Advent Traditions can begin with using what you have on hand. Many families have a difficult time finding Advent Calendars that keep the focus on the season of Advent rather than highlighting the giving of trinkets or candy. We rather enjoy the giving of trinkets with our family’s tradition of using a Lego Advent Calendar but it’s hardly drawing attention to the birth of Jesus. Which is why we do an additional Advent countdown to keep our family focused on the season of Advent.
Each year we do an Advent Book Countdown. This idea was passed on by Margi during a Moms’ Group presentation, many, many years ago when our older kids were very young. This is an alternative option for an Advent Calendar countdown. We had a decent Christmas book collection which made this an easy tradition to add to our family’s Advent celebration. Before we began the Advent Book Countdown we would put our Christmas books in a basket near the tree and hope the girls would pick one up to read. All it takes is a little idea to set you up for some Advent calendar fun.
The idea: wrap up the books and let them be the treat for the day. Brilliant! Every book lover’s dream!
Over the years we have collected a good variety of Christmas picture books. Some are religious most are not. As I looked through them I decided that I was going to select a few books for specific days. There are several significant feast days during December and I wanted to do a little something special on those days. I pulled out the books specific to those feast days so that the children will remember the importance of that saint. I wrapped up each book, carefully labeled my special day books and put them under the tree. This idea worked beautifully. The children were so excited to be able to open a “present” book every day. I worked it out so they took turns choosing a book. There was only one rule: Unless the books were marked with a note stating when it must be opened they were able to choose any book under the tree or now in the basket. Easy. Fun. Perfect. The best part? The special books about saints. I was glad they were interested in learning about those saints. There are so many feast days that doing a book for every saint would be too much. I chose to do a few that are significant to us. Below is the list of books I used for those special days. Having a book for a feast day encouraged the children to ask about the story and helped them learn. Our early reader picture books are phased out to be replaced by some more meaningful stories. We will not eliminate the picture book focus, that’s what makes this so great, their beautiful pictures are great visual reminders of the stories. I’ve been keeping an eye out for other good books to add to our collection and will add a few that I found recently to next year’s queue. This one little idea has become a new family tradition. A good one indeed.
Our December Feast Day Book List
- 5th Saint Nicholas Real Story of the Christmas Legend by: Julie Stiegmeyer
- 6th: Saint Nicholas we read The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by: Gloria Whelan
- 9th: Saint Juan Diego we read The Lady of Guadalupe by: Tomie dePaola
- 12th: Our Lady of Guadalupe we read Our Lady of Guadalupe by: Francisco Serrano
- 13th: Saint Lucia we read Lucia Saint of Light by: Katherine Bolger Hyde
The list below are books I selected for other important days that are not for a saint’s feast day.
- 11th: we read The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
- 16th: we read The Night of Las Posadas by: Tomie dePaola
- 21st we read The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by: Wendy Pfeffer
- 23rd: we read Brigid’s Cloak an Ancient Irish Story by: Bryce Milligan
- 24th: we read The Night Before Christmas by: Clement C. Moore
- 25th: we read The Twelve Days of Christmas by: Laurel Long
The following books are books we love and are wonderful to read:
- The Clown of God by: Tomie dePaola
- The Gift of the Magi by: O. Henry
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by: Susan Wojciechowski
- The Gift of Nothing by: Patrick McDonnell
- The Family Christmas Tree Book by: Tomie dePaola
- The Little Fir Tree by: Jim LaMarche
- The Legend of Old Befana: An Italian Christmas Story by: Tomie dePaola
- Strega Nona’s Gift by: Tomie dePaola
- The Legend of Saint Nicholas by: Demi
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by: Dr. Seuss
- The Story of the Three Wise Kings by: Tomie dePaola