Growing up, I thought there was only one kind of Advent calendar — the chocolate kind. But with my own little ones, we’ve added on a few extra traditions for the days leading up to Christmas. (You can check out the Christmas tree ornaments we made here!) One of which is our Book Advent Calendar — a family favourite!

Every year, I individually wrap our collection of children’s Christmas books. Then, every day from December 1st until December 24, the kids open one.

Not only does this help get them excited about reading, but it’s also a great countdown tool for Christmas day. (And allows them to open a few presents in advance — meaning less temptation to peek at the actual gifts!)

Pile of wrapped children's books for advent book calendar

Here’s how to create your own advent book calendar:

1.

Pick out the books

The very first year I wrapped books, I only had 6 or 7 Christmas/winter themed reads. So instead of starting December 1st, I started December 17th. This was still a ton of fun for the week leading up to Christmas — so if you don’t have 24 books to start with, that’s okay too.

Over the past five years, I’ve slowly added to and accumulated more Christmas books. I tried to keep an eye out for Amazon deals / any sales at local bookstores. Now, I have enough seasonal books to wrap one for each day leading up to Christmas.

Tips if you don’t have enough books:

  • Try the library! Library books work fine for the advent calendar! Just be sure to keep track of their due date so you know what day you need to open them by. 😉
  • Start later in the month. Just like I mentioned above, you don’t have to start December 1. A week of books leading up to Christmas Eve is fun for the kids too!
  • Mix in a few year-round family favorites. Part of the fun is just getting to open a present each night. If you don’t have enough Christmas books, intersperse what you have with some of their regular bedtime classics.

2.

Wrap them individually

This is a really special part of this book calendar for me — wrapping up each of the books, knowing how excited the kids will be when they see the pile. I usually wrap the gifts in brown paper packaging (tied up with string) and write the date in big script font. It looks pretty and helps the kids visualize the countdown.

You could also choose to wrap them in fun holiday wrapping and place a large sticker on it with the date. Or simply wrap all twenty-four without a date, and let the kids pick which wrapped book they’d like to open that day.

I wrap mine in advance (to help the little ones visualize how many days left until Christmas.) But if you’re using library books, you may not be able to do that. Another option is to have the new wrapped book “appear” under the tree each morning.

Wrapped advent book for December first

3.

Open them up!

Let the kids open one book every night (or morning) until Christmas Eve. Make it into a fun family activity — everyone reads together in their jammies, or have Christmas music playing in the background, etc.

We have a couple of advent activities in our family, so the kids alternate turns opening the gift each evening. After they’re open, we leave the books under the tree and they can read any of the opened ones at their leisure.

December first unwrapped book from advent calendar

4.

After Christmas, pack the books up!

We use the same books every year. To keep them feeling fun and fresh every December, I pack them away for the other eleven months. For an extra surprise, I try to throw one new book into the pile every year and cycle one out that may be too young for our growing readers.

And that’s it! An easy holiday tradition that is sure to bring memories and smiles for years to come.

Looking for some Christmas themed book ideas? Here are a few of our favourites:

(Contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Suggestion for children's book advent calendar: Dashing Through the Snow book

Dashing Through the Snow

by Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmermann

“Jingle Bells, Beaver yells, ‘Santa’s on his way!'” This is a fun book that is almost impossible to read through without singing. The illustrations are whimsical and the book is just an all-around good giggle for the kids.

You can find this book on Amazon, here!

Suggestion for children's book advent calendar: Merry Christmas Mom and Dad book

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad

by Mercer Mayer

Our family love the Little Critter book series, and this Christmas-y classic is no exception. In this book, Little Critter tries to be a big helper but things don’t always work out like he planned.

You can find this book on Amazon, here!

Suggestion for Children's Book Advent Calendar: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas book cover

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

by Dr. Seuss

We have a couple of Grinch books in our collection, but the Dr. Seuss original holds no comparison. The kids think this sneaky, green character is hilarious. A lot of the other books in our Christmas collection are paperbacks, but I purchased a beautiful hardcover copy of this one because I know it’ll be a family favourite around for years to come!

You can find this book on Amazon, here!

Suggestion for advent calendar: Who Is Coming to Our House children's book

Who Is Coming To Our House?

by Joseph Slate

This board book is a really lovely take on the Nativity — especially for your younger listeners. Animals are always a big hit in our family with the toddlers, and this book walks through the various animals preparing for the arrival of baby Jesus.

“‘Who is coming to our house?
Someone, someone,’ says Mouse.”


You can find this book on Amazon, here!

Don’t forget to share in the comments some of YOUR favourite advent traditions with the kids!

How to make a children's book advent calendar
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