For the last few months, I have been on the lookout for Christmas books whenever I visit my local thrift store. Along with my other advent calendar, I really wanted to count down the days to Christmas with books. The night before December 1st, my friend and I had a book wrapping party, and much to my horror, I discovered I was a couple books shy of 24. This, of course, wasn't the end of the world; I had about a million Christmas books from the library that I could have wrapped up, but instead I decided to splurge and buy a book I was desperately longing for. (More on that at the end of the post...)
Aaron and Max took turns selecting and unwrapping a book each morning. (On the off days, the other one got to hang up the picture on the other advent calendar.) This was definitely one of the highlights of the month. It brought a little excitement to every day.
And now, starting in the top left hand corner and working your way down, moving left to right (like you're reading a book), here are our 24 books to Christmas:
1. *Room For a Little One, Martin Waddell, illus. Jason Cockcroft
I love the soft illustrations and quiet text. One of my favorite picture books about the nativity.
2. Country Angel Christmas, Tomie dePaola
A sweet story about finding your own place and way to help, no matter how small you are.
3. Drummer Boy, Loren Long
I love the gentle rhythm of the drummer boy's song.
4. *Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, Robert E. Barry
I love this book! I may or may not have pushed for this to be opened at the beginning of December so we could spend the whole month enjoying it. A cute story about a tree that is perpetually too tall, and the top continues to be cut off and handed down to someone smaller.
5. Three Snow Bears, Jan Brett
While it doesn't have anything to do with Christmas, this retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears features plenty of snow to make it worthy of the season.
6. The Night Before Christmas
I still own my copy of this book, which I received for my very first Christmas in 1985.
7. *Bear Stays Up For Christmas, Karma Wilson, illus. Jane Chapman
If you're acquainted with the other Bear books, you will not want to miss this Christmas story where Bear fights off hibernation so he can spend Christmas with his friends.
8. The Stable Where Jesus Was Born, Rhonda Gowler Greene, illus. Susan Gaber
A nice rhyme to go with the nativity story.
9. The Christmas Story, Carol Heyer
10. Henry and Mudge and a Very Merry Christmas, Cynthia Rylant
We love Henry and Mudge, so adding Christmas only makes them better.
11. The Littlest Christmas Elf, Nancy Buss, illus. Terri Super
I received this when I was four years old in a preschool gift exchange, but then it was tragically lost. I liked it so much that my mom bought a replacement copy and re-inscribed the name of the little boy who gave it to me.
12. Max's Christmas, Rosemary Wells
I love Max and Ruby, but I'll be completely honest: I will replace this one as soon as possible. It's kind of dumb.
13. *Gingerbread Baby, Jan Brett
The gingerbread baby gets chased all over the village until he finds a gingerbread house just perfect for him. You can't go wrong with Jan Brett's illustrations. Love her.
14. *Snowmen at Christmas, Caralyn Buehner, illus. Mark Buehner
Imaginative and creative and easily puts you in a holiday mood.
15. *Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear!, Don and Audrey Wood
If you love The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, then I think you'll love this one just as much. Instead of the sly, manipulative ending of the first, this one has a very sweet ending.
16. Christmas Mouse, Vivian French and Ernest's Special Christmas, Laura T. Barnes
Both of these are kind of lame. I was hoping by wrapping them up together, they would add up to something not as lame. I don't think it worked.
17. *The Christmas Train, Thomas S. Monson, illus. Dan Burr
My one splurge this year. See the end of the list for more of my thoughts.
18. The Bears' Christmas, Stan and Jan Berenstain
Oh, Papa Bear! This book is just full of silly and ridiculous moments and is sure to get a few laughs. (And bonus: it's a great one if you have an early reader in your house.)
19. Carl's Christmas, Alexandra Day
In this book, Carl doesn't have to watch the baby, so he goes out for some fun of his own.
20. The Crippled Lamb, Max Lucado
A sweet Christmas story.
21. A Wish to be a Christmas Tree, Colleen Monroe
A great story about the importance of helping everyone feel loved.
22. Olive, the Other Reindeer, J. Otto Seibold
Convinced that she is a reindeer, Olive (a dog) helps Santa on Christmas Eve.
23. I Spy Little Christmas, Jean Marzollo, illus. Walter Wick
My boys love the I Spy books, and this simplified one is perfect for them at their current ages.
24. The Cheerios Christmas Play Book, Lee Wade
Not a Christmas classic, but good for entertaining small fingers nonetheless.
So The Christmas Train...I can't remember the first time I heard President Thomas S. Monson share his boyhood story of receiving a beautiful electric train for Christmas but then still being greedy when it came time to take a little windup train to a boy down the street, but I have loved it for awhile now. So when I saw that it was turned into a picture book this year, I could think of little else. I wanted it so much. When I finally had a chance to look at it, I wanted it even more. The illustrations are beautiful, and the text is simple and short. Some similar books to this one (think Christmas Oranges or A Christmas Dress For Ellen) have really lengthy texts, but this one involved no more than a few lines per page. When we read it the first time, Aaron thought that Tommy should get to take one of the cars from the neighbor boys trains because "he didn't have one like that," but then I think he caught the message of the joy of giving. I'm so glad we own a copy of it now.
If you didn't get a chance to read any of these this year, be sure to check them out next Christmas!
*indicates a favorite in the Johnson household