15 Advent and Christmas Read Alouds for the Whole Family
by Maureen Wittmann
The start of Advent is just days away -- time to get to the library and grab some books to enjoy as we prepare to celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I've put together a list of favorite Advent and Christmas books to help you and yours celebrate the season through read-aloud time.
The key to a good family read-aloud book is its ability to appeal to a range of ages. Everyone should look forward to Family Reading Time, from the five-year old to the fifteen-year old to the fifty-year old. It can be tricky finding good books that meet the criteria of all those age groups, but it can be done. Following are just a few ideas for you.
Let's start with chapter books. I followed with a classic short story and ended with a few picture books that can still be enjoyed by everyone. Or, better yet, have your teens can read them to your littles. (Note: the book title links are affiliate links.) I encourage you to share your favorites in the comments.
A Merry Christmas: And Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott (160 p.)
A lovely nineteenth-century collection of Christmas stories from the Little Women author. A terrific choice for a multiple-aged reading.
Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien (128 p.)
Tolkien wrote a series of Father Christmas letters to his children over the years and now we get to enjoy them too. Make sure to have Christmas music playing in the background as you read this one.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (120 p.)
If you haven't picked up A Christmas Carol since childhood you really should give it a consider. You'll be amazed at how well it rolls off the tongue. Dickens had a good sense of humor, which makes it fun to read as well.
A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder (144 p.)
This book takes all the Christmas stories from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series and puts them into one book. If you already own the full series, you can pull out the Christmas stories yourself. Though this would be a great gift for someone who hasn't been introduced yet to Little House.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (128 p.)
A humorous, yet heartwarming, story of a Christmas pageant almost gone wrong. I know a number of families who have an annual tradition of reading this aloud during family time.
The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle (56 p.)
A sweet Advent story from L'Engle's Austin family series. Each day of December is special and full of preparation for the Austin family. But this year, there's something different going on ...
A classic tale of giving and receiving. I remember being profoundly affected by this story as a child and love sharing it with my own children today.
The Huron Carol by Saint Jean de Brebeuf (32 p.)
The Huron Carol was written by St. Jean de Bregeuf, Jesuit missionary to the Huron and North American martyr. It is known as the first American Christmas carol and was originally written in the Huron language.
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan (32 p.)
One of my favorite Christmas picture books, this is the story of a Russian village, a deserted church, and an icon of St. Nicholas. It is a story of hope.
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola (32 p.)
From the publisher, "In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuenao flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside."
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola (32 p.)
The beautiful Hispanic Christmas tradition of Las Posadas — Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay in preparation for Jesus's birth.
Little House Picture Book: Christmas in the Big Woods (32 p.)
Taken from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, this is a delightful picture book with lovely illustrations. We own the full set of these books, but then we have a daughter named after Wilder.
Bambinelli Sunday by Amy Welborn (32 p.)
Bambinelli Sunday is an Italian Advent tradition were the faithful bring the Christ Child from their Nativity to the Pope to be blessed during the noon Angelus on the third Sunday of Advent. This is a sweet story of a boy and the faith lessons he learns from his grandfather.
Lucia Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde (32 p.)
A well-written and nicely illustrated biography of St. Lucy, whose feast day falls on December 13th. It's a great day to learn about St. Lucy, light some candles, and enjoy some St. Lucy bread.
For more book suggestions, plus ideas to integrate picture books into the celebration of Christmas, check out Christmas Mosaic, An Illustrated Book Study for Advent and Christmas by Cay Gibson [Hillside Education].
Let us know your favorite Advent and Christmas books in the comments!