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Create a Christmas Book Advent Calendar

Have you ever heard of a Christmas book Advent calendar? It’s so simple and yet so fun. And best of all, it’s the perfect way to incorporate read-aloud time into your family’s holiday traditions.

Here’s How It Works

With a Christmas book Advent calendar, instead of a toy or a piece of candy, your child opens a Christmas picture book every day. It’s like a chocolate Advent calendar … only better!

Stack of picture books with hot cocoa

Gather Your Books

First, gather enough books so that you’ll have one for every day of Advent. You can use my library list to gather books from the library, or you can use this holiday activity as an excuse to build up your own library of beautiful Christmas books!

So how many books will you need?

The traditional Advent calendar begins on the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30) and continues through four Sundays, ending on December 24. This year Advent begins on Sunday, December 1, so that means you’ll need 24 books.

Wrap Your Books

Wrap enough Christmas books for every day of Advent and add a numbered tag to each one. Create your own tags or download our Printable Advent Tags and choose a set to print and attach to your wrapped picture books.


download printable advent tags now

Display Your Books

Now it’s time to display your Christmas book Advent calendar.

wrapped books for advent calendar

Put the books under the Christmas tree, on a shelf, or in a basket. You might even want to keep them hidden so that your kids will have to hunt for them.

wrapped books in a basket for book advent calendar

How you display them is up to you. Be creative and make it fun!

wrapped books with book advent calendar tags

Countdown to Christmas with Picture Books!

Now comes the fun part. On each day during Advent, have your children open one of the wrapped books for your family to read together. The “togetherness” is part of the joy of this engaging holiday activity.

little boy unwraps picture book for book advent calendar girl opens a picture book for book advent calendar

Perhaps this is the year you’ll start a new reading tradition in your household. Grab a cup of cocoa, a warm, snuggly blanket, and some kids, and get started with some beautiful Christmas books!

girl reads her advent calendar book

Looking for Christmas Picture Books?

Favorite-Christmas-books

If you’d like to create your own picture book Advent calendar but need some picture book inspiration, here are some of my favorite picture books for Christmas. Click to download a checklist of my favorites to take to your local library.

Looking for MORE books? You can find more great library lists here!

Holiday Book Traditions Shared by Our Readers

  • Use a mix of books and movies! – shared by Angela
  • Go outdoors to read your books every day. – shared by Cheryl
  • Read The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman. – shared by Danielle
  • Wrap a new book for each child to deposit on their beds after they fall asleep on Christmas Eve. – shared by Heather
  • Keep a collection of Christmas books that stay in a special basket during Advent. – shared by Danielle
  • Re-wrap Advent picture books before they get stored for the next year! – shared by Beth
  • Just leave unwrapped books under the tree for the kids to choose for anytime reading. – shared by Kelsy
  • Keep a basket of Christmas books under the tree to read aloud during the Christmas season. – shared by Jessica L.
  • Every Christmas our family reads each night from the Jesus Storybook Bible. As soon as dinner is over, we read a chapter and put a corresponding ornament on a little tree. – shared by Annette
  • Start a “12 Days of Christmas” tradition with a different theme for each day. Have books to read, crafts to create, and movies or special foods to enjoy. – shared by Meggen L.
  • Light the advent wreath’s candle and read a Christmas book. – shared by Elizabeth

Does your family have any favorite holiday book traditions? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Lynn

says:

Lovely idea. I like that it can be done with library books.

Amanda

says:

This is a great idea!

Elizabeth

says:

We’re trying out this advent tradition for the first time this year. I’m excited!

Lexi

says:

I love this idea for advent! We actually have a giant red and green tub filled with Christmas books from the past few years. Every evening we go down to our basement and sit near our tree and let our kids choose a few books from the tub. Then we read with them right before bedtime. We LOVE reading our beautiful Christmas picture books!

Paige

says:

I would love to do this with my 9 year old. I also would love to have some ideas that aren’t picture books but not too long so that they can be read each day without reading for hours on end :o) We have a yearly tradition of reading a series of advent books by Arnold Ytreeide. He has a new one out this year called Ishtar’s Odyssey and I’m so excited to add another book to our yearly tradition. We also have an advent wreath that we light the candles on each day of advent.

If anyone has anymore book lists especially if they aren’t picture books but not too long either I would love to hear then.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Paige,
I’m not sure what you consider “not too long”, but since you mentioned Arnold Ytreeide’s books, I think these would be okay. My kids really enjoyed The BEST Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, and (if it’s isn’t too scary, my kids were fine with it) A Christmas Carole by Charles Dickens.

Katharine Neill

says:

That is a great idea! We love books!

Linda

says:

I keep all of my Christmas books in a box, usually in the attic. After Thanksgiving I bring them down and display them in the living room. Then, we pick and read them together throughout the month. This will be the third year, and I love it. I was inspired by a friend who displayed her books that way.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Linda,
I love the idea that the Christmas books become part of the Christmas decor! I love decorating with beautiful books anyway (I turn books I find interesting or attractive face our on my shelves all the time!). Thank you for sharing this idea.

Shannon Curran

says:

I adore this idea! We will definitely be doing this. What a wonderful way to connect and slow down during the busiest time of year. Thank you for the great idea!

Em

says:

Love this idea!

Lisa Law

says:

I love this idea! We will be adding this to our Christmas traditions this year.

Charlie

says:

Great idea! Thanks for all that you do.

Katey Howes

says:

What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays as a family! Thanks for the ideas!

Emma

says:

I love this idea! It’s the perfect way to countdown to Christmas – and add to your book collection, too!

Aubrey

says:

Great idea!

Char

says:

Love this idea and I know my children will too! Read-aloud time always seems to get pushed out of the schedule at our house, but having just one book wrapped for each day will make it more likely to happen. Can’t wait to go the library next week! Thanks for your great blog posts (and the great curriculum)!

Gail

says:

This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time! I’ve been thinking of ways to make this Christmas extra special and I know our kids will absolutely LOVE this!!! I can’t wait to just cuddle on the couch and open up a book. I was able to order almost ALL of these books from our library. Thank you SOOO much!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Gail,
You are welcome! I hope your Christmas season is full of warm, fuzzy, memory-making moments!

Karen

says:

Love this idea!!!!! I think I have enough books. Now to find time to do the wrapping
….

Jessica Stephens

says:

I LOVE this idea! What a fun and exciting way to spend time with family!!!

Robyn

says:

My boys are 10 and 13…we have donated most of our picture books at this point as the boys are in chapter books now. But I will occasionally check out picture books from the library, and the boys love to read them. I am thinking of checking out 26 library picture books and wrapping them for advent. With a 3 week check out period and a 2 week renewal period, it should work! Thanks for the idea!

Lynn

says:

As a child, my parents kept and added to a box of holiday books that was brought out a few weeks before Christmas and then put away soon after Christmas. I kept that tradition with my children, starting with cardboard baby books, then picture books and eventually juvenile novels about the holidays. Even last year, my youngest, now 18, was eager to get out and reread the Christmas books soon after Thanksgiving. Each child has their own favorites that have been read over and over.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lynn,
This is lovely! I know what you mean about older kids loving to revisit the stories. I read The BEST Christmas Pageant Ever with my younger children last year, and my then 18 and 15 year olds ended up enjoying it just as much even though I had read the book aloud to them years before.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful family tradition.

Renee Gould

says:

Marie…

I always read your blogs and enjoy them so much! I never have written in; but had to this time. My kids will LOVE this! I literally purchased almost every book you published in a previous blog about Renee’s favorite poem books. Seriously, they are my kids favorites! It has gotten them very interested in poetry.

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful ideas! This is genius:-)

Have a great holiday!
Renee
PS..I am a faithful customer of AAR and AAS:-)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Renee,
Thank you for taking the time to comment! It’s great to hear that Marie’s poetry books were such a big hit. I hope that you find the Christmas picture books to be equally loved.

Renée,

I’m thrilled that your kids loved the poetry books! Poetry is near and dear to my heart, and it’s always gratifying to know kids still respond to it — they just need to be exposed to it. :) Happy reading!

the other Renée from AALP :)

Sherry

says:

So far, we haven’t started many Christmas traditions, unless you count putting up the tree and listening to Christmas music. This looks like a fun tradition, I would just be afraid we wouldn’t be home often enough to actually carry through with it.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sherry,
Try to think of how you could make it work. You don’t have to read the stories every night right before bed. You could do them every morning, or before naptime, or whatever works for your individual family. If you are away from home overnight, you could even take a book with you for each day you will be gone.

Of course, you don’t have to do this, but one of my biggest regrets with my older children was not establishing holiday traditions when they were very young. We did get around to getting traditions going, but my older kids missed out on them for many years. So, I recommend to try to establish some sort of tradition this Christmas season.

Becca

says:

OMG, what a nifty idea!!!! There are many nights when I forget about having a bedtime story read and this is a great way to remember. I am definitely going to do this this year and make it a new tradition. Thank you so much for the idea! :D

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Becca!

Magela Gonzalez

says:

What a beautiful tradition. I can’t wait to do this with my family.

Kay

says:

My user name on pinterest is hpstour. I gave the wrong one in my entry.

Kay Beams

says:

The best tradition is Elf on A Shelf! My grandson named his Nash. I just love that name. When I’m there for Thanksgiving, my grandson just had to be at home on Thanksgiving night, because that was when Nash came out. My grandson was so excited when it was time for Nash to come. My daughter thinks of some really cute ways to hide Nash each night. Love it! I’m not sure he will be so excited about Nash this year as he is getting older–but maybe. I really like the idea above–one book to share reading for each day before Christmas. I need a list of books for a third grader!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

What a cute tradition, Kay. Thanks for telling us all about Nash!

I don’t do daily picture books with my kids, but I do a Christmas chapter book each year with them. My younger kids were 11, 9, and 7 last year and they loved The BEST Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.

I am a grandma to 4, I see my granddaughter every other weekend and always read to her. We sit in my grandma rocker and read and this weekend we even sat in it and listened to Burl Ives singing the Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer CD and made a video of it & I posted it on just her Mommy’s (my daughter’s) Facebook so she can let my granddaughter pull it up and look at it anytime! She loves me to read to her! This is a great idea!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Barbara,
I want to be a grandma just like you. My kids sometimes ask why I still have so many preschool books and such, when my youngest is almost 9, but it’s because my I’m going to be the grandma with all the wonderful BOOKS!

Thank you for sharing this lovely memory you and your granddaughter made.

Sarah McKendree

says:

What a wonderful idea! We already read books as a family, but this would be a great new tradition to start for Christmas!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you are excited by the idea, Sarah!

Jenn Khurshid

says:

I love, love this idea! Thank you for sharing.

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