By: Lisa Schmidt, Director of Youth Faith Formation
One of the best pieces of advice I received as a new mom was to keep good, beautiful, and true storybooks around the house for my children. I heeded that advice and given Advent is my favorite liturgical season, I keep having to find bigger baskets to store all the Advent books!
Advent is an excellent time to slow down and savor the gift of story with children. There are so many wonderful stories of inspiration for children as they await Christmas. As the Advent season approaches, I’m pondering my family’s favorite books and sharing some below. What are your favorite Advent storybooks?
Day-by-Day Advent Countdown
Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas by Antonie Schneider: This is a great, short, daily read-aloud for the entire Advent season.
Good for Younger Children
The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola: Set to the words of the classic Christmas hymn of the same title. Beautifully illustrated with a copy of the music at the back of the book.
Little Star by Anthony DeStefano: A tale connecting the star atop the Christmas tree to the birth of Jesus.
The First Night by B.G. Hennessy: Simple, beautiful re-telling of the Christmas story.
A Small Miracle by Peter Collington: This story is told not through words but rather through 96 miniature pictures, each worth at least a thousand words.
Good for Upper-Elementary
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg: A lovely story about the origins of the candy cane.
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco: Poignant tale of family tradition set around Christmastime during the Great Depression.
The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park: This story follows a merchant and his son as they collect resin tears from trees, or myrrh, to sell at the market. At the market they find three men looking for an exceptional gift, and you might guess how this one ends. A neat aspect of this book is that it shows how myrrh is produced, harvested, and used.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski: A woodcarver who is always alone and never smiles. The book unpacks why through beautiful storytelling and illustrations.
Joy to the World by Tomie dePaola: This is three in one! The set includes The Night of Las Posadas, The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and The Legend of the Poinsettia. All three books are focused on the Christ child.
Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing by Amy Welborn: A wonderful story about sharing, comfort, generosity, and forgiveness through the lens of a long-standing Italian tradition.
Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde: Introduces readers to Saint Lucy, whose feast day the Church celebrates on December 13.
Saint Francis and the Nativity by Myrna Strasser: Explains the history of the nativity scene in a novel way.
Saint Nicholas: The Story of the Real Santa Claus by Mary Joslin: A retelling of the life of Saint Nicholas, whose life inspired the Christmas traditions of Santa Claus.
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepherd: A tale about generosity for the feast of Saint Nicholas. For the bakers out there, includes a recipe for baking your own Saint Nick cookies.
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan: Due to war and oppression, a story about a Russian family who hasn’t been able to attend church on Christmas. Illustrations done in egg tempera – a technique traditionally used in painting (writing) icons.
The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop: A tale about a king and queen and their daughter … who is becoming spoiled with gifts.
The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden: A longer storybook we read a bit at a time throughout the Advent season.
One Wintery Night by Ruth Bell Graham: A Christmas story told for the first time to a young boy, beginning with Creation and ending with the Resurrection.