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I love the idea I’ve seen again and again on Pinterest for wrapping 25 Christmas books up and letting your kids open one as part of each day of Advent. We’ll be doing Truth in the Tinsel again this year, and reading a book together seems like a good waiting-for-glue-to-dry activity, doesn’t it?
But here’s the thing—and think we’re evil if you want—but we don’t do Santa. I am certainly not anti-Santa by any means, but we’ve chosen to focus on Jesus as the reason for Christmas, not Santa bringing gifts. Mommy and Daddy bring the gifts in our family. (OK, truthfully, Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, and Popi bring most of the gifts.)
So I’ve been trying to come up with 25 books sans Santa that we could use for this activity. And maybe you have, too? Here are my suggestions – please leave yours in the comments!
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren – No, I don’t like God Gave Us You. But I do like this one more. And I hadn’t put together until right now that this is the same author who wrote Waterfall, which I just read this week and LOVED!
The Perfect Christmas Gift (Gigi, God’s Little Princess Series) by Sheila Walsh – I believe I’ve expounded on my great love for the Gigi books. They are funny for kids and adults and teach little girls great lessons about being a daughter of the Highest King.
The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs – “It’s one of those Christmas books that isn’t technically about baby Jesus and the manger but still manages to get the entire real true story of Christmas in there without being trite or cheesy. I cry every single time I read it!” – OhAmanda
The Very First Christmas (Beginner’s Bible) – I believe this is just the Christmas story excerpted from The Beginner’s Bible; but since we don’t have that Bible, I like this one. It’s divided into tiny chapters and includes everything from the angel visiting Mary to the flight to Egypt. It also has a short chapter about Jesus growing up and what He did on the cross. [Plus, this is only $1.99 at ChristianBook.com and even less if you buy in bulk, making it perfect for handing out to Sunday School classes.]
The First Christmas by Gaby Goldsack – Your basic Christmas story retelling, with sweet illustrations by Caroline Pedler.
Lift-the-Flap Nativity from Reader’s Digest – This one is great for my smaller guy (he’ll be 2 the week of Christmas). He LOVES flaps. Fun and interactive!
The Candle in the Window by Grace Johnson – This one is long—I would never expect David to sit through it. But it’s a beautiful story of a German cobbler who remembers the true meaning of Christmas as Christmas Eve passes. Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy. The illustrations by Mark Elliott are lovely and enchanting as well.
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones – “This is a children’s book, but I was totally captivated by this story. Each page shows and tells about different aspects of our world – the wind, the trees, the animals, the stars – as they whisper to each other, ‘It’s time! It’s time!’ The anticipation builds until at last Jesus arrives and creation celebrates the Light of the World and the Prince of Peace.” – The Christian Manifesto
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer – I’ve been captivated by this book ever since I saw its cover. Isn’t Humphey a hoot? He’s one of the camels who carries the Wise Men, and this is his story. I finally ordered it today!
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg – A stranger comes to a small town and introduces them to legend behind the candy cane, with help from a little girl named Lucy.
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell – On Christmas Eve / all are welcome / at the stable. / On Christmas Eve / all are welcome / because there’s always / room for a little one.
The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson – This is based on the same passage and ideas as The Candle in the Window, so it would be good to introduce a week later or so and reiterate what you learned there.
The Wonder of Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall – We love Miss Mackall in our house. I love how this one prompts your children to think about how each character in the Nativity might have been thinking then.
Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Bostrom – This is one of my absolute favorite Christmas books; and I think Libbie will be old enough to really sit through it this year (she’s 4). More than anything, Josie wants a beautiful blue sweater. But it’s the Depression and her father died that year. Is Christmas about what you want … or what you have?
On This Special Night by Claire Freedman – Although Jesus’ name is never mentioned, children with any context of the Christmas story will “get” it as they see the animals gather for a very special night. This one is all about the illustrations.
Merry Creature Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall – Another Mackall treasure. “Little Star, Big Bear, and the proud, white mare, Join the forest creatures dancing everywhere. All the bluebirds sing, praising Christ the King, On the night of the Creature Christmas.”
The Best Thing about Christmas by Christine Harder Tangvald – A little simplistic, but a good choice, especially for smaller children.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado – Joshua the lamb can’t keep up with the other sheep and feels left out … but finds himself in a special stable.
The Tiny Star by Art Ginolfi – A little board book, where a tiny star plays a big role.
The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Hunt – Based on the folktale, Angela Hunt retells the story of three trees who think they dream to be certain things … and find themselves in even more important roles. Not strictly a Christmas book, but I think it’s good to relate the whole story of Jesus to Christmas.
A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck – A little boy says good-night to his nativity on Christmas Eve.
The First Noel illustrated by Jody Wheeler – Watercolor paintings put to the words to the carol “The First Noel.”
Christmas Angels by Gwen Ellis – Tells how angels were involved in the Christmas story.
Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wangerin Jr – A different way of telling the story, this is written from the viewpoint of Mary talking to Jesus about his birth when he is a boy. Undertones of what will happen to Jesus find their way into the story; some Amazon reviewers didn’t like that it is a little dark in places.
The Story of Christmas by Pamela Dalton – Yes, it’s one last Nativity storybook. But this one uses the words straight from the KJV alongside incredible papercutting illustrations. How gorgeous!
So there you have it! Twenty-five books you can wrap up and stick under the tree. Each day in December, let your children pick one to open and read together. There will be a lot of repetition, which will help the True Story of Christmas really stick in their little hearts.
What’s your favorite Jesus-Centered Christmas book?
Want more? For Christmas 2013, I’ve shared 10 More Jesus-Centered Christmas Books over at OhAmanda!