One of our family’s favorite holiday traditions is reading a holiday book each night during the month of December. I read about this idea when my children were little and I was trying to sort out some meaningful holiday traditions we could begin. As a lover of children’s books, the idea of a Christmas book countdown drew me in right away. It’s simple, it doesn’t require a lot of preparation or supplies, and it brings the people in your family together each evening.
When we were starting out and didn’t have many holiday books, I would count how many books we had, count backward that many days from Christmas Eve, and that was the day we began on. Once we had 24 holiday books, we would begin our book reading on December 1st.
When our children were little my husband and I took turns reading each night, ending with my reading of Bear Stays Up for Christmas on December 23, and my husband reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. As the kids got older, we would all take a turn each night beginning with our youngest.
You can wrap the books, or not. It’s a personal preference and we never did. I keep my books in a holiday basket that comes out after Thanksgiving and gets put away after New Years. By not wrapping the books, this allowed my kids to read the books in the basket whenever they wanted. You could make it a rule that only the books that have been opened could be read: your tradition, your rules. You can also add fun touches such as notes that indicate how the book should be read, such as with hot chocolate or popcorn or with a special person.
Our books are a mix of hardcover and paperback. The Scholastic book order is a convenient way to pick up books inexpensively, as are bookstores after the holidays. I’ve noticed that big box stores don’t generally put holiday books on sale, so you may need to watch for a good price, or check Amazon. I found that it’s helpful to mention to family members that you are starting a Christmas book countdown. Children’s books make a nice family gift and help increase your collection.
We did not switch to chapter books or move away from this tradition as our children got older. I know that when they were in high school it was harder to get my older son to participate in the book reading. When it became too much of a conflict, we just excused him from it. My children aren’t home now during the month of December but I still put the book basket out. Every once in a while I’ll pull out a book and read it myself, or out loud to the dog. Sometimes all you need is a captive audience.
Some of our favorite books are:
We have a wide range of books. Some are religious, some are rhyming, some are classics, and some are just cute. Choose books based on the likes and interests of your family. The goal is to create some calm in a time of year that can feel chaotic and harried.
* This post contains affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. (Learn more here)
Join the Email List
Subscribe to get my latest content by email, and I'll send you FIVE tips for when you feel overwhelmed: what to do when you don't know where to start on any project.