The Book Advent, Our New Holiday Tradition

The holidays are about tradition, old and new. (Maybe too often just old ones.) We’re trying to make a new one with our 11-month-old Oliver this year: an advent calendar of reading. We’re aiming for a book a day up to Christmas (which we celebrate).

A recent study showed that having a library of books in the home is the second-highest predictor of kids’ reading performance besides the overall economy. Having a hundred (or so) books around can give kids a year-and-a-half of extra reading level performance.

Here’s a list of what we’ve chosen for Oliver this year. (Not just books, but a cute stuffed animal and pajamas, as well.) Don’t consider this a hard-and-fast guide, by any means! Whether you’re buying books new, grabbing them from the library, or taking advantage of the excellent deals on used books through Amazon resellers, the important idea is just the reading itself. You can do this without spending a penny—or not many pennies, at least.

Christmas Pajamas

We opened these after Thanksgiving with plans to wear them—stains permitting—all season long. Here are the ones we bought, plus a couple of options for bigger babbos. Oliver had 3 best friends all born within 4 months of him (including Ellie, pictured above) and we’re all doing the book advent idea together. We found cute striped PJs with Santas on the feet and the girls have adorable red ones with the reindeer on the side.

(Yet Another) Stuffed Animal

This year Oliver, my 11-month-old, is getting this “reindeer” to go along with one of his new books. (It will magically turn into a moose after Christmas.)

A Comfy Blanket

We’ve already got a few big plush blankets we can all snuggle under, but if you want a new one, Aden & Anais have some adorable options.

I also really like these fuzzy blankets you can get at Target for around $35, if you don’t want to mail-order.

Okay. The books!

We’re wrapping them up and opening one each day until Christmas. For Oliver we are using all that extra tissue paper we have lying around; it’s easier to tear and lets him practice for his first Christmas paper wrapocalypse. The book advent lets us encouraging reading, get a few bonus snuggles in, and ramp up for the holidays! (Plus, it extends the holiday fun throughout the month in a way that isn’t toy-focused.) You don’t even need to make them all holiday books, either. We are doing almost all normal books so we can continue to read them throughout the year.

And as always, while you’re welcome to buy new ones (and give The NightLight a little support by doing so), there’s really nothing stopping you from buying used books online or at a local bookshop, or even just checking out enough books from the library to put it all together and returning them after the holidays. You can even—gasp!—wrap up books they already have. If they’re young enough, they might not know the difference.

Here are a few of Oliver’s favorites.

We love the “If you give a Mouse” books in our house! I expect the moose version to hold up to scrutiny.

My husband got Oliver a hard cover copy when he was born but he is at the grabbing phase so grabbed a copy he can manhandle.

This one is a favorite from my childhood! I have been singing the lyrics to Oliver since he was in my belly.

This is a new one for us recommended by a bunch of friends with littles. There are a few of these on this list.


Oliver loves this one. It has pages inside that get bigger as the caterpillar eats his way through the book. O loves to turn the pages.

This one is one I read for the 1st time in 1st grade and have passed on to all of my siblings. Oliver loves the cadence of the words.

We basically love any Sandra Boynton book. Oliver is getting these sets, broken up one a day. Best part is that this will cover 14 days. He loves her books! If you already have one in a set you can regift it to a friend. (We read at least one of her books a day already.)

Oliver has a new found love for Pout-Pout Fish books. So here’s the original and a few new ones we are excited to add.

Another from my childhood that I am excited to pass down to my son.

Here are a couple Christmas options too. I had to have a Christmas “Give a Mouse” book!

We have “I love you Stinky Face” and I had to get this one for the collection.

These bears are mandatory.


See above.

Another classic and without Uncanny Valley Tom Hanks.


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