What do you remember about Christmas? What are your kids going to remember?
I remember going to church on Christmas Eve. After church my family would eat Chinese take-out before opening gifts. We stayed up late into the night, playing with our new toys and admiring our new clothes.
My memories of Christmas are happy memories. We didn’t have a lot of money for expensive gifts.
I want my children to have happy memories of Christmas, too, and traditions play a huge role in creating great Christmas memories.
We have several Christmas traditions, and today I’m going to share my favorite one.
We began this Christmas tradition when my oldest daughter was about five and my middle child was about a year old. None of my children remember Christmas without this tradition, and even though my oldest is eighteen now, she still looks forward to the nights leading up to Christmas.
What is this wonderful Christmas tradition I speak of? The twenty-four books of Christmas.
Thirteen years ago I bought twenty-four Christmas books. I wrapped each one in festive Christmas paper and placed them in a basket.
Each night from December 1 to December 24 the kids unwrap one book, and we read it together before the youngest goes to bed.
Years ago, when I wrote for another blog, I made the following video 8 years ago (yikes!) to show you the process. Since that video, we’ve added a kid, and all of them have grown up a lot!
24 Books Christmas Tradition Reading Suggestions
We began our Christmas book tradition with many simple board books. Each year I swap out a book or two, so our Christmas books have grown along with my kids.
Still, we look forward to some of the favorites we read year after year.
The following are some suggestions to get you started. These are the 24 books on our reading list this year. Most are geared toward elementary aged kids, but several have board book versions, too.
- B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner
- Candy Cane Christmas by Helen Haidle*
- A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz*
- Christmas in Mouseland by Katharine Holabird
- Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (adapted from the Little House books)*
- The Christmas Story by Jane Werner
- Clopper the Christmas Donkey by Emily King*
- The First Christmas Night by Keith Christopher*
- The Friendly Beasts, an Old Christmas Carol (illustrated by Tomie dePaola)
- God Gave Us Christmas by Tisa Tawn Bergren
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
- Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
- Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore (Illustrated by Jan Brett)
- The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin
- Peter Claus and the Naughty List by Lawrence David
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown
- Racecar Driver’s Night Before Christmas by Una Belle Townsend
- Santa is Coming to Oregon by Steve Smallman
- The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt* – If you read one book this Christmas, read this one. It makes me cry every time.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas in Oregon by Susan Blackaby
- Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate*
- Winnie The Pooh’s Christmas by Bruce Talkington
*The books with asterisks indicate our very favorite books. These books are staples of our reading tradition, largely because they spur discussions about the true meaning of Christmas year after year. I would never consider swapping these books out. Ever.
It’s OK to do a mix of books. Obviously my fourteen and eighteen year olds are too old for all of the books we read these days. But they still love them, because it’s tradition.
A Note About Santa
Our family takes a middle of the road approach on Santa. Our kids know he is not real, and they know the true story of St. Nicholas.
Still, we have fun “pretending” Santa, and we like to read Santa stories. If you don’t do Santa, believe me, there are plenty of Christmas storybooks out there that don’t do Santa. It may take a little extra digging, but they’re out there!
24 Christmas Books Tradition the Frugal Way
The obvious way to save money on 24 Christmas books is to purchase secondhand books from used bookstores or on Amazon or eBay.
The cost still adds up, though, so if you’d like to participate in this tradition, but can’t afford the cost, consider these suggestions.
Start with a 12 day (or shorter) tradition. Twelve books is far more affordable than 24, and you can take the whole year to build up your library for 2017.
Or, if your library is like mine, the checkout period is three weeks. Check out 12 books from the library and wrap them up to read before Christmas. Just remember to return the books on time!A Christmas tradition your family will love!Click To Tweet
Whether you decide to read 24 days worth of books, 12 days, or even fewer, reading is a great way to stop and connect with your kids during the busy Christmas season.
I love knowing that no matter how busy our December days become, we will all gather on the sofa before bed to read a book and stop for a little Christmas conversation.
And that is why the 24 Books of Christmas is my favorite Christmas tradition.