Monday, December 30, 2013


O.k.  So I had ninety percent of this typed out before Christmas, but then we got sick......again  (seriously, we were sick most of November and December), and then Santa's elves (me and Mr. F.) were working under a deadline, trying to get everything ready for the big day.  As a result, this did not get posted.  I thought of not posting it, because hey, Christmas was 6 days ago, and no one is interested.  But the truth is: I want the information.  I want a record of what books we read.  Perhaps, you are one of those crazy, fiendish people, like myself, who start planning what they would like to make/do next year before all the Christmas presents are even out of their wrappings.  (Only to forget about it until it is way to late.)  In which case, hey!  Here are some great books to thing about including in your advent for next year.  

Advent 1: The Christmas Book Advent.  

Find 25 Christmas titles, request them from your library, and present a new book, wrapped, every day.  Having a new book every day is key for us.  Last year, I discovered the idea of a book advent too late.  Instead, I checked out a stack of Christmas books, and brought them home.  We read them all in a couple of days, and then the novelty petered out.  Finn really enjoys having a new book to look at and read every morning.  I sewed a cloth gift bag the dimensions of the biggest books so that it would fit them all.  Then, every night, I slip a new book into the bag, tie a ribbon around it, and set it on the couch to be found in the morning.

Here are the titles we read this year:

Snowmen at Christmas--Snowman come alive on the night before Christmas and have a celebration of their own.  Text is in rhyming verse.  Finn loves this one, and it is a repeat from last year.

The Polar Express--A Christmas classic.  I see Finn getting more into this as he gets older.

Christmas in the Barn--I think this might be my favorite religious picture book.  I like the illustrations and the rhyming text.  

Bear Stays Up for Christmas--We are huge Bear fans, so this was a winner.  Bear wakes up from his slumber to celebrate Christmas with his friends.  We had to return this one already and that made Finn sad.

Christmas in the Big Woods--I love the Little House on the Prairie books and this is a nice simple version of..wait for it......Christmas in the Big Woods.

Little Santa--A story of Santa as a young boy growing up in the North Pole with his family.  Cute and an instant favorite here. 

Baboushka and the Three Kings--I shamelessly put this one on the list for me.  The story is typically Russian, which means that there is no real conclusion and hints of melancholy.  Yay?

Song of the Stars : A Christmas Story--Animals from all over sense the impending birth of the Savior and rejoice.  I didn't mind it, but it wasn't a favorite.

On This Special Night--A mama cat and kitten hear from other animals about the birth of a new-born babe.  I say, "meh" but Finn actually wanted to read it a few times.

The Twelve Days of Christmas--A nice, illustrated version of the classic Christmas carol.

The Christmas Magic--This is a nice, secular Santa book.  Most other Santa books are about toys! and fun! and laughter!  But this one is quiet and lovely illustrated.  I liked it a lot.  Finn was less enthusiastic.

The Snowman--Finn loves the movie, so I had to include this one.

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas--Pete the Cat.  Need I say more?  Universal toddler appeal.

The Night Before Christmas--We liked A creature was stirring (farther down on the list) last year, so I felt like we needed to read the original too.

Toot & Puddle : I'll be home for Christmas--There might have been mutiny if I did not include this book.  We LOVE Toot and Puddle at this house.

Olivia Helps with Christmas--Again.  We are Olivia fans.  Another no brainer.

Santa Claus : the World's Number One Toy Expert--This seemed fun and jolly, so I included it.

A Creature was Stirring : One Boy's Night Before Christmas--We loved this one last year.  Two story lines: the original and then a new one telling of a boy getting a peak at Santa.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona--We love Strega Nona books.

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree--The tree that just keeps on giving.  This is a repeat from last year too.

A Christmas Goodnight--A new title for us.  This made it on the list of books to be taken upstairs for bedtime reading.

Room for a Little One : a Christmas Tale--Animals come to share a stable with an ox.  There is room for all, including a new-born babe.  Finn seemed to enjoy the read.

The Nutcracker--A toddler accessible version.  I love the story, but Finn didn't seem impressed.

The Jolly Christmas Postman--I think this is my favorite Christmas book.  It was highly recommended and I had to request it from a different library system.  There are pockets with letters, games, and puzzles.  I have already purchased our own copy.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger--another repeat from last year.  A cute story about a mouse and a nativity set.

Advent 2: Tell me the Stories of Jesus.

As I fear that I am already raising a couple of heathens, I felt that we should have a religious advent as well.  I came across this one which was printed in The Friend a few years back.  I found a nativity picture that I liked and cut out puzzle pieces to lay out on top.  On the back of each puzzle piece I put the scriptural reference and Gospel Art Kit number.  Each day, we saw more of the picture underneath as we took off another puzzle piece.  There are other similar advents out there, however, I liked that it referenced a picture from the Gospel Art Kit for each set of scripture.  This seemed sort of key to having any success with a 3 1/2 year old--something to look at.  That being said, I don't actually have the Gospel Art Kit.  I have the Gospel Art Book and the pictures are numbered differently and are at times different.  Usually, I could find a suitable replacement.  This page is useful if you don't actually have the Gospel Art Kit and are adapting, like us.

What we did the last few days, which I found more successful, was to watch the related video instead of reading the verses and finding a picture.  Some of the scriptures are long and contain more detail than what I am aiming for now--which is basic understanding.  The videos, in contrast, are geared toward a young audience with appropriate language and explanation and are just the right length for short attention spans.

Both of these advents were awesome in helping us feel the holiday spirit.  Both of them are really low key and require very little effort on my part besides the initial development.  And I can see keeping both of these as traditions in the years to come.


RFamily said...

I am glad you posted this. I appreciate the idea

RFamily said...

Ideas - a bag vs wrapping the books was genius. Our advent plans didnt really happen, so I am already looking to next year.


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