This has become one of my favorite posts of the year to write, An Advent Book List for Children. This is the post where I share with you what books I’ve selected for our season in Advent, the 24 days leading to Christmas. You can check out my 2015 Advent book list here, and my 2016 Advent book list here.
Before our season in Advent starts, I like to make sure our December calendar is clear by only committing to a few events. Our days can be filled quite quickly with many parties and activities during this time of year but I’ve learned that in order to savor the season and be completely present with my children, a lighter calendar makes a difference.
For this years Advent selections I chose Christmas fables, tales, and legends! I’m super stoked and hoping my kids find enjoyment in the books I’ve chosen for them.
In following the same routine that we have for the past couple of years, we’ll continue with our regular studies for the next few weeks, however, our poetry and song will be replaced with our Christmas favorites and we’ll set aside a half hour each morning to unwrap our picture book, eat a piece of chocolate from our Advent calendars (from Trader Joe’s, of course!) and snuggle up for a good read and discussion about the coming of Jesus.
This is such a treasured time of year. Friends, even if you don’t homeschool, a lighter version of this will still be deep and impactful and create treasured memories for both you and your children.
Below is our advent plan for this year … and by plan, I mean we don’t always finish all of our books 😉
Each morning in December we’ll read a tale after our Bible reading.
A collection of holiday fairy tales from around the world. Includes works by American Frank Stockdale, Ruth Sawyer, Hans Christian Andersen, and E. T. A. Hoffman.
Advent Wrapped Picture Books
We’ll once again spend a part of our morning unwrapping one picture book to read together. 24 books for the 24 days before Christmas.
A Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child.
In this beloved classic picture book, Tomie dePaola retells and illustrates an Italian Christmas folk tale, breathing warmth and humanity into the character of the lonely Old Befana and her endless search for the Christ Child.
This picture book presents a shortened, somewhat fictionalized version of the life of Saint Nicholas, explaining that Nicholas was a servant of God and that, through him, Gods love was reflected to others. The story touches on the ministry of Nicholas and his generous gift of a dowry to three young girls as a response to Gods love in Jesus. And it brings application to our own lives as we, too, respond with grateful hearts to Gods great gift of love to us.
Once upon a Christmas, a man who had a big heart, but little money, dreamt he could give his friends endless riches. He began to think that perhaps real wealth could not be measured in money, so, taking out his quill, he began to write blessings on a parchment scroll. The humble writer’s prayer was eventually lost in time, but, through the years, his Christmas Prayer began to appear all over the world–obscure villages, big cities, and the homes of families where Christmas is treasured.
Readers who discover this stirring legend will find prayers for each of the twelve days before Christmas, girded with beloved passages of appropriate Scripture.
The Legend of the Christmas Cookie tells the story of a young boy named Jack who learns from his generous mother the story behind the Christmas cookie. The family who began the tradition of baking the special cookies gave them to the needy and shared the story of the very first Christmas. This sweet holiday book offers inspiration for readers to become cheerful givers themselves and encourages them to share the true tale of Jesus’ birth. A delicious recipe is included on the jacket flap so readers can make their own Christmas sugar cookies.
After accidentally being seen by a human, an Icelandic Yule Lad named Stekkjastaur finds he must rely on a young shepherd boy to keep his troll identity a secret. Stekkjastaur gives a gift just to ensure the child’s silence, but the little boy’s happiness makes Stekkjastaur happy as well. He learns that one of the greatest gifts you can receive is the joy in giving to someone else. One by one, the Yule Lads each take a break from his own mischief, and each one learns the happiness gained from gift-giving. Even from a source as unlikely as a troll, a selfish act wrapped up in the Christmas spirit can grow into something wonderful.
A new perspective of the first Christmas follows nine-year-old Dorothy as she travels to see the Baby Jesus and witnesses the miracle of the Christmas Rose.
When she hurts her paw on the fourth day of the race, Akiak can no longer compete in the Iditarod, the famed dogsledding race through 1,151 miles of Alaskan terrain. Her musher has no choice but to leave her behind. The rules say once a dog is dropped from the race, it may not rejoin the team. But ten-year-old lead dog Akiak doesn’t know the rules, and nothing will stop her from catching up to her team. Akiak has never won the race before. Will she be able to help her team win this time?
‘This reissue of a German fairytale from 1905 is a beautiful little book with gorgeous Mabel Lucie Atwell style illustrations. It contains everything you need in a Christmas story: ice castles, fairy-children, and snowmen waiters … The magical illustrations tell the story perfectly.’ — Families Magazine, December 2012
Everybody loves Christmas at Tante’s. The old lady decorates a wonderful tree and makes certain to have something for all who come to visit, be it the nearby village children or the shy animals of the pine forest. The only creatures Tante overlooks are the spiders she has swept out of her cottage while cleaning. But the curious spiders want to come inside and see Tante’s tree, too. When a midnight visitor lets them into the old lady’s home, they unknowingly spin Tante the very gift she has longed for–a gift that has inspired the draping of tinsel on Christmas trees ever since.
This Old World tale about the warmth and wonder of Christmas will leave children enchanted with the magical possibilities of the season.
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.
The Native American tradition of the give-away takes a new form in this engaging dialogue between the Whooping Crane, the Snow Goose, Old Beaver, Grandmother Turtle, the Wind, the Ancient One, and the Creator as well as others. Children of all ages will learn that giving is more than just gifting; it is denying oneself so that another may have a better way.
An English translation of the Aztec version of the birth of Jesus Christ told in 1583.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of An Invisible Thread comes the true, heartfelt, and extraordinary story of how one woman’s decision to help a boy on the street changed both of their lives forever. This heartwarming tale captures the true meaning of the holidays and will be one you’ll want to share with your family year after year as a reminder that a gift from the heart is always the best present under the tree.
A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world. This is a heartwarming, timeless picture book.
Celebrating the joy of homemade gifts, Patricia Polacco introduces readers to a new character who is truly a force of nature in this story reminiscent of Christmas Tapestry and An Orange for Frankie. This is a magical Christmas story the author swears is true, right down to the sleigh tracks on the farmhouse roof!
When a leak ruins the sacristy wall in his father’s church, Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks Christmas Eve service will be ruined. Luckily he and his father find a beautiful tapestry, perfect for covering the damaged wall and giving the church a festive look! But then, an old Jewish woman recognizes the beautiful cloth. Her discovery leads to a real miracle on Christmas Eve.
Originally published over twenty years ago, and out of print since 1998, Sleeping Bear Press is proud to bring this beloved Christmas tale to a whole new audience. Moving and nostalgic, and brought to life by glowing watercolor paintings, it reveals the joy of a very special present and the love that a father and daughter share.
Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. A generous trim-size, matte cover, extraordinary photographs, and foiled title make this a special book for the holiday season.
The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen’s tale into a child plucked straight from America’s melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous-a circumstance as familiar in Andersen’s day as it is in our own.
All alone in an empty field grew a little fir tree. It dreamed of being part of a forest-or part of anything at all. Then one winter day, a man takes the little fir tree away and it finds itself at the center of a little boy’s very special celebration.
This treasured story by the legendary Margaret Wise Brown has been newly illustrated by award-winning artist Jim LaMarche. Warm, glowing paintings complement the gentle text to capture the true heart of Christmas.
When Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, he goes on without realizing that it is missing. One by one, woodland animals find it and crawl in; first, a curious mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last. Finally, a big brown bear is followed in by a tiny brown mouse and what happens next makes for a wonderfully funny climax.
When Aloo-ki’s sled dogs float away on an ice floe, she goes looking for them. She comes upon an igloo with no one home and goes inside. In the meantime, Mama, Papa and Baby Bear swim out and rescue Aloo-ki’s dogs. They all go home for breakfast to find a surprise visitor curled up in Baby Bear’s bed for a nap.
Opening in Depression-era New York City, The Carpenter’s Gift tells the story of eight-year-old Henry and his father selling Christmas trees. They give a Christmas tree to construction workers building Rockefeller Center and celebrate together. Through the kindness of the construction workers and neighbors, Henry gets his wish for a nice, warm home to replace his family’s drafty shack. He plants a pinecone from that first Rockefeller Center Tree. As an old man, Henry repays the gift by donating the enormous tree that has grown from that pinecone to become a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. After bringing joy to thousands as the Rockefeller Center tree, its wood will be used to build a home for another family in need.
AFTERNOON TEA TIME
Each afternoon that we are home, we’ll snuggle up on the couch and read from these chapter books.
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” If those words ring a bell, you’ve probably seen–and fallen in love with–the popular holiday film based on this heartwarming Christmas story. Dreamed up by the author as he watched the Macy’s parade with his own family, it follows the emotional transformation of a thoroughly modern, no-nonsense mother who has taught her young daughter all too well that fairy stories are make-believe and dreams can’t come true. The catalyst for this change: an old man who claims to be…Santa Claus. This beautiful version features color illustrations and spot art by the great Tomie de Paola, a winner of the Caldecott Medal, whose books have sold more than five million copies.
The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak’s art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann’s story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.
EVENING READ-ALOUD ADVENT BOOK
We are once again going to continue in the Arnold Ytreeide series of advent adventure books. Last year, we read Bartholomew’s Passage and just like Jotham’s Journey it 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 recommend these books for children 7 and older. After each short chapter, there is a devotional that follows.
After supper, we’ll light our Advent candles and as a family read Tabitha’s Travels.
Curious, competent, and courageous Tabitha is the daughter of a shepherd who is taking his family on caravan to his birthplace. Along the way, she meets and becomes friends with Jotham and Bartholomew, watches as Romans take her father prisoner, spends time with Zechariah and Elizabeth, helps Mary and Joseph just before Christ’s birth, and ends her travels at the stable in Bethlehem.
With day-by-day readings, reflections for family devotions, and advice for making Christmas a meaningful season of worship, Tabitha’s Travels continues the beloved tradition of celebrating Advent with your family.
I hope you enjoy this Advent book list filled in fables, tales and legends and pray you find joy and peace in this Christmas season!
Tell me, what Advent traditions do you do with your family? Do you have an Advent Book List you can share? Share with us in the comments below!
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