I’ve been creating a book advent calendar for my children since my eldest was a toddler. It started out because I wanted a toddler advent calendar that wasn’t just chocolate (don’t worry, they have one of those now too). This will be my 4th year creating a Christmas book advent calendar so I thought I would share my tips and ideas. I’ve also included 24 Christmas story books to give you some ideas to get you started.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I may make a small commission, this does not affect the price you pay. Books marked with a * are books I have been sent in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Why create a book advent calendar for your child?
A children’s book advent calendar is a tradition that my girls love and one that I hope they will look back on when they are grown up. From the first time, I did one with my eldest when she was just a few months short of 2 years old she loved the ritual of unwrapping a book each night to read together. Even now at 5 years old I think this is one of the best advent calendars to do with her.
We’ve always tried to encourage our girls to love books and so far it seems to be working. They love bedtime stories and I can’t wait to start ours again this year. There’s nothing better than the excitement each morning when my eldest remembers there is a new book waiting for her. We also have an elf on the shelf and a nativity scene that we build up over advent for them too. These traditions together are a part of Christmas with kids that I love. I love starting traditions with them and this is a great kids advent calendar to do.
How to create a book advent calendar
If you are wondering how to make an advent calendar, in particular, a book advent calendar then here is my top tips for making the experience stress free and enjoyable.
Get organised early. Start thinking about what books you will include now. At first 24 Christmas picture books can sound expensive but I have some ideas for keeping the cost down.
Start by looking at your bookshelves. Do you have any Christmas or winter children’s books? We start with winter books initially and introduce the Christmas books a little later in the month.
Visit your local library. We can borrow up to 20 books and they can be renewed online a few times. Start now as by December all the Christmas books will be checked out by others.
Have a look in your local charity shops or car boot sales. You can often find really cheap children’s books.
Try Amazon or The Book People as you can often find some pretty good deals on Children’s book.
Ask around your friends and family. Perhaps someone else is thinking of doing one too and you could swap some of the books part way through the month.
Reuse some of the books part way through the month if your children and very young and unlikely to care. My youngest is 2 and she loves reading some books time and time again.
Once you have your books, store them all together so your never hunting round at 10 pm for tomorrows book. The first year I did this I wrapped all 24 books in advance and stored them together. I’ve seen lovely photos of piles of wrapped books waiting to be opened but this will never work with young children in my opinion. The temptation to unwrap them all at once will be too much for a toddler or preschool child.
The second year I did a book advent calendar I bought half a meter of Christmas fabric and some red ribbon. This fabric gets reused each day and in fact each year so it is more cost and environmentally friendly than wrapping paper.
Set an alarm on your phone for after your children have gone to bed each night to sort out the next book. I select a book from the box, wrap it with the fabric and ribbon and put it somewhere the girls will find it the next morning. Once the Christmas tree is up it’s nice to put it under the tree.
On December 1st, enjoy this new tradition with your child. If it’s a short book we may read it first thing if time allows. Either way, at bedtime we’ll read the book together.
Children’s Christmas books to include in a book advent calendar
There are so many great Christmas books for kids but these are my absolute favourites. Some of them we’ve had for years and a few are new to us this year.
We wish you a Merry Christmas
Toddlers love a noisy book and this one is perfect for Christmas. Simple, bright illustrations with a simple story about Christmas Eve that finishes with the words to we wish you a Merry Christmas. My youngest especially loves pressing the buttons and listening to the sounds. This one is no longer available but this one looks very similar.
Twas the night before Christmas, A ladybird Noisy book
We always read this classic book every Christmas Eve when I was growing up and I have continued the tradition with my girls. As such this is always book number 24 in our book advent calendar. The language of this classic rhyming story may be a little outdated now but it’s such a lovely story to read on Christmas Eve. My girls love noisy books so this is a great version of this classic.
Ruby red shoes goes to London, Kate Knapp *
This is a really beautifully illustrated book for slightly older children. My year 1 (5-year-old) daughter is just the right age as the story is slightly on the longer side for young children. Ruby red shoes is a white hare who is on holiday visiting family with her grandmother in London. The book is a great introduction to London and all the important sites. Towards the end of the book, it snows and the little hares have lots of winter fun. I adore the illustrations in this book as does my 5 year old.
Christmas magic, Melanie Joyce, Annabel Spencely
This is a book I picked up years ago in The Works. It’s a cute little book about a girl getting ready for Christmas. My girls love this one. The illustrations are lovely, the story is written in a rhyme that flows really well and it’s full of ideas for things to do with kids at Christmas.
Usborne noisy touchy-feely Santa, Janet Samuel
Another great noisy book. This one is about Santa on Christmas Eve and is filled with Christmas spirit. Each page has soft and sparkly elements. Each page also included prompts for pressing the noisy buttons where sound effects are played like boots crunching on snow.
Mog’s Christmas Calamity
Do you remember the Sainsburys Christmas advert a few years back featuring Mog the forgetful cat? Well, this is the Judith Kerr book it is based on which was written to raise money for Save the children. It’s a heartwarming tale of a community pulling together after the Thomas family home has a fire on Christmas day. Available from Amazon in a bundle with Mog’s Christmas, another great children’s Christmas book.
The Snowman, Raymon Briggs
Another classic that I have been reading since I was a child. It wouldn’t be Christmas without The Snowman. I love watching the animation with my girls now and we’ve been fortunate enough to see the animation with a live orchestra last Christmas (and we’ll be reviewing it again this December, I can’t wait). There are no words in this book but the illustrations are beautiful and there are lots of them in a story board format so we enjoy looking at the pictures and talking about what is going on. Great for young children.
I love you Father Christmas, Giles Andreae, Emma Dodd
I love books by this duo and this book is no exception. It’s possibly one of my favourite Christmas books. The illustrations are bright and fun and the story is written in rhyme that just flows off the tongue. A great book to read near to Christmas as it’s all about why the little boy loves Father Christmas and it’s another great book for building festive excitement.
Usbourne touchy-feely The nativity, Fiona Watt & Rachel Well
A great book for introducing the nativity to young children. Like the much loved “that’s not my…” series, this book has parts of each page that have different textures for your little one to touch. The illustrations are bright, simple and appealing to young children.
Dear Santa, Rod Campbell
From the author of Dear Zoo comes a very similar Christmas book. I find toddlers love lift the flap books so this is perfect. I know some people don’t like this book as it suggests paints are too messy and instruments are too noisy and whilst I disagree and try to encourage my kids to be creative, we still love this book. We’ll often just say no it’s not. I mean it also says balls are too bouncy so I don’t think the book is meant to discourage creativity. Will Santa bring the perfect present in the end?
Make & play Christmas, Joey Chou *
This is a really fun Christmas book which includes 20 play pieces, words to a few Christmas songs and some simple and fun Christmas activities like making paper chains and reindeer hand and feet prints. The illustrations are cute and colourful.
The boy and the bear, Tracey Corderoy & Sarah Massini *
This is the story of a boy who becomes best friends with a bear. The book starts in the summer and works through the seasons and we all know what happens to bears in winter. The boy misses the bear all winter but of course, spring soon comes around again and their friendship picks up where it left of. Another beautifully illustrated book about an unlikely friendship.
Little Robin red vest, Jan Fearnley *
Another sweet book with beautiful winter illustrations. This one is also a great book to teach children about kindness and the spirit of giving especially at Christmas. Little Robin has 7 vests and it is 7 days until Christmas. Each day he heads out in a new vest but each day he finds another cold creature in the snow so he gives them his vest. By Christmas Eve he’s the one all cold with no vests left. Fortunately, he is picked up by Father Christmas and taken back to the North Pole where Mrs Claus knits him a special red vest since he’s been such a kind bird.
Winnie and Wilbur The Santa surprise, Laura Owen, Korky Paul *
We love Winnie and Wilbur and this book is another fantastic tale. We’ve just started reading chapter books with our 5 year old and this is a great first chapter book. It includes plenty of colourful illustrations alongside the story. Winnie and Wilbur are getting ready for Christmas but they are wondering who brings Santa a present? But what do you buy Santa? Of course, the book is filled with lots of classic Winnie and Wilbur chaos and madness. Buy it now from Amazon.
Santa’s wonderful workshop, Elys Dolan *
This is a laugh out loud kind of book that your kids will love. In it we go behind the scenes of a year at the North Pole and exactly how Santa gets all those toys ready to deliver on Christmas eve. The pictures are colourful and detailed and there are lots of funny things to comment on and talk about with your child. Available to buy now.
The twelve days of Christmas, Brian Wildsmith *
This colourful book is full of illustrations with a nostalgic feel that perfectly accompany the words to the classic Christmas song. A lovely book to read in the run up to Christmas. Available to buy here.
Winnie and Wilbur meet Santa, Laura Owen, Korky Paul
Another great seasonal Winnie and Wilbur. Winnie is preparing for Christmas but on Christmas Eve, Santa gets stuck in the chimney and Winnie needs to help him deliver all the gifts in time. This lovely book has the usual colourful and detailed illustrations and is packed with funny antics like crashing into cakes and getting tangled in fairy light. I know that we are going to enjoy reading this book each December for many years to come.
The Jolly Christmas Postman, Janet & Allan Ahlberg
I always wanted a copy of this book when I was a child. I think it’s the novelty of envelopes in the book that intrigues children so much. It’s Christmas Eve and the postman is delivering letters to lots of classic fairy tale characters. The envelopes contain puzzles, games, a mini book and more. It’s such a magical book that I love reading to my kids.
Sammy Claws The Christmas cat, Lucy Rowland & Paula Bowles *
This is a really fun and slightly different to your usual Christmas stories. In this book, two villains are plotting to rob Santa. Can Sammy Claws find a way to save Christmas? I love the illustrations in this book, so cute and colourful. The story is written in rhyme which makes it a pleasure to read. Available to buy now.
The Gruffalo’s child, Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
A classic winter’s tale. We love The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s child. The Gruffalo’s child is particularly suitable as it’s set on a snowy day. If your kids love The Gruffalo, they’re sure to love this wintery follow up. Stickman would be another good one to include.
Walking in a winter wonderland, Tim Hopgood
This is another beautifully illustrated book based on the classic song Walking in a winter wonderland by Peggy Lee. There is also an accompanying CD with a recording of the song as well as a read through of the book and an interactive listening game. The illustrations are colourful and inviting for young children. A beautiful book that both my girls adore. Available to buy here.
Silent night, Lara Hawthorne *
This book is another one that is an illustrated version of a classic Christmas carol. The illustrations are lovely and rich with detail and I enjoy reading this classic carol. A perfect festive book for the advent period.
Dot in the snow, Corrine Averiss, Fiona Woodcock
Another winter tale with beautiful and enchanting illustrations. Miki (a polar bear) just wants to play but it’s mum is too busy. So Miki sets off to find someone to play with. That’s when it discovers “the dot”. Miki and Dot have lots of fun together exploring the snowy land before going their separate ways to be reunited with their mums. A sweet little story about friendship. Buy now from Amazon.
Winter, Ailie Busby
We have all of the books in this series and I recommend them all the time in my book roundups and for good reason. This board book is a great introduction to winter and all the fun things to do with little ones. The illustrations are cute and colourful too. Winter is available to buy now.
Where’s Santa Claus, Ingela P Arrhenius *
We’ve had a couple of these gorgeous books before. This is the Christmas version in a series of gorgeous felt lift the flap books. The illustrations are bright and bold and the text simple. Just like all the books in this series it finishes with a “Where are you?” page with a mirror. My toddler loves this book already and the book always ends with her shouts of “again, again!” Available to buy here.
Have I inspired you to create a book advent calendar this December? If you still want more inspiration for books to include I also have a post on Winter picture books.
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Disclosure: I was sent the books marked with * free for review. All photos, thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through one of them I may make a small commission, this does not affect the price you pay.