best Advent books to read aloud

Does Christmas time take your breath away – with noise and hurry?  In a culture that celebrates more, Advent readings can seem like an additional task during an over-scheduled season. Here is a list of Advent books providing a range of moments and conversations intended to not add to your Christmas schedule, but connect the pieces, yes, even those pieces of what you are doing with that Elf on the Shelf.

The Best Daily Advent Books for Kids and Families

Advent is the Christian Church’s Holy Season of Waiting for the Coming of Jesus. Traditionally, while the Lenten Season is viewed as a journey, Advent is about creating space, making room for Jesus. Choosing daily Advent readings that meet your family’s particular rhythm shapes a season that fills up quickly. Plus, it creates space for reflection amidst noise and activity.

Daily Reflection Advent Books for Kids and Families

1. Countdown to Christmas (Pawlitz and Vagreti, Concordia Publishing House, 2017)

A daily Advent book and calendar in one, there are 26 daily devotions with Bible verses, activities and prayers. At the end of each reading time, children get to flip the book over and lift-the-flap on the Advent calendar on the back.

2. A Nest for the Savior: An Interactive Christmas Tradition (Zayas and Sessa, Antique at Heart Press, 2018)

Perfect for preschoolers and early-elementary, with this daily Advent story/activity book, children help Sadie the Sparrow build a nest for Jesus, after finding the manger empty. Children can do the activity all at once, or over 12 days during Advent.

3. The Advent Book (Stockman, Crossway Books, 2003)

Author Shauna Niequist promotes this beautiful board book as her favorite daily Advent book to read-aloud with her family. Each reading has a door that you open into a different picture of the Christmas story.

4. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas

Now a classic, Ann Voskamp’s beautifully illustrated book takes kids and families through the tradition of decorating a Jesse Tree, a ritual that connects the Christmas story with stories of the Old Testament. While the text in this daily Advent book can be a bit overwhelming for preschoolers and young elementary-aged children, the Jesse Tree tradition is an interactive activity, children will love to engage.

5. The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent (Voskamp, Tyndale House Publishers, 2017)

Ann Voskamp takes the daily Advent reading another step in this daily Advent book  for kids and families with a pop-up Jesse Tree. A book, as well as a keepsake, The Wonder of the Greatest Gift provides everything needed for both daily Advent readings and the Jesse Tree tradition.

The Advent Storybook

6. The Advent Storybook (Richie and Dale, David C. Cook Publishers, 2018)

Intended for the 4-8-year-old age range, this daily Advent book for kids and families focuses on Old Testament stories leading up to the Coming of Jesus. Describing this Advent journey as “From Creation Dawn to Christmas Morning,” this daily Advent book gives children a wider experience in Biblical learning.

7. The ADVENTure of Christmas (Whelchel, Multnomah, 2004)

Lisa Whelchel, a homeschooling Mom (and previously, Blair on The Facts of Life!) gives 24 daily Advent readings that describe the deeper meaning behind Christmas traditions. Whelchel’s focus in this daily advent book for kids and families is not on adding more doing, but in looking into our activities and finding Advent truth.

Fun Advent Books for Kids

These books can provide daily read-alouds that are not overtly spiritual. Instead, they offer stories of other families, children, and animals, waiting for and experiencing the joy of Christmas. For older children or those who feel over-familiar with the Christmas story, these books, when used as daily Advent readings,  provide a deep connection through a story to Christmas and each other.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Robinson, Mass Market Paperback, 1988)

Remember when your classroom teacher first read you this classic? The Dreadful Herdman family takes over the Church Christmas Pageant and nothing is ever the same. This is a one-of-a-kind, irreverent, laugh out loud chapter book that your family of all ages will delight in this Advent season. At the same time, it reminds us all of who Christmas is meant for (everyone.) Note: There is also a picture book edition if that better suits your family.

9. Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas (L’Engle, Dell Young Yearling, 1987)

Favorite author Madeline L’Engle introduces readers to the Christmas traditions of the Austin Family, as told from the perspective of seven-year-old Vicky Austin. Each of the days leading up until Christmas, the Austins have a different Advent tradition. Your family will not miss how simple and homemade each of their traditions is, and how much meaning the children find in them. This is a favorite story as Christmas Eve brings not just the culmination of Advent. But it also brings a new baby to the bustling, chaotic, loving Austin clan.

10. The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits (Stark and Eriksson, Floris Books, 2014)

In the Swedish tradition, a tomte, mischievous spirit, brings Christmas presents to the children who leave porridge out the night before to thank him. This whimsical picture book is divided into 25 chapters. It tells a story of woodland animals, a grumpy and reluctant tomte and a big misunderstanding. With peaceful pictures and text, this daily Advent picture book provides gentle anticipation for a storytime all throughout the season.

Advent is a time of waiting and creating space. Don’t fill up the season with more hurry and more tasks, even spiritual tasks! Consider carefully what form of daily Advent reading would work with your family’s rhythm. Connect the joyful activities of Christmastime with the deeper meaning of Advent.

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