The Christmas book advent calendar is one of my favorite traditions. I haven’t always used 24 books because that gets expensive fast. Instead, I just did what I could until I finished out the collection last year. My plan moving forward is to replace some of the baby board books with story books, remove some of the lamer books, and just adjust each year as needed.
I created this Free Download of a Christmas Book Inventory. Now you can put your books away between January and November and still know what you own/want.
Recommendations for a Christmas Book Advent Calendar
If you’re looking to start or enhance your collection, here are some recommendations.
Oh, and in the spirit of giving here’s another free printable. It’s a tracking/planning thing for your book advent calendar. Why? Because I like to know what book I’m reading that night, and I think you will, too! (click on the image to download).
Please note: These links take you to Amazon.
Classic board books for the Christmas Advent Calendar
From personal experience, I say keep your supply of board books for the book advent calendar low. There are a ton out there and a post dedicated to just board books is coming soon. In the meantime, here are some classics that will make your kids happy year after year.
- Baby Touch and Feel Christmas by DK. I don’t know about you, but to this day it takes great restraint to pass up touching a touch and feel book. And it really doesn’t get much better than a touch and feel Christmas. Right?
- My First Christmas by Tomie dePaula. I always wondered what my kids thought of the holidays when they were babies. This book introduces them to the sites and sounds of the season, and, will be fun for them to look back on as they get older.
- The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman. Nancy Tillman has a way with making things special. Personally, I want that feeling around in my Christmas season.
- I Spy Little Christmas by Jean Marzollo. Normally for these types of things, I highly suggest sticking to a story. Something to read. But the I Spy series is just too fun and is another way to spend quality time before bed doing something fun.
- A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer by Jennifer Adams. This may be the ultimate story for Christmas. Introduce it to them while they’re young and find ways to introduce them to different versions of this tale as they grow older.
Classic storybooks for the Christmas Advent Calendar
As kids grow, their focus grows and we can move away from the board books and into story books. These are my top picks.
- The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson. This classic Little Golden Book tells the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The reason for the season.
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Another classic that should always fill the 24th day slot in a Book-based Advent Calendar. The particular one I selected here is a recordable Advent Calendar. My husband’s grandfather recorded it for us several years ago. It is such a treasure to hear his voice every year.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. Can’t talk about Christmas without reading about Cindy-Lou of Whoville.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L May.We all know the song, now we get the illustrated story to go along with it.
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Kids and adults are drawn to this story. Read the book before watching the movie or before heading out to your local Polar Express Experience.
- Frosty the Snowman by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson. This classic song in book form is a quick read for busy nights.
- Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman. There are many versions of this story in different forms. This one was illustrated by Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things are fame). The story has vast appeal to kids – whether they want to see the ballet performance or not.
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Nothing compares to our first time experiencing snow. Do that with the little boy city-dweller main character in this classic.
- The Christmas ABC by Florence Johnson. Use the alphabet to learn about the sites and sounds of the season.
- The Littlest Christmas Elf by Nikki Shannon Smith. Kids love seeing a little elf working and parents love seeing his persistance. Such a heartwarming classic.
Christmas chapter books for the Christmas Advent Calendar
I’m keeping this selection of stories short because chapter books often mean more than one night of reading. These are just a sampling of classics, but you can change it up every year. My suggestion is to pick one chapter book, read it the first night, and read it along with one of the shorter options every night until it’s done.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Since they were introduced to this as a board book, might as well get the real version, too. This illustrated version is sure to captivate.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. We read this because the play is very popular in my city. It’s a fun book and helps parents appreciate what happens to put on a play.
- Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien. These letters, as the title explains, are letters from Father Christmas. Take time to read one or more a day and enjoy the beautiful illustrations.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I wasn’t introduced to Little Women until my 20s, but I swore I would make sure my kids knew about it earlier. I love this book. It’s one of the only books I’ll buy multiple versions of, but my favorite is from my old hometown favorite illustrator Rifle Paper Co.
New classics for the Christmas Advent Calendar
I don’t really have a rhyme or reason for the following selections. The classic options below are, I feel, books we could’ve come across in our own childhood. These books are just newer. I stayed away from books that feature popular characters or series (so no Mickey Mouse or Llama Llamas), but those will appear in a list soon. No worries. And now for the new classics.
- The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert. Honestly, I really just love the photos.
- A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe. This sweet tale of an old pine tree who wishes to be a Christmas tree, and the forest animals who try to make his dream come true.
- Night Tree by Eve Bunting. A heartwarming peek into a family’s tradition of decorating a forest tree.
- When Santa was a Baby by Linda Bailey. Imagining Santa as a baby is everything you thought it would be, while also remaining a complete surprise.
- Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas by Rubin Pingk. Graphic novel fans will love this story about a ninja who wants a snowball fight, but his ninja friends want to stay on Santa’s nice list.