For years I admired families across the internet as they created Christmas book advent calendar bundles; some would pull from books already on their shelves while others would scour thrift stores, bargain bins, and Amazon for just the right holiday titles for their book Advent calendar. As my son approaches 10-years-old, I realized quickly that the wide-eyed childhood wonder of the season would soon be a memory so I found myself seeking out magical moments to make the days special.
Over the course of several weeks, I compiled some titles that I wanted to share with him; heartfelt stories of compassion and giving and introductions to cultures and traditions of which he may not be familiar. Ultimately, I just wanted one more special thing to share with him since we truly enjoy our read-aloud time together. Here are the 25 books I chose for our Christmas book Advent calendar; I hope it inspires you and your young reader.
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Book Advent Day Nine – Foster The True Spirit of Christmas
I always like to let people know when a book or movie references the idea of not believing in Santa. The idea of Santa for some children is so real that the notion of him not existing hasn’t even crossed their minds. At the beginning of Patricia Polacco’s Welcome Comfort, the main character – who is in foster care – doesn’t believe that Santa is real. Ultimately, he does come to realize the magic of Christmas but I still think it’s important that parents are aware of the protagonist’s doubt before they begin reading the book to their children.
I do think Welcome Comfort would be the perfect book to read to a child who has just recently stopped believing in Santa Claus. The boy in the story actually becomes Santa, as he was chosen by the supporting character; the custodian at the school, who we discover was Santa previously. It’s a great message about keeping the spirit of Christmas alive inside of you. I would definitely recommend also reading The (Wonderful) Truth About Santa, to a child at this stage as well. It gives a beautiful account of the history of Santa Claus and why some parents choose to share the magic of Christmas in this way.
Give Back to the Community by Helping Foster Children in Need
There are quite a few things you could do as activities for this book. My first suggestion would be to use this book as a jumping-off point to begin a winter declutter and clear out. Go through old clothes and toys and donate them. If that’s just a lot to deal with right before the holidays, I highly recommend donating to your favorite charity.
One in particular that I recommend is Comfort Cases; an organization that puts together suitcases for children at risk who are entering the foster care system. Often if a child is removed from their home in an emergency situation, they’re given a trash bag to collect a few belongings. Comfort Cases provides suitcases with personal care items, pajamas, and a comfort item, like a stuffed animal, to help make a difficult and often scary transition just a little bit more comfortable for the child.
I wrote an article for Mom.com entitled, What to Know if You’re Adopting Through Foster Care where I interviewed one of the founders of Comfort Cases. If you’re looking to help out the community in this way, or want an activity to do upon reading Welcome Comfort, take a look at Comfort Cases wish list on Amazon.com.
Day Twenty-One of Book Advent – A Winter Solstice Family Night
Today is a very special day. It’s the longest night of the year and the shortest day. In the morning began the dough for our first rise of the Sunbread from Elisa Kleven’s book. I did a little bit of cleaning throughout the day in preparation for the coming festive days ahead. We then spent time shaping out our sunbread dough and getting it ready for the second rise. Once it was baked and cooled, I made some peppermint tea, just like the kind the farmer enjoyed in Dream Snow by Eric Carle. If you do get the Eric Carle book, Consider pairing this adorable book with the Dream Snow Pop-up Advent Calendar.
We ate the sunbread with butter and honey while drinking tea and reading Dream Snow aloud. We then went on to read the Sunbread book and finished with The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson. Be sure to preview this one before reading it to your children; it does reference ancient beliefs and rituals like sacrificing animals, etc… For a more gentle introduction to The Winter Solstice, this episode of Little Bear is great for younger children (and older ones as well) I always enjoy watching this show as it reminds me of when my now-adult kids were younger. The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper is another great book for younger children. It explains the winter solstice, poetically, so if your children sensitive to certain things, you may want to choose that one as an Advent calendar option.
Later in the evening, once all the adult siblings were home from work, the oldest built a fire in the backyard. We roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and the vegan adult child found a few sweet peppers and plant-based meatballs to roast. I’ll need to do better with my vegan solstice fire-pit planning next time.