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When I first saw the idea a few years ago of wrapping 25 books as a Christmas countdown, I thought it was so great and wanted to do that with the girls. Fast forward the five years that it took from idea to action and the girls think its absolutely fantastic.

One of the reasons that it took me so long was just collecting books that were really good and getting enough over the years because who really wants to buy 25 books at once?!? But this year, an amazing tool called the library is taking a very active part in our advent countdown. In fact our first book needed to go back the same day because I checked it out too early!

So some are new to us books that I’ve thrifted, some are from Christmas past and over half are library books. I warned the girls ahead that they didn’t get to keep all the books and they don’t mind at all. The fun for them is opening a new book and snuggling in to read together before breakfast.

I have to admit that as of the evening of November 30, I still didn’t have any of the books wrapped and was almost ready to pop the unwrapped books in a basket. BUT a mama friend and two sweet little friends jumped right in at knitting night and wrapped those books up in record time.

When I posted a picture on my instagram, I had lots of requests for my book list so I said I’d try to get a post up of our favorites. As you’ll see, it was hard to choose. There are some incredibly gorgeous Christmas books, both illustrations and writing.  Some are more overtly focused on the story of Christmas and the Christ Child as that is our belief and tradition but I would say usually in a beautifully written way. Many of the books we most enjoy are on the traditions and culture of Christmas; the girls especially love stories of the “old ways” as you’ll see. We also include St Nicholas in our tradition rather than Santa so there’s not much in our book list with the newer Jolly ol’ fella. We’ve also got some seasonal/wintery favorites that make this list as well. I’ll share them through Amazon links as way to get a good look at each one if you’d like.

The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumor Godden & Barbara Cooney

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston & Barbara Cooney

Becky’s Christmas by Tasha Tudor

Christmas Farm by Mary-lyn Ray

Silver packages by Cynthia Rylant

Pioneer Christmas; Celebrating Backwoods by Barbara Greenwood

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo & Bagram Ibatoulline

Song of the Stars by Sally Loyd Jones

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

Christmas Stable by Astrid Lingren

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck

The Polar Express by Chris Allsberg

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

The Bakers Dozen; A St Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard

The Yule Tomte & the Little Rabbits by Ulf Stark

A Calf for Christmas by Astrid Lingren

Silent Night, Holy Night by Werner Thuswaldner & Robert Ingpen

The Visit by Mark Kimball

An Early American Christmas by Tomie DePaola

Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

A Time to Keep; A book of Holidays by Tasha Tudor

 By Trisha Romance A Star for Christmas [Hardcover]

Many of the Jan Brett books are absolutely lovely as are many by Tasha Tudor as well as Tomie DePaola, it would just take to much time to list all of them them.

For Younger Children:

Stopping By Woods on a Wintry Evening by Robert Frost & Susan Jeffers

The Winter Barn by Dorothy Ripley

Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson

Mortimers Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson

Animals Christmas Eve by Gail Wiersum

Chapter Books:

We haven’t read a lot of Christmas chapter books yet but this year we will read A Christmas Carol together and last year, we read The Family Under the Bridge. Many chapter books have a section about Christmas that we have read through out the year so I’ll give a list of those that I think of.

The Family Under The Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggins (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm also has Christmas Chapters that I loved as a kid.)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens & illustrated by Roberto Innocenti

Laura Ingalls Wilder books all have at least one Christmas chapter. For younger children, the best ones are Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie and On the Banks of Plum Creek. **Just a little warning, should you read the entire books, there is some very overt racism in these books (especially Little House on The Prairie) that you may choose to skip or talk about. For us, its been a good chance to address some of the very wrong ways that specific groups of people have been treated in the past and currently and how racist attitudes are present even in people who seem really great and kind (this can include ourselves.**

I’d love to hear some of your favorite Christmas books. What is your family enjoying this year?