Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Book Advent Tree




















This post nearly slipped past me without being put on the interwebs. Shocking! Christmas has blown by and now on the eve of the New Year I'm finally getting to writing this more fully. See how I prioritize? I want to have this idea make an appearance before the end of the month because it was fun, it was easy and the girls LOVED it thoroughly. Many things are on my WANT TO DO FOR CHRISTMAS LIST but few actually get done. This LIST is getting far too long. Some of the things will wait until next year to be forgotten again. Ahh the wonders of my motivation. The idea that is partially shown in the photo is the Christmas book Advent tree. We celebrate Advent in this family and every year we have some sort of calendar fun thing for the girls. For the past three (more?) years we have done a Lego calendar. We are Lego nuts which made this the perfect solution to the Advent calender fun, thus began a little tradition. When you end up depending on something you just plain forget that there is a smidgen of effort required to maintain that little tradition. That effort being actually ordering the calendar well before Advent begins. We are not the best planners for things like this, generally we are last minute "Oh by the way" people. True to our nature we assumed that there would be plenty of those Lego Advent calendars out there and we'd just pick one up and be set. That did not happen. We waited far too long and there were no more calendars to buy.

The lack of a calendar put me into thinking mode. What would we do instead? There were the standard chocolate filled calendars all over the place but really, do we need more candy? I think not. That was a nice aspect of the Lego calendar a treat without the calories. I thought about getting one of those Advent cabinet calendars. I looked at a few and decided that the tiny little drawers would not fit much more than candy. I was running out of good for us ideas. I went about my routine but the lack of a calendar was haunting me. When I began opening up the boxes of Christmas decorations I found a box filled with several Christmas themed books. Typically I just put them in a basket near the tree and hope the girls pick one up to read. I was nearly going to do that when it hit me. I remember a friend telling me that she created an Advent calendar using books. All these books, so many, many, books, they could be made into a calendar. All it took was that little idea and we were set for some Advent calendar fun.

The idea: wrap up the books and let them be the treat for the day. Brilliant!

Over the years we have collected a good variety of Christmas picture books. Some are religious most are not. As I looked through them I decided that I was going to select a few books for specific days. There are several significant feast days during December and I wanted to do a little something special on those days. I pulled out the books specific to those days so that the girls will remember the importance of that saint. I wrapped up each book, carefully labeled my special day books and put them under the tree. This idea worked beautifully. Those girls were so excited to be able to open a "present" book every day. I worked it out so they took turns choosing a book. There was only one rule: Unless the books were marked with a note stating when it must be opened they were able to choose any book under the tree. Easy. Fun. Perfect.

The best part? The special books. I was glad they were interested in learning about those saints. There are so many feast days that doing a book for every saint would be too much. I chose to do a few that are significant to us. Below is the list of books I used for those special days. Having a book for a feast day encouraged the girls to ask about the story and helped them learn. I plan to continue this next year but will phase out some of the "baby" books. I won't eliminate the picture book focus, that's what makes this so great, their beautiful pictures are great visual reminders of the stories. It's the early reader picture books that are going to be replaced by some more meaningful stories. I've been keeping an eye out for other good books to add to our collection and will add a few that I found recently to next year's queue. This one little idea has become a new family tradition. A good one indeed.

Our December Feast Day Book List

6th: Saint Nicholas we read The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by: Gloria Whelan
9th: Saint Juan Diego we read The Lady of Guadalupe by: Tomie dePaola
12th: Our Lady of Guadalupe we read The Night of Las Posadas by: Tomie dePaola
13th: Saint Lucia we read Lucia Saint of Light by: Katherine Bolger Hyde

The list below are books I selected for other important days that are not for a saint's feast day.

11th: we read The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
21st we read The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by: Wendy Pfeffer
23rd: we read Brigid's Cloak an Ancient Irish Story by: Bryce Milligan
24th: we read The Night Before Christmas by: Clement C. Moore
25th: we read The Miracle of Jesus by: Tomie dePaola

The following books are books we love and are wonderful to read:

The Gift of the Magi by: O. Henry
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by: Susan Wojciechowski
The Gift of Nothing by: Patrick McDonnell
Katy and the Big Snow by: Virginia Lee Burton
The Little Fir Tree by: Jim LaMarche
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by: Dr. Seuss
A Wish for Wings That Work an Opus Christmas story by: Berkeley Breathed

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