Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Advent Countdown with Books

I created a list of books I wanted to introduce to the boys during Advent 2012.  I drew inspiration from a couple of places, and I was excited to try out unwrapping a book each night.  It ended up being a lot of fun, a great way to use up some wrapping paper, a good introduction for each feast day, and a fantastic way to keep the focus on the meaning of the season.  For example, we read Saint Nicholas, the story of the real Santa Claus the night before St. Nicholas Day, and because we love him so much, we read another book about him the next night. I linked to books that we particularly enjoyed.  I don't know what we read the first of December.  Wait, maybe that's when Advent began?  I already don't remember!  

Staring at this list more and more, I don't believe this is the most updated list.  I feel as though I moved the books around a little more than this.  Oh, well......at least I have these titles.  Some books we already had, some we got through interlibrary loan, and some we purchased.  We will probably be purchasing a few of the Tomie dePaola books, though I was glad to peruse them via library loan first.  

All I did was wrap each book at lightening speed during quiet time with my husband's help and label them with the correct calendar day on a back corner of the wrapping.  I set them all aside in a canvas bin and placed it in our bay window.  I did not wrap the family Bible until later in the month, in order to have access to it.  When I did wrap it, I used a shiny gold paper to get the boys' attention that this book was a very special book compared to the selections that came before it.

2: Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
3: The Story of Christmas
4: A Stocking for Jesus
5: Saint Nicholas, The story of the real Santa Claus
6: Saint Nicholas, The Real Story of the Christmas Legend 
7: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
8: Immaculate Conception  (booklet) 
9: Our Lady of Guadalupe by Bernier-Grand & Engel  
10: An Angel Came to Nazareth
11: Our Lady of Guadalupe (pop up)
12: Lucia and the Light
13: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
14: The Very First Christmas (a Hallmark book recorded by hubby's parents in 2010)
16: The Nativity
17: Great Joy
18: St. Joseph's Story
22: Little Star
24: Gospel of Luke, family Bible (wrap in gold, very special wrapping) Luke 2:1-14

Off the top of my head, highlights of the collection included our new Our Lady of Guadalupe books (so nice to have books about her!), The Night of Las Posadas, Bear Stays Up for Christmas, Who is Coming to Our House, and An Early American Christmas.  We also enjoyed reading the dePaola book about the poinsettia, but I don't remember when we read it.  It either made its way into the wrapped collection without an edit to the list, or we read it after Christmas.  Room for a Little One is awfully sweet, as well, setting a quiet and hushed scene for the arrival of a special little one.  Bear Stays Up for Christmas is secular but very sweet.  Its illustrations are lovely, and the friendships depicted are charming.  An Early American Christmas, a piece of historical fiction, depicted what it might have been like in colonial New England when a family moves to town that celebrates Christmas more demonstrably.

I did not enjoy the Rudolph book, which was a shame because it was the old, Montgomery Ward version that is attached to memories for my husband's side of the family.  It was terrible.  I don't even think my sons enjoyed it.  It will not make it into next year's collection.  I was surprised to find the addition of magic in the Strega Nona books (one was read after Christmas Day), but I did like them.  Little Star was also a little disappointing.  Too wordy.  Lucia and the Light scared my almost-five-year-old a bit too much right before falling asleep.

I was also going to prepare some wrapped books for at least the first eight days of Christmas, but I let go of that thought after a while.  Maybe next year.  One of the books I received via library loan was The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola, and I really enjoyed it because of how it mentions Christmas reverently in the story.  I think I will have to add that one to our collection.  

What about you?  Did you create an Advent book countdown?  Any favorites you'd like to share?

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