Monday, February 1, 2016

2015 Advent Books: Picture-Book-a-Day, Family Read-Alouds, and Poetry

One big post on our Advent reading! We'll hope the insane number of Amazon links doesn't crash anyone's computer.

In Advent 2015, First Son turned 12, First Daughter was 9, Second Daughter was 7, Second Son was 5. I almost skipped our picture-book-a-day tradition, but Kansas Dad reminded me our children don't open many presents from us at Christmas, so I decided to wrap them again, at least for one more year.

I've indicated which books are from the library and which we own. I schedule the library books early so they can be returned before Christmas. If you are willing and able to wait a few years, is a fabulous source for Christmas picture books. I've received many lovely copies over the years.

We have a solid supply of books that return (usually on a three year cycle because I've found so many Christmas picture books I love) but I always like to include some new ones. I've tried to mark those as well.

Through the Animals' Eyes: A Story of the First Christmas by Christopher Wormell - a beautiful book! (library)

Pedro: The Angel of Olvera Street written and illustrated by Leo Politi is a simple story, but one that entranced the children. (library, new to us)

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry is one of my favorites. Oh, how I love this silly little book! I keep thinking I'll buy a copy of our own, but so far I haven't been able to justify it...(library)

B Is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner and illustrated by Elisa Kleven is just wonderful. I like the old cover better than the new one, but am very glad to see it back in print. (library)

The Christmas Coat by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Sylvie Wickstrom, is about sibling rivalry and making amends. I think it's merely adequate, but First Daughter loves it. (library, new to us)

The Christmas Knight by Jane Louise Curry, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, is a medieval tale of a Christmas miracle. The kids love it when the haughty receive their due. (library)

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer, illustrated by Chris Ellison, is the perfect book to introduce St. Nicholas to young children. It's still my favorite. (own)

Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin - a 2015 title that delighted the children. (library, new to us)

A Child Is Born by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrations by Floyd Cooper, is a nativity story with limited text but beautiful illustrations of a black holy family. (library, new to us)

Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo, pictures by Nancy Carpenter, is based on the true story of the Flying Santa Service. First Daughter loved this story, too. (library, new to us)

A Christmas Wish for Corduroy by B. G. Hennessy, with pictures by Jody Wheeler, is a 2014 title based on the characters created by Don Freeman. Second Son especially enjoyed this one and the sweet ending connecting it to the original book. (library, new to us)

Good King Wenceslas by John Mason Neale, with illustrations by Christopher Manson, is one of many versions of this carol, but one of my favorites. (library)

Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root, is a fun story about Christmas trees and how they grow. I particularly like the illustrations. (library, new to us)

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie de Paola. I really only like a few of the de Paola Christmas books but I schedule at least one every year. This is one of his sweetest. (own)

This Is the Star by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Gary Blythe, is a lovely retelling of the Nativity story. (received on

Silent Night (Sing and Read Storybook) by Darcy May has lovely illustrations for the song, perfect for the littlest ones. (received on, new to us)

Peter Spier's Christmas!, wordless but delightful. (own)

The Huron Carol by Jean De Brebreuf, illustrated by Frances Tyrrell, which includes beautiful illustrations for this carol written to share the Nativity story with Native Americans at a complicated time in history. We listened to the carol, too. (own)

The Christmas Story by Jane Werner, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, is another incredibly sweet Nativity story for young children. Simple and beautiful. (received on

Stephen's Feast by Jean Richardson, illustrated by Alice Englander, is a book I requested from inter-library loan and loved enough to purchase a used copy of our own. It's a retelling of King Wenceslas's famous foray to the home of a poor man. (I must warn you, Second Son insisted this book made him hungry every time we read it.) (own, new to us)

The Hat by Jan Brett is a fun story. I try to include at least one Brett book each year. (own)

Bethlehem with words from the Bible, stunningly illustrated by Fiona French in her stained glass style. (own)

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Meyer, a family classic. (own)

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, the kind of book your children can grow into. (own)

The Miracle of St. Nicholas by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Judith Brown, a story of an ordinary-yet-extraordinary miracle at a church named for St. Nicholas (rather than a story of the saint himself). (own)

The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger, which enthralled the girls this year. (own)

Book Basket Books

We have a picture book basket which I fill with a selection of books each week and let Second Daughter and Second Son choose one each school day for me to read aloud to them. There were a few books this year I wanted to be sure they had the opportunity to enjoy, so I added an Advent book to the book basket each week.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman - Bear is a favorite with Second Son. (own)

The Last Straw by Fredrick Thury, illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen, is a family favorite. (own)

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond, a cute story that involves lots of popcorn and a Christmas covered with homemade ornaments. (own)

Every year, I mourn a few favorite books that get neglected. This year, I soothed that sadness by pulling out the entire box of Christmas picture books for the children to peruse at their leisure during the Christmas season proper. First Daughter leaped upon A Small Miracle. Good choice! For those that are interested, here are links to the other picture-book-a-day posts.

Past Advent-Picture-Book-a-Day Booklists

2010 list (the first year we did this activity)
2011 first week of Advent
2011 second week of Advent
2011 third week of Advent
2011 fourth week of Advent
my favorite five (or seven) Christmas picture books (2012)
an additional Christmas book for My Favorite Picture Books (2012)
2012 new and noteworthy Advent picture books 
My Twelve Books of Christmas (written in 2013)
2013 and 2014 Advent Picture Books, a Selection

I implemented a little Advent loop this year. We'd read for two days from a family read-aloud, then spend one day reading poetry. Then we'd start over again with the read-aloud.

Read Alouds

Turkey for Christmas by Marguerite de Angeli, a sweet story of a girl who grows up a little at Christmas and her loving family. (library, new to us)

The Little Juggler by Barbara Cooney, one of many versions of this folktale, but my absolute favorite. (received on

The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin is a sweet but sad tale of a little girl named Carol who gives one last glorious Christmas feast and party to her poor but dear neighbors before she passes away. (received on, new to us)


'Twas the Night Before Christmas illustrated by Matt Tavares - I try to read this poem every year and generally choose a different illustrator. This one has detailed pencil illustrations worthy of close inspection. (library, new to us)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers, oh so lovely! (I won this picture book at a giveaway at Bibliozealous, now found at The Bleeding Pelican.)

(See how I managed to slip in two more picture books there?)

The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems edited by Michael Harrison - We didn't finish this book and will pick up where we left off next year. (library, new to us)

The italic print: Links to Amazon are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order). I like to use the little I earn on the blog to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts.

Links to PaperBackSwap could give me a referral credit if you follow the link, establish a new account, and post ten books.


  1. Oh I love Mr. Willowby so much, and Kolbe took a particular liking to it this year. I bet we read it 25 times. I have almost purchased it on numerous occasions.

    I have a used copy of the original B is for Bethlehem and it is autographed by Kleven!

    You have read the story of the fourth wise man (Artiban), right? Can't remember if I've ever seen it on your lists....

    1. Oh, an autographed copy! That's awesome. We do have The Story of the Fourth Wise Man, a picture book version and the original by Van Dyke. Love that book! It wasn't on the list for this year. Maybe next.


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