Bonus: 12 Books of Christmas

We’ve been counting down to Christmas with some of our favorite picture books for the holiday. Check out this year’s choices, and follow us on Instagram or Facebook for upcoming countdowns and recommendations! Here are our 12 books of Christmas 2019

First Day

“On the first day of Christmas…” your friendly, neighborhood, book-loving podcast brings you the first of twelve of our favorite Christmas children’s books!

I begged Amanda to let me highlight this one, because it has been my favorite since my mom read it to us when I was little. It is such a sweet, touching story of a lonely mouse and how one act of completely selfless kindness on his part completely changes his life.

Also: Santa shows up! My kids also love it, which just goes to show how timeless a classic this book is.

Second Day

“On the second day of Christmas…” my library gave to me a wombat and an Australian Christmas Eve!
I vividly remember being fascinated by a book I read when I was younger about a girl in Australia, where it snows in July and is sweltering on Christmas! I love it when books are able to open up our eyes to parts of the world we may never get to experience for ourselves.
In its own way, this Christmas wombat does that for our kiddos- many of whom probably don’t even know what a wombat is, let alone that they live in Australia.
For those of you who already know and love “Diary of a Wombat,” this is the perfect Christmas companion to it. For everyone else, go check BOTH books out, because they are awesome.

Third Day

“On the third day of Christmas…”
The Snowman was first introduced to me as the film adaptation by my husband; and even then, it wasn’t until years later I discovered the movie is based on this book by Raymond Briggs.
We have adopted The Snowman as a family Christmas tradition, although the book doesn’t have anything particularly Christmasy about it. One of the things I love about it is that there are no words, just beautiful illustrations that alternate between small, graphic-novel-style sequencing pictures and beautiful, full-page illustrations.
A heads up for this book; the snowman does melt at the end. In separate interviews (not the book), Briggs makes a point that death is a part of life, and The Snowman is not grim or sad. It is instead a great conversation starter, and allows your children an opportunity to narrate the story themselves. My kids get lost in the artwork for long stretches of time.
Enjoy the original book, the movie, and all the adaptations that have come about throughout the years, including a board book version or several with words.

Fourth Day – Country Angel Christmas

“On the fourth day of Christmas…” my memories gave to me, another childhood favorite I want all to see!
Anyone familiar with Tomie dePaola work (Strega Nona anyone?!) will instantly recognize this as one of his.
I love this Christmas story so much, because it so naturally draws connections between St Nicholas and the story of the birth of Christ. For anyone else out there trying to walk that line between secular and sacred with their kids at Christmas time, this book is gold!
Bonus points that is is another one I remember my mom reading to us as kids, so I love sharing it with my own little crew now!

Fifth Day – Music Books

“On the fifth day of Christmas…” my musical self gave to me Christmas song books!
“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches. Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, hmm mmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmmm.”
It was happening… again.
I can never seem to remember the words to that song, in English or German. So years ago, I bought a book of classic Christmas songs with their lyrics!
Carols and music are so prominent this time of year and can really add a lot to your family’s traditions. Whether that’s standing around the piano belting it out, going door-to-door, or maybe singing in that Christmas party…lots of potential times you may want to know the actual words to the songs (a wassailing? Talk about poetic vocab building! Bonus!).
There has not been a single year these books don’t take a prominent perch on our piano for the month of December. I especially love the Finnish book; I would never know the song to sing while dancing around the tree or be able to connect my family to this half of our Joulu heritage as naturally without this book.
We went back and forth about whether or not to break into the picture book lineup with what are admittedly outliers. But, the more I think about it, the more I’m happy to suggest that you think about getting a music book for your family to enjoy this season, whether or not you have a musician in your household.

Sixth Day – The Nutcracker Comes to America

“On the sixth day of Christmas…” my library gave to me a journey back in time with the ballet! Have you ever wondered how it was that the Russian ballet The Nutcracker became so popular here in the United States…?
Yeah, I hadn’t either, hah! But as soon as I saw this book at our library a few weeks ago I immediately thought, “how DID it become such a widespread tradition here?” This book answered all the questions I never knew I had- did you know, for example, that The Nutcracker was staged for the first time in the US by some dancing brothers from Utah? And that it wasn’t performed here until the 1940s?
Neither did I! But now I do and so can you! Go look up The Nutcracker Comes to America and you can learn all this and more, too!

Seventh Day – Pocket’s Christmas Wish

“On the seventh day of Christmas…”
Have I ever told you I wish we had a library? Well, here I go. I wish we had a library. I’m visiting my parents, and we went to their library, dug out a (massive) pile of Christmas books, and took our favorites home. Pocket’s Christmas Wish has won a place in my heart, and I’ve already ordered it.
The lovely illustrations, the adorable bunny, the sweet message, and the great open conversation starters on every page make this book one we will treasure every year. My kids and I were all drawn to it, and I’m glad to add such a great story about the meaning and worth of Christmas giving.

Eighth Day – Christmas Tree Farm

“On the eighth day of Christmas…” my parent’s library gave to me, a book full of childhood memories.
Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell illustrated by Jill Weber takes me back to the days when my family and I went to the tree farm to get our tree every year. We hiked in the snow/cold, and then tagged the tree we loved. Then we bought an ornament each from the little cabin while enjoying hot cocoa while we waited for our tree to be chopped down.
Of all the many traditions we had around this time of year, this was the one that I remember most fondly. I cried the year they closed the tree farm.
We had planned to go to a tree farm this year with my kids, but we ended up chopping down a tree from my parent’s yard instead 😅 I decided that this book is the way to connect my children to my tradition until they can go to a tree farm themselves.
Ok enough about me; I love that this book gives the perspective of the tree farmers. Their work is depicted as a labor of love, which adds another dimension of warmth to this treasured tradition. The illustrations are gorgeous, with playful animals throughout the story.
There’s an educational side to this book as well. You can learn about measuring trees, the yearround process of growing trees, and there’s even a fact sheet on the last page.
I love this book for my own memories, but also as a fun way to talk with my children about how we get Christmas trees.

Ninth Day – The Christmas Crocodile

“On the ninth day of Christmas…” my kids’ favorite turned out to be: The Christmas Crocodile!
For the fourth year in a row, the most often-requested Christmas book in our home is this one right here. It has everything! Christmas ham! Crocodiles! A visiting aunt prone to fainting spells! Uncle Carbunkle!
The story is absolutely delightful, but once again, the illustrations steal the show for me, thanks to amazing illustrator David Small. If you are looking for an unexpected Christmas delight, then this is the book for you!

Tenth Day – Little Blue Truck’s Christmas

“On the tenth day of Christmas…” Little Blue Truck gave to me, a fun Christmas book about trees!
I first heard of Little Blue Truck from Sarah Wood (episode 07). I was excited to check it out, and the Christmas book does not disappoint. It lights up, which is a fun surprise, but it’s an overall cute story, adorable illustrations, and it has a nice message about giving. What more do you need in a Christmas book?

Eleventh Day – Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

“On the eleventh day of Christmas…” a little mouse named Mortimer learns a lesson from a little, tiny baby.

When Mortimer the mouse thinks he finds the perfect new home, he has roust the current occupants before he can make himself at home. He irreverently ousts the shepherds, the wise men, and yes, even poor baby Jesus, from their places of honor in the small stable he has claimed as his own, but they keep reappearing! The nerve!

I love Mortimer’s audacity, but also the way our kiddos can learn about this particular Christmas story right along with Mortimer the mouse, who does eventually learn just whose stable that really is.

Twelfth Day – Who is Coming to Our House?

“On the twelfth day of Christmas…” my Father gave to me…

This book captivated every kid aged 3-11 that I read this to for a church activity. We had rotating stations and I got to read Christmad stories to the children 🥰🎄 they all asked for this story, and they all LOVED it. And, I do, too!

The mouse says someone is coming to the stable, but doesn’t say who. Without doubting the little mouse, the animals react by jumping into action to prepare for the mystery guest. Finally we find that it’s Joseph and Mary coming to their house.

I talked with the kids about how they would react if someone said a guest was coming but didn’t say who, and how they would feel if Mary and Joseph came to their house. It’s such a fun and unique perspective.

Who is Coming to Our House is a perfect addition to your Christmas book collection. Thanks for following along with us on this countdown! We’ve had a lot of fun doing this, for sure.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

Be watching for our upcoming episode on religious texts in the home, coming right after Christmas!

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