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A bookish tradition – an advent calendar made of books

12/1/2012

Christmas Tree LightsWhen my daughter was a baby I joined an internet forum, it was me, the token Australian and lots of American and Canadian women.

They were kind and welcoming and shared so many neat ideas for holiday traditions. If you live in the Northern hemisphere you may not even be aware how many holiday traditions and images are very much focus around the weather – snowmen, driving to see the
Christmas lights and eggnog for example.

Well, if you live in Australia and it’s summer at Christmas these traditions don’t translate so well. We go to the beach and swim on Christmas morning, it’s daylight saving so you can’t see the lights till about nine at night and as for egg nog, hot milk isn’t what you want in a heatwave, we’ll have a chardonnay or a beer instead.

Still, I wanted to create a tradition with my daughter that would be lasting and memorable and hopefully sustainable in the long-term and I wanted to use some of the wonderful ideas I was learning from these women.

Then I happened along an idea that was perfect for us. Instead of an advent calendar filled with candy (you know chocolate melts right it’s not great for summer) or toys, these women had an idea that was mind expanding and perfect for a book lover.

It’s a simple concept – find 25 Christmas books and wrap them up, put them in a sack and open one each day in December up until. Genius right? It’s totally perfect for a book lover as well.

Some people I know number their books so they know what is coming each night and do things like save The Night Before Christmas for Christmas Eve. I never was that technical. I wrapped them and we did it lucky dip style. I think you can adapt it to what suits.

Now I know what you’re thinking – twenty five books is going to cost me a pretty penny. Still there are ways around
that.

To start with I used cheap board books, colouring in and sticker books amongst the better quality books. I also scoured cheap and second hand bookshops and online shops like bookcloseouts.com. Some of our favourite books which I bought that way are sadly no longer in print, which is such a pity as I was planning to recommend them to you! I started buying books in the post -Christmas sales for the following year. When my daughter started school the Scholastic catalogues that came home from school were a source of good choices.

Then each year I would add a few more lovely books or more age appropriate books along the way and remove the ones we’d outgrown. I also let people know about this tradition and several gifted us beautiful books too.

We’ve had books to suit all phases of development from Strawberry Shortcake to Littlest Petshops mixed in with more classic tales. It doesn’t much matter what the book is, if the child is excited to bound out of bed and read a book every morning.

My daughter is now twelve. I still try and find one or two new one’s every year.

We have some favourites of course that we revisit each year even though she is my big girl now. We have books from the US and UK as well as some beautiful Australian ones.

Here are a few of our Australian favourites if you already do this or are considering starting this tradition with your own
children.

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle

Pearlie and the Christmas Angel

Letters to Santa

Wombat Divine

I think this may be our last year of this wonderful tradition but I have started other families down this path and I drop new books to them at the start of each December. I intend to keep our books for when my daughter has her own children and wants to share some of her favourite memories with her own kids.

NB: There is no reason you couldn’t do an adult version…you could have 25 Christmas books and unwrap them or you could send a new book to a friend or lover or relative’s Kindle as a gift every day in December…how cool would that be!?

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