Thursday, November 21, 2013

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day Three: Christmas Book Countdown

Warning - this post in LONG.  We Inces love books, so I can't help it.

Seth (2011), 18 months old
This blogging every day is kind of killing me because it's coinciding with Seth dropping his afternoon nap.  The topic today has provided somewhat of a solution for turning nap time into "rest time" so I can actually get stuff done!  If you missed the first two posts from the series, here they are:

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions}
Day One: Christmas Playlist
Day Two: Elf on the Shelf

I stumbled upon the Christmas Book Countdown on Pinterest last year.  The idea is to wrap all of your Christmas books, and let your kids open one each night and read it as their bedtime story.  The idea would be to have 24 books so that it acts as an Advent calendar of sorts in the month of December.

Now, I love books.  So much.  And I love Christmas, so this idea made me really excited.  I immediately amped up my Christmas book collecting.  But as I thought about it more, I didn't want my kids to not have all of their Christmas books at their fingertips during the month of December.  I put these books away the rest of the year so that they are extra special once Christmastime rolls around again.  So I was conflicted. I loved the wrapping idea and how that would cause each book to be treasured instead of a glut of Christmas books December 1st (Ok November 23rd!). So I decided we'd start mid November so that they'll have access to all of their Christmas books the whole month of December before I pack them away again for next year.  I've been letting Seth open one after "rest time" is over which has helped with the transition from nap time somewhat.

Grumpy Seth after having his nap shortened significantly

2 seconds later, happy Seth opening his first Christmas book

If this idea interests you, but you're feeling overwhelmed at the thought of  getting up to 25 Christmas books, here are some ways we've done it.

Get the grandparents in on it:  We live in Scotland so the grandparents love giving my kids recordable Christmas books. I've also put Christmas books on my kids wish lists - they have been a huge help in contributing to our collection.  They probably have some you could borrow for the month too.

North Pole Breakfast: Instead of having Buddy give our kids an ornament like Andrea does, he's giving each of us a Christmas book.  This is one way I am going to try to take the focus off of the gift receiving and focus more on Jesus (you'll see my book choices below).

Christmas parties: Our baby and toddler group gives each child a Christmas book each year at the annual Christmas party.  If you are a part of organizing any Christmas parties or gift exchanges for your kids preschool or Sunday school or whatever, you could suggest Christmas books as the gift to bring. Also, our church has a Christmas party each year where the parents are asked to provide a 5 pound (currency not weight measurement!) gift for their child, so naturally I always give a Christmas book.

Children's Bibles: Wrap up your kids' storybook Bibles and read the first Christmas story.

Stocking Stuffers: Christmas board books make great stocking stuffers!

Christmas Eve Presents: Each Christmas Eve we give our kids a Christmas book to open.  This was a brilliant idea I got from Emily a couple of years ago.  Her reasoning behind it is that they're going to have trouble sleeping anyway, so this gives them something to do Christmas Eve.  I love this - I remember counting sheep for hours on Christmas Eve as a kid.  Plus it gives me another excuse to give a Christmas book!

The Library: If you don't want to buy them, check them out from the library - who says you can't wrap them up?  Just remember to return them on time (says the girl whose library books were due on October 27th...guess what we're doing tomorrow?)

Now for the stash...  I researched and researched and researched different Christmas books because I didn't want just any story that slapped a Santa Claus (or Baby Jesus for that matter) on it.  I wanted quality and variety.  We have some that are secular, some that are the nativity story, we have some that incorporate Christian themes but aren't nativity stories; some are simple board books, some are lengthy stories, some are mostly illustrations. I used Honey for a Child's Heart as a reference as well as other blogs from Pinterest and

Here is an annotated list of our collection in no particular order (sorry the links are to

1. Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett - one of my favorite board books ever!  The best part about it is the illustrations, and your kids will get a kick out of "that naughty Gingerbread Baby." We put this in Seth's stocking his first Christmas.  He actually loved it so much that I had to get a new copy for Avery's stocking last year because it literally fell apart.

2. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg - The Jolly Postman was one of my favorite books as a child and Janet and Allan Ahlsberg's children's books are the ones that I most enjoy as an adult (especially Avery's current favorite Each Peach Pear Plum and the classic Peepo).  Like The Jolly Postman, The Jolly Christmas Postman is a collection of letters written from one nursery rhyme character to another.  As a child, I loved carefully taking out all of the cleverly written letters.  Last year when I was researching Christmas books, I quickly put it on Seth's wish list when I saw there was a Christmas version.  It back fired a little bit because he's scared of the Big Bad Wolf, but I'm sure some day they will like it. :)

3. Song of the Stars - If you love Jesus Storybook Bible, you need this Christmas book.  It's a rhythmic story with beautiful illustrations - I am a HUGE Alison Jay fan (illustrator for Listen, Listen which might be my very favorite children's book of all time and a couple of Christmas books I have listed further down).  We gave this to Seth for his first Christmas.  This is my favorite nativity story.

4. Christmastime by Alison Jay - I am in love with her illustrations.  Period. This was the Christmas Eve book Seth got last year. This is probably my favorite secular Christmas picture book.

5. Toys by Alison Jay - cute touch and feel book

6. The Nutcracker by Alison Jay - I'm pretty sure this is the version we have.  I can't remember because I already wrapped it up!  Avery got this from her grandparents last Christmas so we haven't had much of a chance to enjoy it.  Can't wait to get my hands on it this year!

7.  Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury - as the title suggests, this one has multiple stories in it.  I only read about 3 of them to the kids as some of the other stories are scary.   I found this via other bloggers who raved about it, but I have to be honest, while the illustrations don't disappoint, I'm not a huge fan of most of the stories - it would've been better to buy the individual stories that I prefer (ie The Mitten).

8. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - classic Christmas story; memorable illustrations

9. Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson - I was specifically looking for Christmas stories that pointed to Jesus as the reason for Christmas, but weren't necessarily a re-telling of the first Christmas since we have a lot of nativity stories, and this fit the bill.  It is illustrated by Jane Chapman who does the bear books which Seth especially loves.  This will be what Buddy gives to Avery this year at our North Pole Breakfast.

10.  The Elf on the Shelf - if you do this tradition, you're supposed to read this the day after Thanksgiving.

11.  Silent Night - this is a large board book that plays the song silent night and tells the nativity story.   Seth received this at our baby and toddler group Christmas party 2 years ago.

12. Maisy's Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins- we're crazy about Maisy over here, so this is what I got Seth as his church Christmas party gift last year.  I got it at Costco in a pack of 10 Maisy books for 10 pounds - I'm not sure if they have this in the States, but my kids love Maisy books, so was a great deal!  I'm pretty sure Costco is doing this again this year.

13. Ten Little Christmas Angels - not sure if I linked to the right book because our cover looks  different than this one, and since I've already wrapped my books, I can't double check the title.  This is a board book Avery received at our baby and toddler group Christmas party last year.

14.  My First Story of Christmas by Tim Dowley- Seth received this at our baby and toddler group Christmas party last year. Great nativity story - simple and clear.

15. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - classic Christmas; great message!  We also have the old version on DVD.

16. Frosty the Snowman - Hallmark recordable book - they don't have this one anymore, but there are some other cute ones this year.  Taylor hates these, but I tell him it's because he's not home all day. :)  I love being able to say to Seth and Avery, "go let grandpa read to you!" when it's 5 o'clock and I'm trying to get dinner going.

17. The Night Before Christmas - Hallmark recordable book

18. God's Promises (Nativity story) - Hallmark recordable book

19. Nativity - Hallmark recordable book

20. Charlie Brown Christmas - recorable book

21. Mickey Mouse Christmas - recordable book

22. The Nativity Story by Juliet David - board book for Avery's stocking this year; shhhh, don't tell her!

23. Bob by Sandra Boynton - we LOVE her books so I thought Avery would enjoy a Christmas one.  She'll get it when Seth gets his church Christmas party book this year.

24. Paddington and the Christmas Surprise - Seth's church Christmas party book

25. Merry Christmas Curious George - taking a gamble on this one; haven't read it, but Seth loves Curious George.  I guess we'll find out!

26. Auntie Claus - the kids I grew up babysitting for LOVED this book, so it's nostalgic for me.  Cute, creative story.

27. Santa is Coming to Edinburgh - this book will commemorate our first and only Christmas in Edinburgh.  I love seeing the familiar scenes in this book.  I know the kids will barely remember living here, so I couldn't pass it up when I saw it in the Rosslyn Chapel shop.

28. Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck and Laura Godwin - illustrator is Felicia Bond the same who did Margaret Wise Brown's The Big Red Barn which both of my kids love.  Simple board book nativity story.

29. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien - this is a compliation of letters Tolkien wrote to his kids over the years posing as Santa. Taylor got this in his stocking last year because of his affinity for The Lord of the Rings.  It's a bit too old for our kids right now, but we look forward to enjoying it with them in a few years.

30. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham - I'll be getting this one from Buddy

31. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer- Taylor will get this one from Buddy

What are your favorite Christmas stories?

about to open their books for today!

Happy Amazon-ing!:)


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