How to Create a Book Advent Calendar for Kids

It seems that everywhere I shop or click these days, I see a new idea for an Advent calendar: 24 days of cheese, wine, chocolate, even cosmetics. Young or old, we all get caught up in counting down to Christmas. So this year, I’m making a calendar out of my favorite things – books! A Book Advent Calendar is a great way to shift the focus toward experiences rather than things.

How to Create a Book Advent Calendar

The Concept is Simple

Wrap up 24 books while your kids aren’t watching, number each one, and stack them in a favorite reading spot. Each evening, let your children open a package and you read the book together as a family. It’s an Advent tradition your kids will remember long after the chocolates have been consumed and forgotten.

christmas holiday books

Something Old…

Most families already have holiday books on hand to choose from, so make sure to include your dog-eared copies of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. The surprise comes in not knowing what book lies underneath the paper, even if it’s an old favorite.

… and Something New

Add a few new titles, too, to increase your children’s anticipation — and your holiday book collection. Not every package has to contain a book; it could be a text you know but have never read aloud together. At Poets.org, for instance, you can find the beloved “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and a host of other printable Christmas poems. Or look online for a well-known hymn or classic story; many are in the public domain and ready for you to download and print. The Christmas Bookshelf on Project Gutenberg has A Christmas Carol, “The Gift of the Magi,” and more.

New Titles for a New Tradition

If you’re ready to try this new tradition we’ve gathered a few recommendations for a range of ages. Also take a look at our roundup of Best Holiday Books to Read Aloud. The Snail on the Wall has all of these books and more, and we’re offering special bundle prices for your favorite three! Just click on the orange titles for more details about each book below.


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Winter is Here book advent calendar snail on the wall

Red and Lulu, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares
Read this lovely picture book early in the season, because it features the evergreen selected to be the famed Rockefeller Center tree. When the tree is moved to its new home in NYC, the birds Red and Lulu get separated and have to find their way back to each other.

Winter Is Here
This book is about the season rather than the holiday itself, so it can stay in your read-aloud rotation for a few months to come. It captures all the wonderful highs and lows of winter in words and pictures.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas, written by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould
If you’ve got elementary-age kids ready for chapter books, wrap up either this book, or its companion book above, and mark it for opening early in the season. Read the first chapter aloud together, and then let them take off on their own. In true Charles Dickens spirit, this novel shows how young Amelia Wishart almost loses hope in the world after her mother gets sick, but in the end she finds the strength to help Santa and save the day.


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A Boy Called Christmas, written by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould
Before The Girl Who Saved Christmas, there was this quirky story of A Boy Called Christmas. With humor and pluck, 11-year-old Nikolas goes on a quest to the North Pole to find his father and rescue the elves of Elfhelm from a frozen future.

The Broken Ornament, written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
If you find yourself striving more for perfectionism than Christmas spirit—and who doesn’t?—this book will speak to you. The author based the story on a real-life incident with his own daughter: a treasured Christmas ornament breaks, and might just ruin everything if they don’t find another way to restore the magic of Christmas.

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, written by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
Your kids’ favorite cat manages to save Christmas in this cute retelling of the classic “Night Before Christmas”. Santa is sick, but Pete has some groovy solutions.


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Construction Site on Christmas Night, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by A. G. Ford
Building on the popularity of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site book that helps kids go to bed across the globe, this holiday version has its own charm, along with a message about work and friendship. It doesn’t take a truck lover to appreciate the rhyming, interactive fun of this read-aloud.

A Home in the Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown , illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Though this book isn’t about the holiday, its barn can’t help but call to mind the stable in the original Christmas story. Here, a menagerie of animals find shelter from the snow together inside a big, warm barn. It’s a brand-new book that will read like a classic, since it’s a never-before-published work from the famed author of Goodnight Moon, brought to life by equally famed artist Jerry Pinkney. Cozy up with this as you close in on Christmas Eve.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lady Vowell Smith is the owner of The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville’s full-service bookstore without a store offering specially selected books at pop-up stores, at special events, and online. You can shop The Snail at its Holiday Bookstore in The Loft at Roosevelt and Company on Clinton Row in downtown Huntsville, from Black Friday through December 22.Follow The Snail at www.snailonthewall.com, @snailbooks on Instagram, or on Facebook. Find Lady at lady.smith@me.com.