Happy New (Liturgical) Year! Advent is here! Do you know where your Advent wreath is? How’s your shopping list coming along? As we enter the busyness of the holiday season, reading a book might be the last thing on your mind. But today is a great day to make a New (Liturgical) Year’s resolution to be intentional about allowing Advent to be a sacred time of prayer and preparation. One of my favorite ways to make that happen in a busy household full of kids is to take a little time each day for some quiet reading and reflection. It’s a great way to enrich your prayer life at home and enter more deeply into the season. Here are some of my family’s recommendations for this Advent and Christmas season.
Books to Read as a Family
Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families by Sarah Reinhard
This lovely little devotional is affordable and includes a short reading for every day of Advent and the Christmas Octave. There’s even a reading for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Each reading includes a prayer, a thought for families to reflect on and discuss, and a small act they can do that day to embrace the seasons of Advent and Christmas. We’ve been using this book for five years (and counting!) every Advent and Christmas. We light the corresponding candle(s) on our Advent wreath and read from the book every day before dinner. Reflecting on each devotion has been a great way to connect as a family at the dinner table.
The Story of Christmas Story Book Set and Advent Calendar by Carolyn Croll
This is a set of 25 little storybooks to hang on your tree! Each tiny book is only a few sentences long, with colorful illustrations. This is another favorite at our house because it delivers the story of Christmas in bite-sized pieces and adds to the experience of waiting in anticipation of the arrival of Jesus. As soon as our kids were old enough to read, they started taking turns reading a book each night, and the tradition is still going strong.
The Story of Christmas by Patricia Pingry
The littles in your life will love this simple board book about getting ready for Jesus’ birthday. The story includes preparations your family may be making, as well as the preparations of Mary and Joseph as they prepared for the birth of Jesus.
Happy Birthday, Jesus! by Michelle Medlock Adams
I think my older two boys had this book memorized the first Advent we had it! The story is told in rhymes with colorful illustrations. It’s a perfect story to add to your Advent bedtime routine and helps our littlest disciples understand why we celebrate Christmas.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Jason Cockcroft
This beautifully illustrated children’s book is told from inside the stable. Our littles loved the chance to think about the animals in the stable and how sweet it was for them to welcome baby Jesus the night he was born.
Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki and Ivan Gantschev
Santa falls asleep under a tree and wakes to find the creatures of the forest worried that if he doesn’t deliver gifts in time, Christmas will be canceled. Santa calms their fears by sharing his favorite Christmas story with them: the story of Jesus’ birth. This is a beautiful story for young children about the true meaning of Christmas.
Books for Big(ger) Kids
As your children grow into independent readers, it’s essential to help them find books they can read on their own that nourish their faith. Giving “big kids” space to read, reflect and pray in a Christ-centered way invites them to nurture a personal relationship with Jesus and embrace the faith as part of who they are.
Margaret’s Night in St. Peter’s by Jon M. Sweeney
Margaret is a sweet little cat the Pope adopted in The Pope’s Cat. Margaret’s adventures in the Vatican as everyone prepares for Christmas are told in an illustrated chapter book. This is a perfect book for readers getting into chapter books and gives a glimpse into life at the Vatican.
Advent and Christmas: One Day at a Time for Catholic Teens by Katie Prejean McGrady & Tommy McGrady
We didn’t forget about your biggest kids at home. This Advent devotional for teens invites them into prayer and reflection and challenges them to stretch their spiritual muscles. Each entry is short but meaningful. This book is a great way to help teens enter into a more contemplative prayer experience during Advent and consider ways to grow in their faith that are both appealing and attainable.