It’s Christmas time again and I couldn’t be more delighted to share our Advent book list!
Each December, I like to intentionally set most of our school books aside and dedicate our studies to Advent, the coming of Christ. We’ll continue in our math lessons, copywork, dictation, and written/narration; however, we’ll lay aside the rest of our subjects in favor of reading great literature together that we may savor the season in honor of our most gracious God.
Last year was our first year that we dived deeply in literature for Advent (you can find my 2015 Christmas book list here). Let me tell you, it was the most memorable and cherished Christmas season that I’ve had with my children. These books opened up all the feelings and allowed us to experience His love and compassion. We laughed together, we cried together, and discussed deep meaningful topics together. We found ourselves praising Jesus for his abundant blessings but also asking ourselves, “how can we be a light to those in darkness?”
In asking this question it was heart warming to take it full circle and do a bit of volunteer work in our community.
This year, I have intentionally sought out multi-cultural books to read during our Advent season. I want my children to read and laugh about their own latino culture in books and also to experience other cultures and how they celebrate and recognize our Savior’s birth.
Savoring the Season with Literature
Our December schedule in Advent is going to look a little like this.
Each morning in December we’ll dedicate about an hour to a Bible lesson, short stories, poems, and song.
Each Christmas, Katherine Paterson wrote a story for her pastor husband’s congregation to illuminate the true meaning of the holiday season. The twelve included here present a vision of hope and peace harking back to that first Christmas over two thousand years ago.
A collection of 23 American poems, songs, and stories that reflects both a traditional and contemporary Christmas.
Advent Wrapped Picture Books
Late morning, we’ll unwrap one book to read aloud. These books usually strike up great discussion!
Gwendolyn Zepeda’s rhythmic prose is combined with April Ward’s bright illustrations to create an affectionate and amusing story about sibling relationships that introduces an important Hispanic holiday tradition–making tamales!
This is Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of a little Fir Tree that longed for something more than the forest.
Strega Nona returns with her bumbling assistant, Big Anthony, and Bambolona, the baker’s daughter, in time for the big Christmas Eve feast.
As poignant today as it was twenty years ago, Lucille Clifton’s joyful text brings a little boy’s Christmas in the city to life. Newly illustrated in full color by Coretta Scott King Award winner Jan Spivey Gilchrist, this book may have an urban setting, but in emotion and appeal, it is universal.
What are the poor villagers to do? The holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are bound and determined to ruin yet another Hanukkah for them. Every year the beasties snuff out the menorah candles, destroy the dreidels, and pitch the potato latkes on the floor. But these wicked wet blankets never counted on someone as clever as Hershel of Ostropol showing up.
When Bessie decides to explore a frozen ice ship one morning, she finds a new playmate—a baby polar bear. Snow Bear and Bessie are instant friends, but Bessie’s brother and Snow Bear’s mother are worried. The grown-ups wait and watch the little ones play until something happens that will break up the happy pair.
Christmas always comes to Nella’s house, but Santa Claus brings gifts only once in a while. That’s because it’s the Depression and Nella’s family is poor. Even so, Nella’s hoping that this year she and her two sisters will get a beautiful Baby Betty doll.
What at first seems the simple story of a Jewish girl, Trisha, and her Christian neighbors, whose bout with scarlet fever at Christmas threatens to ruin Trisha’s Hanukkah. Trisha and her family respond with a loving gesture that is rewarded in kind.
This picture book inspired by Scripture tells the story of Christmas from Josephs point of view.
Although Bubba Brayna is almost blind and deaf, she makes the best potato latkes in the village. On the first night of Chanukkah, she cooks a special batch for the rabbi, who is coming to visit her. When she hears a thumping at the door, she lets in her guest. Only later does she realize she has served a bear her delicious latkes.
One Christmas Eve Santa has a secret helper who sets off in a reindeer-drawn sleigh with a huge stack of toys, just like Santa; but will the mysterious helper do the job as well as Santa?
Christmas is only days away and Arthur can’t find the perfect gift to give Santa! Finally, he has an idea and with a little help from his sister, Christmas will be a success!
Circle of Wonder is the story of one lonely child’s experience of a special magic at Christmas. Tolo is drawn to a miraculous fire circle, where the Elk, the Wolf, and the Eagle share “the real gift of the fire” with him.
A spider spins a cobweb curtain over the mouth of a cave to hide the Holy Family from soldiers who are looking for them.
A little boy who becomes a clown.
Tyler’s family needs a new Christmas tree angel, but the only angels Tyler can find have blond hair. Searching for a new angel for his family’s tree–one that looks like him– has become his special project. But it’s not until Christmas day that Tyler discovers that angels, like people, come in all different colors.
Beautifully written Bible-based text with rich illustrations. Encourages children to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
A Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child.
The youngest child of a Depression era Arkansas farm family, Jonathan Worle is looking forward to the best Christmas he has ever known.
After they prepare their traditional Puerto Rican Christmas celebration, Eric and Grandma visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a school project, where he sees a painting by Diego Velasquez and realizes for the first time that he could be an artist when he grows up. Grandma witnesses his fascination, and presents Eric with the perfect Christmas gift-a set of paints-to use in his first steps toward becoming an artist.
During the time of the birth of Jesus, a fourth Wise Man, Artaban, sells all his possessions to buy three precious jewels which he hopes to present to the newborn Christ Child.
When the Mole family finds out about Christmas and the fat man in the red suit, they ask for a telescope to help them see the stars.
Children will be deeply touched as they understand, perhaps for the first time, the significance of Christ’s life and his atoning sacrifice on the cross.
This classic story reveals how love is the best present of all as two children and an Eskimo named Nick borrow some huskies from a famous musher and race to bring greetings to a small Bering Sea village.
Afternoon Tea Time
My children have come to adore their tea time. In the afternoon, around 2-3 pm, we bring our bright red tea kettle to a steaming boil. Once the kettle comes to a full pitched whistle, I pour the water into their mugs and the children take turns unwrapping their chocolate pu•erh tea to begin the steeping process. Once steeped and released of all its chocolate goodness, we finish it with a spoonful of honey and splash of cream. Chocolate tea, it’ll make a tea lover out of anyone 😉
Cuddled up on the couch, sipping chocolate tea, and listening to a good read-aloud … it is no wonder that it’s our favorite part of the day. This Christmas season, I’ll be reading aloud the following books during our afternoon tea time.
1. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
This is the delightfully warm and enjoyable story of an old Parisian named Armand, who relished his solitary life. Children, he said, were like starlings, and one was better off without them. But the children who lived under the bridge recognized a true friend when they met one, even if the friend seemed a trifle unwilling at the start. And it did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.
The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
All year long Lily and Liam look forward to the holidays at their grandparents’ farm. It’s always the perfect trip: walking to the lilac library, trimming the tree, giving gifts. But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different. This holiday, Lily and Liam will find out the meaning of a special gift.
Evening Read-Aloud Advent Book
This year we are going to continue in the Arnold Ytreeide series of advent adventure books. Last year, we read Jotham’s Journey and it quickly became one of our favorite books of the year! These books are engaging! They’re filled in history and action packed adventure that will captivate any child. There are intense and violent moments, so I would recommend these books for children 7 and older. After each short chapter, there is a devotional that follows.
This year, after supper, we’ll light our advent candles and dive deep into Bartholomew’s Passage.
The highly anticipated follow-up to Jotham’s Journey!
Bartholomew’s Passage is an engaging story that guides families through the Advent season. Young Bartholomew’s adventures start when Roman soldiers destroy his village and disperse his family, continue through his enslavement to a tyrannical master and his escape with his new friend Nathan, and end with a reunion with his family in Bethlehem. Along the way Bartholomew makes a new friend, a young boy named Jotham!
I hope you enjoy this book list! I’m praying that this Advent season is just as joy-filled as last year and that we’re able to savor and cherish the season as we recognize the most amazing gift that is our Lord Jesus.
What are your plans this Advent season? Do you have any books you can recommend to us? Please share in the comments below.
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Christmas Book Lists