There is something magical about reading with kids during the holidays. We pull out the seasonal books, the Christmas lights twinkle, and peppermint fills the air. A book Advent calendar allows us to savor a good book with the kids each day during December leading up to the 25th.
Here is everything you need to create a book Advent calendar for home or school including favorite books to use in each setting.
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Making a Book Advent Calendar for Home
- Step 1: Decide if you want to do a 12 day or 24 day book Advent calendar.
- Step 2: Pick your books. If you have some books already, start with those. See the ideas below to help pick some new ones too.
- Step 3: Decide how and where you want to display the books. If you need some inspiration, check out these 15 ideas.
- Step 4: Wrap and number the books.
- Step 5: Set everything up.
- Step 6: Unwrap one book each day and enjoy reading with the kids.
Making a Book Advent Calendar for the Classroom
Making a book advent calendar for the classroom is much like making one for the home. You’ll still want to wrap the books and place them on a table or in a basket. Or, you might set them in easels on top of a bookshelf.
And, you will want to select 12 books, but not just any books. You want ones that will capture the interest of a whole class wiggly little ones.
Building a Book Advent Calendar on a Budget
It takes time to build a collection of books, but it doesn’t have to be pricey to acquire a good set of books. Try these tips for budget-friendly options.
- Use your public library and check out titles. Make sure that these books are first in the reading line-up so that they can get back to the library before their due dates. I always prefer to order my books through the online portal by visiting my library’s webpage.
- Utilize book club flyers to find many new and popular titles at discounted rates. The binding on these books isn’t great, but you can reinforce the spine with packing tape.
- Used holiday books can be found in great condition at resale shops such as Once Upon a Child, the Goodwill, or the Salvation Army.
- Check to see when the next public library book sale is being held. I’ve always found holiday picks at them for as little as a quarter each.
- Shop books on Amazon on Cyber Monday. Lots of deals to be had!—>Here is an easy link with many of my Christmas favorites
- Another cost-effective option is to read a chapter each day from a chapter book. That way you only need a book or two. I’d recommend The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street or The Family Under the Bridge.
And, don’t feel like you need to start with 24 books. Do a 12 Days Before Christmas instead.
Christmas Book Recommendations for Book Advent Calendars
12 Books Perfect Classroom Read-Alouds (Fun Titles)
The books on this list make wonderful read-alouds for large group reading. They have bright bold pictures, dialogue or rhythm & rhyme, and will capture the attention of a squirmy holiday-ready group of young children.
12 books is a great number for the number of school days many schools have before the winter break.
- The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmasby Laura Murray (make these Gingerbread Man ornaments after reading too)
- Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
- Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
- Pete the Cat Saves Christmasby Eric Litwin
- Don’t Push the Button A Christmas Adventure by Bill Cotter
- Stick Man by Julia Donaldson
- If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
- Turkey Claus by Wendy Silvano
- Olive the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold
- Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno
- Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
- Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin
The Best 12 Picks for Home (Mix of Fun and Meaningful)
Any of the books on the above list would work, or try these.
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry (a favorite from my childhood)
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry (one of my favorites)
- The Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora
- Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco
- Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson
- The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy
- Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell
- The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel by Tracey Corderoy
- Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki
- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
- The Gingerbread Christmas by Jan Brett
If you don’t have the funds or time to do a full 24 days of books, this 12 days list is a great option.
12 More to Take You 24
If you would like to do a full 24 days, then add these books to your list.
- Mrs. Santa Claus by Penny Ives is out of print, but so worth hunting down at the library.
- The Jolly Christmas Postman by Ahlberg
- Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail
- I Spy Christmas by Jean Marzollo
- The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
- Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
- Christmas in the Big Woods(Little House Picture Book) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Night Tree by Eve Bunting
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
- Merry Christmas Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
- The Christmas Wreath by James Hoffman
- A Little Christmas Tree by Anthony Merrill and Michael Bast
Christmas Books for Toddlers
If you want to add some titles just for the baby and toddler crowd, you’ll want to check out our post- Christmas Books for Toddlers.
Tips for Next Year
The real deals come after Christmas so make sure to hit the stores for books after the holidays. You’ll have a jump start on your collection for next year.
Also, wrap for next year right after Christmas. Recycle wrapping paper and wrap up the books right away and that will save you time for next year. Just pack the books away with your Christmas decorations.
Hopefully, you are inspired to start a new tradition with the kids. It’s pretty easy to start and the memories will last a lifetime.
When you get your books all wrapped, show them off on Instagram. Tag me @growingbookbybook and/or #growingbookbybook so I can see them.
Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!