Our family loves books, and years ago I stumbled upon the idea to wrap up holiday books before the start of advent, and mark the countdown to Christmas by opening up a book each day. We've done this several years now, and it's a tradition that both of my girls love - as soon as they awake in the morning, they are making their selection for the day and tearing into it.
There are some books that I know are only in our home temporarily (especially board books, which will age out as my youngest develops a longer attention span), but I thought it would be fun to share what is currently in our collection. Please feel free to contribute suggestions; there are several titles on my wishlist, and each year I try to add at least one new book to the rotation.
If you are interested in starting your own tradition but don't have many Christmas books on hand and are intimidated by the cost of buying dozens of books, I recommend you collect all year, keeping an eye out at garage sales and library sales (my library is kind enough to have a holiday section, which I go straight to each year). Then I enhance my collection via Amazon (the Amazon links here are affiliate links, meaning that should you make any purchase via these links, Amazon will give me a small percentage, at no additional cost to you).
As our pile is pretty diverse, I'm going to do this in installments. This first (and largest) installment focuses on the general interest Christmas books. Then I describe our winter-themed books, our nativity books, and our board books.
Also, one suggestion (that I have yet to implement myself): when you're packing away the books for the year, I suggest taking the time to wrap them then, so you're not rushing yourself once Advent rolls around again (one year I was wrapping some books every few days, as I didn't have enough time to do them all before we began). Otherwise, I'm hoping to sew reusable bags to easily insert them in, so as to save time and eliminate the wrapping paper waste.
The After-Christmas Tree by Linda Wagner Tyler
Are You Grumpy, Santa? by Gregg and Evan Spiridellis
This is a new-to-us title for Christmas 2017, but I think the girls will be excited to experience this one.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
Bear Snores On), but they aren't (yet) in our home library.
It's well known that bears hibernate through the winter, so this story shows how hard the bear fights his desire to sleep so that he can celebrate the holiday with his friends.
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
I'm hoping to start reading this in the evenings early enough in the season to leisurely make it through the book. It's a popular enough title that the play is often performed annually - perhaps next year I'll start the tradition of taking my daughters to the play.
In it we meet the rascally Herdman children, who end up cast in the church play after initially just showing up for the free treats. Anxieties run high that they will destroy the play, but their innocence and curiosity as they approach the nativity story lends a freshness to everyone.
The Biggest, Most Beautiful Christmas Tree by Amye Rosenberg
A Charlie Brown Christmas, Pop-Up Edition by Charles M. Schulz
A Christmas Carol illustrated by Joe Boddy
The Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker
A crocodile is delivered as a gift to the family, and they're coming to terms with him eating everything in sight. At the end, there is regret when they learn the gift was delivered to them by mistake. The illustrations are charming, the family members are distinct in their personalities and reactions, and it's just a fun story overall.
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It's a shorter picture book describing a Christmas the Ingalls family shares with relatives and friends. Fans of the series will recognize details.
I even see there are several Laura Ingalls Wilder picture books that would be well suited to my winter-themed advent collection (Winter on the Farm, Sugar Snow, and Winter Days in the Big Woods).
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
This is a beautiful and touching book.
The Christmas Tree That Grew by Phyllis Krasilovsky
Corduroy's Christmas by Don Freeman
Corduroy can participate with him preparing for and celebrating Christmas.
I've begun retiring some of the more simplistic board books, so this was brought in as an intermediary for Christmas 2017 for my three-year-old.
Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tefuri
There are also instructions for the various crafts at the close of the book (which will be a highlight for my girls as they encounter it for the first time in 2017).
It appears this book is no longer in print, although used copies are still available online - I've unwittingly stumbled upon several treasures at our phenomenal library book sales (they kindly assist by curating a holiday section in the children's area, which I scour).
An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
This is a harder book to come across compared to some of dePaola's other work, but it has his characteristic illustrations and can be a good conversation starter about how (and why) various traditions came to be.
Elmo Saves Christmas by Christine Ferraro and Tony Geiss
There's also a Christmas special, which is what inspired the creation of this book.
Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano
Find the Nutcracker in His Christmas Ballet
Froggy's Best Christmas by Jonathan London
The Gingerbread Doll by Susan Tews
I feel spoiled yet again by my library book sales (I know I'm a broken record, but I've repeatedly found treasures there that are out of print). This was discovered Fall 2017. The illustrations are captivating and the message focuses on the love behind acts of giving, even in this instance when the gingerbread doll could not last forever.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss
Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
There's a beautiful line when Lucida is anxious about attending the Christmas service since she has no gift to offer after her mother becomes ill and cannot finish her woven blanket that was to cover Jesus in the annual procession. An older woman tells her, "Any gift is beautiful because it is given." In this spirit, Lucida gather up tall green weeds nearby, and a transformation happens.
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
Llama Llama Red Pajama), but I jumped when I saw this one at the library book sale, thus adding an amusing read to our 2017 Christmas season. In it we see Llama Llama struggle for patience, as waiting for Christmas is SO HARD. Our girls will be able to relate to the difficulty, and they'll giggle along as we exaggerate his moanings.
Madeline's Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans
Merry Christmas, Curious George by Margret and H.A. Rey
Merry Christmas, Everybody!
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
Merry Christmas, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fame. It's a numerical book, detailing all of the ornaments Mouse is using to decorate his tree.
The Merry Christmas Mystery by Betty Birney
Mickey's Christmas Carol: A Little Golden Book
The Mole Family's Christmas by Russell Hoban
(I've since passed this on to a friend, but I'll leave it up here in case it's of interest to others, or I want to acquire it again some day.)
Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson
Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Muppet Christmas Carol movie is actually one I didn't see until having children (my husband was the one who was familiar with it growing up), but now it's in regular rotation during the Christmas season and I really enjoy it.
The Muppets: The Gift of the Magi
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing
It's December 23rd and we're following a family frantically trying to prepare. The book follows the meter of the familiar "Night Before Christmas" poem.
Noel by Romeo Muller
(I've since passed this on to a friend, but I'll leave it up here in case it's of interest to others.)
Not Enough Beds! A Christmas Alphabet Book by Lisa Bullard
The Nutcracker based on the classic story by E.T.A. Hoffmann
It's an interesting read, but if you're looking for an account that will more closely match the ballet, check out something like this Little Golden Book, which we also have. This retelling of the story closely matches the popular ballet. I love the music and the dancing and have been waiting patiently until my oldest daughter was old enough to enjoy the production, and this was the year. After I bought the tickets, I pulled out these two books and we read them both so she would have the story fresh in mind. Just as I'd hoped, she was on the edge of her seat. And for Christmas 2017, I added in this copy of the Nutcracker that has profuse pictures from the ballet, along with a CD of the music. This way my oldest daughter and I can relive our experience while whetting the appetite (and gauging the interest) of my youngest daughter.
Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
The Perfect Christmas Tree by Rita Walsh
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
While we have several titles that acknowledge Santa's traditional role, we've never "believed" in Santa here. However, my girls are aware of his traditional role and my oldest saw this move for the first time at Christmas 2016. She enjoyed it and this title seems a standard one to include in our rotation (I find we typically enjoy saturating ourselves with Christmas movies in December, often making a point to enjoy various titles the weekend after we've read the books, so this is a natural inclusion).
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a Little Golden Book
One thing we sometimes do, after opening a book that also has a movie, is make a point to watch the corresponding show that night (easy to do for something like the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, but the movie-length ones usually have to wait for the nearest weekend, what with our oldest in school).
Silver Bells by Livingston and Evans
When Christmas Feels Like Home by Gretchen Griffith
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston
The town rotates which family donates the holiday tree, and when it is time for Ruthie's family to provide the tree, they select and mark it very early in the year, with plans to cut it down in December. Her father has to go to war, and we watch as the family bands together in a time of uncertainty.