family look to help Mr. Grumps, who is suffering from the holiday ‘blahs’.
  • My Wonderful Christmas Tree (Dahlov Ipcar). I wrote about another Dahlov Ipcar book, I Love Animals, earlier in the year. I really love her illustrations and this Christmassy book is no exception. This is a counting book with different animals hiding in a Christmas tree and there are some quite unusual ones in there!
  • I Spy Christmas (Walter Wick & Jean Marzollo). Another chance for a second hand bargain here (hardcover was £2.81 (inc. postage) when going to print. These books do feel a little dated – they remind me of when I was a kid – the objects and styling is a bit ’80s but I like a hint of nostalgia and, more importantly they are fun – I have written about many ‘looking’ books and I think particularly young children love to solve the riddles and find the objects in the Christmassy photos.
  • The Empty Stocking (Richard Curtis & Rebecca Cobb). This book really answers the question – “what if I haven’t been good this year?” Uh oh!
  • The Little Fir Tree (Margaret Wise Brown & Jim Lamarche). The story of a father who makes his little boy’s Christmas special with the help of a little Fir Tree – a very sweet story about Christmas traditions and making sure we remember the vulnerable, the forgotten and the disadvantaged at Christmas time.
  • Paddington and the Christmas Surprise (Michael Bond & R.W. Alley). We love Paddington (books not movie, sorry!) and this one is always in our Advent line-up. Of course Paddington gets into a tricky situation but ends up saving the day and Marmalade is featured!
  • One Thousand Christmas Beards (Roger Duvoisin). Another out-of-print, another Roger Duvoisin. As usual he takes a different angle on Christmas – in the story Santa is angry with all the Santa impersonators that he sees during the festive season – it’s a great story to help you answer the inevitable questions that arise when you see Santa in every Shopping Mall!
  • The Little Reindeer (Michael Foreman). I really like this story – a relatively new addition to our collection. The story of a reindeer that gets lost from Santa’s crew and the boy that befriends him – quite magical.
  • The Christmas Wish (Lori Evert & Per Breiehagen). I love everything about this book. The photography, the story, the fashion (I’d love to dress my little girl like Anja in this story!!!)
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Susan Wojciechowski & P.J. Lynch). An old-fashioned story of love …
  • Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (Robert Barry). Ha! Ha! Last Christmas our tree didn’t quite fit into our living room and my husband had to cut about 30cm from the top and my eldest boy said – “Oh it’s just like Mr Willowby’s tree”, and that’s how the story starts …
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas (Jane Ray). Courtney bought this book for us a couple of Christmas’s ago and it is a really lovely version … I save it until quite near Christmas so we can all read it, then sing it together!
  • Madeline’s Christmas (Ludwig Bemelmans). I do love Madeline books, although often a little bit ‘odd’ – this one manages to weave (excuse the pun) a magic-carpet seller into a Christmassy story.
  • A Calf for Christmas (Astrid Lindgren & Marit Tornqvist). We have two Lindgren books in our German Advent collection but this is the only English one we have. It is a story that works for older children as well as the littles. A classic fable and beautifully illustrated so you get a cosy impression of Sweden at Christmas time.
  • Christmas Poems (Chosen by Gaby Morgan and illustrated by Axel Scheffler). If this one gets wrapped it is often in the first days of Christmas – as it can’t be all read in one night but it is nice to dip into through the Christmas days – we sometimes leave this one out in a Book basket that we keep beside the advent calendar for all the opened books so the kids can look through them during the days.
  • Father Christmas & The Donkey (Elizabeth Clark & Jan Ormerod). Another great bargain at the moment! And another story of a donkey!!! This donkey works so hard to help Father Christmas and Father Christmas rewards him with the best present he could wish for.
  • Christmas Day in the Morning (Pearl s. Buck & Mark Buehner). Warning – tear-jerker! I even noticed a tear in my husband’s eye last year. I always save this one for the last days of the calendar!
  • The Christmas Angels (Elsa Wenz-Vietor). We have this one in German (see German suggestions) – it is so gorgeously illustrated – this is how Christmas angels should look!
  • Christmas in the Noisy Village (Astrid Lindgren & Ilon Wikland). In German, the Noisy Village is called Bullerbue and we love the stories throughout the year from them. (There is a great TV series as well in German – which if you are German you will surely know already!!!). It is such a charming story of 3 families that make up a village in Sweden and the 7 children that occupy it with their stories of idyllic countryside playing and mischief-making.

I hope that this long-list has maybe given you some ideas for Christmas stories for this year!

Also, here are some of our Advent books in German for my husband to read, I thought I’d share our favourites for any German Speaking readers:

  • Weihnachten im Stall (Astrid Lindgren & Lars Klinting)
  • Wie Weihnachtelt Man? (Lorenz Pauli & Kathrin Schaerer)
  • Weihnachten Nach Mass (Birdie Black & Rosalind Beardshaw)
  • Die Leihgabe (Wolfdietrich Schnurre & Klaus Ensikat)
  • Weihnachtern in Bullerbue (Astrid Lindgren & Ilon Wikland)
  • Anton & das Weihnachtsgeschenk (Ole Koennecke)
  • Die Weihnachtsengelein (Elsa Wenz-Vietor)

Mo x


Comments (17)

November 19, 2015

Advent books are one of our most beloved traditions. We have a mix of winter books which come out earlier and Solstice and Christmas ones which come out later:

November 19, 2015

Such a lovely tradition. We will be starting this year with our 2 year old twins. My favourite growing up was Raymond Griggs’ slightly grumpy Father Christmas.

November 19, 2015

Oh I’m glad you are starting this with your 2 year old Katy – you won’t regret it!!!
And we LOVE Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs!! We watch the film every year!!! “Another Blooming’ Christmas!”

Courtney in London
November 19, 2015

I love this tradition of yours!! And all you book recommendations. (I remember going through your collection last year and discovering all the Astrid Lindgren books. So sweet!)
We’re so sad to miss your annual Advent party this year! Your house is always so cosy – smells of Christmas and gets me so excited for the season. Sending big hugs from Uruguay! xx

November 19, 2015

I can’t believe you won’t be there!! It won’t feel the same. I always love how after all the madness, everyone goes and we get a little bit of calm time to chat with you guys! (maybe I can send Stollen to Uruguay?!)

Rosie Hughes
November 19, 2015

Mo, I Love your book recommendations – Thank you for sharing. You are such a fun, inspiring Mummy! I would love to see more posts from you on Babbycchino! xx

November 19, 2015

Thank you Rosie! What a sweet comment. I will be writing more soon. x

November 19, 2015

This is brilliant! I am definitely going to do this; so much more fun than just bringing out a large pile all at once.

November 19, 2015

I love this idea – will do it this year and some good recommendations for some new books thank you! We love the jolly Christmas postman by the alhbergs and – even though it’s not an actual christmas book – mama do you love me by Barbara Joose set in the Arctic – a lovely message that reiterates mamas always love their kids even when they test boundaries!

November 19, 2015

Thanks for sharing this. Advent calendars have been a big part in my childhood and now I have a son I would like him to experience the same magic I feel about December & Christmas. Being German I also loved to see your German book titles – so nice to be remembered of the wonderful stories from Bullerbü, will have to get those … Thanks for a wonderful post x

November 20, 2015

Hi Alice – well being the English gal in a Deutsche/ englisch family I can understand why Advent was special to you – I’ve so enjoyed learning about and incorporating German traditions into our family. I love German plaetzchen – I will share some of my favourite recipes soon! Froeliche Adventzeit!

Vanessa in Scotland
November 20, 2015

I remember your post on the advent calendar and have done it every year ever since. I think it’s a wonderful idea and I’m so happy to see your list. There are a few new ones I must add this year, although mu husband thinks we already have enough! But I don’t think you can never have enough Christmas books!! xx

November 20, 2015

Hi Vanessa – so glad you enjoy doing this too! If you have any that are not on the list please let me know – I always add 1 or 2 books every year – well the kids get older!!!!

Susan M.
November 21, 2015

Thank you. I love all the good suggestions.

November 23, 2015

A great idea! I still remember my primary school teachers reading us a chapter a day of a German Christmas book (“Schnüpperle”). It was something I looked forward to every day (that was in the days when lit candles in a classroom wouldn’t lead to the evacuation of the school…).

I miss “Auntie Claus” on your list, one of our firm favourites! And “Santa Claus – The world’s number one toy expert”. Jane Ray has just published a beautifully illustrated version of “The Nutcracker”. Maybe you want to check those out.

November 27, 2015

I love this lovely tradition and I each time that I find a new x-mas book for my kids I keep it secret until the advent.. but also I am so happy to be able to read my two favourites book from my childhood: Mauri Kunnas’ Santa Claus (that has survived from the 80’s) and this one, that we’d lost but I could find it again on a kind of french ebay (or this one in german on ebay): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Felicitas-Kuhn-Gisela-Fischer-10-KLEINE-WEIHNACHTSENGELEIN-NEGERLEIN-1990-/371477650646?hash=item567dcb1cd6:g:Y~EAAOSwiwVWREV0
You’d love it.

November 15, 2016

What a lovely tradition! I will start it right away with my 3 kids this year. I can’t wait! Thank you Mo. X

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