Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, November 12, 2012


It can be challenging to find ways to help children keep their focus on the birth of Christ during the annual "Countdown to Santa and Christmas Presents" that our frenzied culture of consumers gets so caught up in. Well, thank goodness for another kind of countdown: Advent, a time of joyous expectation.

source: onecharmingparty (right click)

Advent means "coming" or "arrival", referring to the coming of the Christ Child as Messiah.  It is a time of waiting and of preparation. For Western Catholic and Protestant Christians, the season of Advent doesn't start until the fourth Sunday before Christmas.  But for Eastern Orthodox Christians, myself included, Advent (also known as the "Nativity Fast") begins on November 15 every year, lasting 40 days.

In helping to mark off the anticipated days leading up to Christmas, many families enjoy using Advent Wreaths with candles and Advent Calendars with little windows to open.  Did you know there are ways to incorporate books into your Countdown?

Devotional Advent books for Children:

A daily prayer and activity book for families
during Advent. Link here (right click)
This book has a story for each night of December.
description here (right click)
A great resource during Advent, with Christmas
traditions, recipes, and crafts from many different countries.
right click to browse inside

An Advent Calendar of Christmas Books: 
I'd like to share some ideas for incorporating beautiful Christmas picture books into your family traditions during this time of anticipation. It takes a little planning, but it's worth the forethought and effort... 

1- You need to determine how many books you need - this will depend on how many days leading up to Christmas you'd like to do this activity (i.e. during all of Advent, during the month of December, or just the last two weeks leading up to Christmas).

 2-  Choose the books.  Gather Christmas books you already have (add some library books if you don't have enough of your own - just be sure to label and read the ones from the library first, so they won't be overdue).  This is also a nice way to start collecting Christmas picture books - buy a few a year to add in!  Click here for my Christmas Book Resource Page, if you need book recommendations.

3- Wrap the chosen books in Christmas paper and number each book according to which day you want your child to open and read each one. [If you're very ambitious, you could number envelopes to adhere to the books.  Inside you would put a card with either an Advent activity, craft, or bible reading written on it.  Refer to the 3 books I mentioned at the beginning of this post for ideas. Or - look here for Christmas crafts from Crafty Crow, and here for Orthodox readings for 40 Days of Advent].

Source here (right click)

4- Put the wrapped, numbered books in a special place...
Some families put them in a basket by the fireplace, ready for a book to be chosen and read each night.

source: The Blackberry Vine
You could also put them under the Christmas tree - opening and reading the last one on Christmas Eve and replacing it with presents for Christmas morning...

source: babyjaynes (right click to open new window)

You could line them across your fireplace mantel...

This ambitious idea is from Babycinno (right click)

Or on bookcase shelves...

from Sarahjanestudios (right click)

Whatever you choose, have fun!  


  1. It's definitely wise to prepare...so it's not too early in my opinion, last year, I decided to do this: http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/2011/11/countdown-to-nativity.html
    and felt like I was scrambling to find 40 books (as that's how long the Orthodox advent is, not 25) that were appropriate!

    1. Martha - so cute!!! I think you've seen my 40 books for 40 days list for the Orthodox Nativity Fast...http://goodbooksforyoungsouls.blogspot.com/2010/11/christmas-book-list.html - it's a lot to pull off the first time you do an Advent Calendar of Christmas Books, but something to aim for as the years go by and you collect more books. :)

  2. This is such a neat idea, something that I'd love to do. If I start now I might be ready in time for Christmas 2017!

    1. Haha - you can do it, Steph! Your kids are still so young, you can start with just a couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. :)

  3. What a wonderful idea! I know my little one loves to unwrap things (she's always willing to help others on their birthdays, haha) and getting to unwrap a little book and read it right there and then sounds like lots of fun! Thanks for the idea!~

  4. The past couple years we've read one of the Arnold Ytreeide Advent books before Christmas and just adapted a little. They are fictional historical adventure stories that help kids imagine what it must have been like for children that were waiting for the Messiah to be born. If you haven't read Jotham's Journey, it's worth a look. We always give books to our children at Christmas time too and take the opportunity to expand our children's library. Last year, we opened a new book for each of the 12 days of Christmas (Nativity to Epiphany). I wish we had a mantle. I really like that idea! :)

    1. Thank you for the recommendation. I haven't heard of these books, but will definitely check into them - the author has quite a fascinating background/education, I must say!

      I love the idea of opening new books for each of the 12 Days of Christmas - certainly takes the guessing out of what to give for each of the days - what a great way to continue the celebration of Christmas through to Epiphany. I'll be doing a post soon on a new book that was published recently about the 12 Days of Christmas - complete with activities and readings.

  5. Thanks for the ideas Miss Wendy! God willing, I will get some of these together in time.

  6. LOVE this idea! Learned it from you a couple years ago and we've been doing it since. Also, we have a Jesse Tree, which is a GREAT way to prepare hearts for our Lord's incarnation! Love you!

    1. Thanks, Barbie! What is your resource for your Jesse Tree? Someone else mentioned it.