Sunday, November 30, 2014

PMK's 25 top children's book picks for Christmas - a new Advent tradition


Advent. The days and weeks before Christmas build with growing anticipation in our children. Each year, I try to find ways to deepen my children's understanding of their faith and the intent behind our family Christmas traditions. Picture books, stories, and chapter books have  been gifted to us over the years and have become cherished keepsakes during the days of Advent. 

Recently, a friend recommended a new twist on marking the days off the Advent calendar. What if you wrapped up 24 stories for children that highlight the best aspects of the tradition of Christmas? Each day of Advent is a chance to read aloud together and unravel the origins of our favorite Christmas traditions.

To honor today, Sunday, November 30 the first day of Advent, here are 25 favorite Christmas books (with direct links to Amazon for easy purchase) to help create your own tradition:

  1. The Christmas Book by Dick Bruna. Handed down in our family from British relations, this picture book is a simple story to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to the birth of Jesus. Introduces key vocabulary such as shepherd, Bethlehem, frankincense and myrrh. 
  2. Usborne Lift-the-flap Nativity - This Scholastic story of the birth of Jesus presents an interactive read aloud. 
  3. The Carpenter's Gift by David Rubel. A beautifully illustrated story of the Rockefeller Center Tree highlighting the tradition of the Christmas tree.
  4. A Houseful of Christmas by Barbara Joosse. The story of one lovable Granny who shelters her family from an unexpected Christmas snow storm. 
  5. Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson. A PMK favorite for many years. This  is an unbeatable price for a hardcover book that will be reread each year and passed along to the next generation.
  6. The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg's masterpiece of Christmas adventure highlighting the magic of Christmas for those who truly believe.
  7. Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray. Ever wonder about the process that brings a traditional Christmas tree from farm to living room? This is the book we're sharing with friends this year as it is such an important lesson to grasp for those who bring live trees into their homes to decorate. 
  8. A Christmas Carol with fresh illustrations by Brett Helquist that enliven Charles Dicken's classic tale.
  9. Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones. A charming depiction of the story of Christmas told through the eyes of the animals honoring the arrival of "Heaven's Son". The epic illustrations make this a perfect gift.
  10. The Twelve Days of Christmas - Hilary Knight's illustrations make each page something to savor as you read aloud with your children.
  11. The Crazy Christmas Angel Mystery by Beverly Lewis. Featuring "The Cul-De-Sac Kids", this chapter book for grade school kids is perfect to cuddle up with on a cold night.
  12. Richard Scarry's Christmas Mice - Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers with mice hidden in every picture.
  13. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. A longer story for older children to appreciate this classic tale of Christmas memories.
  14. The Christmas Blizzard by Helen Ketteman. A lighthearted look at Christmas with hilarious illustrations starring Santa Claus. 
  15. A Wind In The Willows Christmas - This is a longer story for older children - perfect for a winter day at home. Michael Hague's warm illustration's make it a favorite.
  16. Winter Trees by Carole Gerber. This is the ideal book to read aloud before you choose a Christmas tree. Helps children learn to identify seven types of trees in a winter forest.
  17. The Littlest Christmas Tree by R.A. Herman. Even the smallest of trees finds a perfect home in this ideal short bedtime story.
  18. The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever - Steven Kroll's adorable mice return in this tale of the search for the perfect Christmas tree.
  19. The Mitten by Jan Brett - A favorite story for decades, this story is one to keep and pass along. 
  20. The Berenstain Bears and The Joy of Giving - An inexpensive book with a powerful message. A preschool favorite we still read every year to highlight the real reason for the season.
  21. A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe. Gorgeous pictures and a rich story make a great combination in this new classic.
  22. I'll Be Home For Christmas by Holly Hobbie. Preschool favorites Toot and Puddle have an adventure while they await the arrival of Christmas.
  23. The Twelve Days of Christmas as illustrated by Jade Fang. Told with Animotion picture inserts that bring this story to life while adhering to the classic lines.
  24. Who Is Coming To Our House? This is such a sweet story of the arrival of the baby Jesus - a great story for older children to read to younger siblings.
  25. God Gave Us Christmas - A little cub wonders "Who invented Christmas?" You will love how simply this book outlines the story of the reason for celebrating Christmas.

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