One of our great family traditions to countdown to Christmas is reading holiday books! To make it even special, I wrap the books and the kids can choose one each day. How fun!

Do you countdown to Christmas by reading holiday books? As you know, we count down to Christmas with an activity advent calendar. (Check out how to make one using Dollar Tree supplies!) so why not a book Advent calendar? 

What is a Book Advent Calendar?

A book advent calendar is a creative twist on a traditional advent calendar and a fun way to count down the days until Christmas. Instead of opening doors to find chocolates or small toys, you read a book each day leading up to Christmas. It’s one of my favorite traditions! Plus, it’s a wonderful way to encourage the joy of reading.T

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Tips for an Advent Book Calendar

  • Twenty-five books may sounds like a lot, but you don’t necessarily need to buy 25 new books.  Look for books at thrift stores, book sales, and rummage sales. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be done during the holidays. I’m always on the lookout year-round.
  • Borrow books at the library. Put the books on hold early or browse the holiday section.  I would suggest reading those books first though so you don’t risk a fine.
  • Still can’t find enough books? It doesn’t necessarily need to be holiday themed. How about anything with snow? Or you can include their favorite books.
  • Start counting down whenever you’d like. We always start on December 1st but 12 days before Christmas is fine too!
  • Place the books in a basket, on a shelf, or stacked on the floor.
  • Number the books…or don’t number the books.
  • Wrap them or don’t wrap them. It’s up to you. This shouldn’t stress you out.
  • Have fun with it!

Countdown to Christmas with these Holiday Books 

Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas

What happens when a little ninja doesn’t believe in Santa? This book will be LOVED by any ninja-lovin’ kid. This book would be great to pair with making these ninja-bread men since I’ve totally given up on making real gingerbread houses. Ha!

The 12 Sleighs of Christmas

What do you do when Santa’s sleigh isn’t working? 12 elves come up with a new sleigh for Santa that includes motorcyles, high-flying boats, and other cool contraptions? Which one does he pick? My kids really enjoyed reading this book, and of course, rooting for their favorite new sleigh.


 A Cookie for Santa

This adorable twist on the Night Before Christmas stars a gingerbread boy and his cookie duties as Santa’s snack. Will he be brave enough to do what he needs to do? A cute book with a little twist at the end. A perfect book to read before or after making your cookies for Santa.


Dream Snow

Little ones will love reading this and trying to figure out what animal is hiding behind the snow. Plus, if you happen to get the hardcover you’ll see an extra special lighted surprise at the end.

Holiday Heroes Save Christmas

What happens when Santa get sicks and can’t deliver presents? He enlists the help of the Holiday Heroes – the Tooth Fairy, Leprechaun, Witch, and Easter Bunny. After undergoing training, they are set on their mission — to save Christmas in their own style.

How do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

For fans of dinosaurs, this is a no-brainer. My kids have grown up with this series and this is extra special.

The Polar Express

My kids have loved this classic story ever since they could say the words, “choo choo.” Make it even better with a real train ride.

Pig the Elf

Since we have a pug, we love any and all Pig the Pug books. In this version, Pig is up to his usual antics except Christmas-themed with Santa, of course.

A Christmas Carol: A Babylit Book

I absolutely adore these little board books from BabyLit. They take your favorite novels and stories and condenses it into a little board book. Perfect for babies! The BabyLit version has cute illustrations and focuses on colors seen throughout the book.

Pete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of Christmas

If you love counting down to Christmas in the 12 Days of Christmas style, you’ll adore Pete’s version. 

Dinosaur vs. Santa

Fans of dinosaurs have no doubt run into these “Dinosaur vs.” series. This particular book focuses on Dinosaur all the things he needs to do to get ready for Santa’s arrival. 

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

Love Llama Llama and all his adventures? Llama Llama is so excited to Christmas and is busily preparing for the big day, but he can’t wait. Then when the big day arrives, he gets overwhelmed. In the end, he learns a sweet lesson. Guaranteed to end with a hug and kiss.


Snowmen at Christmas

How do snowmen celebrate at Christmas? A little boy imagines snowmen having all the fun with dancing, trimming the tree, and of course seeing Kris Kringle. Such an adorable little book!

Santa Mouse

A really adorable story about a mouse who becomes Santa’s little helper. I absolutely love the vintage illustrations!

S is for Santa

Another adorable board book from BabyLit. As you can guess, the book goes through the alphabet and each letter corresponds to a holiday-theme. For instance, G for Gingerbread. Love this book for my emerging reader.

12 Elves of Christmas

We’ve had this book for awhile now and it’s one of the kids’ favorites. Every day, I go ahead and hide the elf. Using clues from the book, the kids go on and search for it. Once they find it we stick it under the tree. This is our “easy” version of Elf on the Shelf.

The Littlest Elf

Oliver the Elf wants to help out but he finds out that he’s too “little” to do anything. But in the end he does find out what he’s perfect for and it may involve helping Santa.

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express

What a beautiful book! The illustrations are wonderful and pages durable. Some pages have flaps to open, others have peek through holes that open to the next page. Not only is it a gorgeous book, but the story is uplifting as well!

A Bad Kitty Christmas

Bad Kitty is back at it again with her antics and ruins Christmas because she wants more. Then she meets a friend and everything changes for the better. A super cute story!

A Bag for Santa

This book from local Chicagoland author Kendra Esbrook is one of my new favorite holiday books 

Read the full review here. 

Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas

Danny gets a very hungry dinosaur for Christmas that eats all of Christmas? Can you imagine what happens next? And yes, it does involve poop!

Santa Bruce

What happens when a reluctant bear becomes Santa Claus for Christmas – Santa Bruce! An endearing story that is similar to the Grinch.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas

Bear is trying to stay up for Christmas, but will he succeed? A very cute book that talks about sharing and caring.

Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas

The gingerbread man is busy making a sweet present for someone special. When the time comes to give it to them, he’s confronted with winds and a sticky situation. Does it stop him from giving the present? A perfect book to pair with making gingerbread men or a house.

Santa is Coming to Chicago

Santa is coming to Chicago! This cute book highlights places that your kids may know. The perfect book to grab to highlight your city. Also makes a great souvenir! We read this book when we visit any of the Chicago attractions on our advent calendar. So fun!

A World of Cookies for Santa

If you love traveling and food, this is the perfect holiday story! Follow along as Santa goes around the world and tries different cookies at each stop. The best part? The recipes at the end of the book so you can actually make the cookies!

What are some of your favorite holiday books?