A few truths about me:
- I love reading aloud to my kids. It’s my favorite way to “waste time” with them.
- I could spend all day in a library reading children’s books.
- Advent is my favorite liturgical season.
- In my home educator role, I’m learning that I’m energized when I can pick a little from here, a little from there, and organically create learning opportunities that fit my kids’ needs. Call it structured unschooling. (oxymoron?)
Put all these together and what do you have?
Our 2014 Advent & Christmas Read-Aloud Book List!
Throughout Advent and Christmas we are setting aside our regular homeschool curriculum in favor of simplifying the schedule and savoring the season. I love the idea of wrapping up 25 Christmas books and letting the kids open one each day of Advent. I love it so much that I couldn’t keep it to 25. (Discipline, Lisa, discipline!)
Before I get to our list, however, I have a favor to ask of local readers. I recently visited the public library to check out some of the books on this year’s list, and I noticed a help-wanted ad for volunteers to deliver books to shut-ins and elderly who can’t make it out to the library. So I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be a great Advent act of love to allow my children to join me and take books to those in need, and then maybe read aloud some of our books with them? The hang-up with this plan is there’s an application process and I’m caught up in its bureaucracy at this point. Now I’m seeking a few names of people in the West Des Moines area who might enjoy an occasional visit from our family. If you have a suggestion or two, drop me a note here.
So here is our 2014 Advent & Christmas Read-Aloud Book List. I can’t wait to get started! I have linked up all these titles in our Amazon Store as well.
Day 1 — Sunday, November 30:
Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas by Antonie Schneider
One-page stories to read each day of Advent. Good for younger kids. This will take the place of nightly Bible stories in our home.
One Wintery Night by Ruth Bell Graham (bride to Rev. Billy Graham)
This is a chapter book that I will read each day with my oldest. Similar to the Jesse Tree. It’s about a snowy night, a warm cabin, and a boy who hears the Christmas story told for the first time, beginning with Creation and ending with the Resurrection. Breathtaking illustrations!
Day 2 — Monday, December 1:
The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park
This story follows a merchant and his son as they collect resin tears from trees, or myrrh, to sell at the market. At the market they find three men looking for an exceptional gift, and you might guess how this one ends. A neat aspect of this book is that it shows how myrrh is produced, harvested, and used.
Day 3 — Tuesday, December 2:
Saint Francis and the Nativity by Myrna Strasser
Explains the history of the nativity scene in a novel way.
Day 4 — Wednesday, December 3:
Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Throwing this one in for the two younger kids. Alliteration much like Brown’s classic Good Night Moon.
Day 5 — Thursday, December 4:
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (pen name for William Sydney Porter)
A young married couple deals with the challenge of buying secret gifts for one another with very little money. A classic tale of giving and receiving.
Day 6 — Friday, December 5:
A Small Miracle by Peter Collington
This story is told not through words but rather through 96 miniature pictures, each worth at least one thousand words. It’s truly beautiful, and the simplicity of it makes it perfect for this season.
Day 7 — Saturday, December 6 (Feast of Saint Nicholas):
We party-on on this day!
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepherd
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan
Saint Nicholas: The Story of the Real Santa Claus by Mary Joslin
The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi
Day 8 — Sunday, December 7:
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
A classic and touching story about the power of family.
Day 9 — Monday, December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception):
Mary The Mother of Jesus by Tomie dePaola
The story of Mary from her childhood to her assumption into Heaven.
Day 10 — Tuesday, December 9 (Feast of Saint Juan Diego):
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child.
Day 11 — Wednesday, December 10:
The Huron Carol by Father Jean de Brebeuf
The Huron Carol is recognized as the first North American Christmas carol. It was written by St. Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the Huron Indians in the 1600s.
Day 12 — Thursday, December 11:
Room For A Little One by Martin Waddell
Sweet little story of Jesus’ birth, told from the animals in the stable.
Day 13 — Friday, December 12 (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe):
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola
Recounts the appearance of the Lady of Guadalupe to a poor Indian farmer in Mexico in 1531.
Day 14 — Saturday, December 13 (Feast of St. Lucy):
Lucia Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde
Introduces readers to St. Lucia’s life and Christmas-related festival as it is traditionally celebrated in Sweden and around the world.
Kirsten’s Surprise by Janet Shaw
Part of the American Girl series — Kirsten and her family celebrates their first Christmas in America. Kirsten wants to keep some of their old Swedish traditions alive in the new country, so she secretly plans a Saint Lucia celebration.
Day 15 — Sunday, December 14 (Third Sunday of Advent):
Bambinelli Sunday by Amy Welborn
A wonderful story about sharing, comfort, generosity, and forgiveness through the lens of a long-standing Italian tradition.
Day 16 — Monday, December 15:
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
Poignant tale of family tradition set around Christmastime during the Great Depression. Watercolor-and-pencil style illustrations. Lots of mileage with this book in terms of homeschool lessons. Check out Homeschool Share for examples.
Day 17 — Tuesday, December 16:
The Angel of Mill Street by Frances Ward Weller
This one makes for an outstanding read-aloud. Beautiful watercolor illustrations. And a huge black dog plays a central role in this story, which in our house is a cool thing given we also have a HUGE black dog (who taught me a lesson about McDonald’s shakes once upon a time.)
Day 18 — Wednesday, December 17 (Las Posadas):
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
A story about the Hispanic Christmas custom of Las Posadas — Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay the night of Jesus’ birth.
Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets
This one explores more about the traditions of Christmas in Mexico, especially Las Posadas.
Day 19 — Thursday, December 18:
Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve by Jan Brett
This charming story is based on the author’s travels to Norway and Finland, incorporating folk style with troll and mischief behavior. Another great one for building homeschool lessons off one book.
Day 20 — Friday, December 19:
Little Star by Anthony DeStefano
This book was written as an assignment for Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt when DeStefano was a high school student. Read the awesome story here about how this high school writing project was finally published nearly 30 years later.
Day 21 — Saturday, December 20:
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
For those who cringe at the creeping materialism surrounding Christmas, this pious story about the origins of the candy cane is definitely a change of pace.
Day 22 — Sunday, December 21:
The First Night by B.G. Hennessy
Simple, beautiful re-telling of the Christmas story. Good for young kids.
Day 23 — Monday, December 22:
The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola
Set to the words of the classic Christmas hymn of the same title. Beautifully illustrated with a copy of the music at the back of the book.
Day 24 — Tuesday, December 23:
Merry Christmas Curious George by Margret and H.A. Rey
This one’s a no-brainer to include if you have a little one who loves the curious monkey.
Day 25 — Wednesday, December 24 (Christmas Eve):
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
No explanation needed!
And Because We Just Can’t Get Enough of Tomie …
And of course we’ll waste some more “holy leisure” time with our favorite children’s author. The following titles will have a permanent place in the Christmas book basket (which means laying all around the house):