An Advent Calendar — in Books

Elizabeth Bluemle -- November 21st, 2012

A longtime friend and customer brought one of her friends to the store for the first time today. There’s almost nothing more heartening than hearing our loyal Flying Pig folk introduce the bookstore to their friends and family. They say the nicest things about how our small business has been part of their lives, and their enthusiasm and appreciation sends a glow through us that last through long hours. Our sense of being part of the fabric of our community is strongest at these moments. Meeting new people at the store has benefits far beyond just the potential to forge a new relationship with a happy customer; often, we learn about new authors and pick up great ideas. Today’s serendipitous encounter was with Allison, whose preschool-aged son loves books. She was in, she said, looking for some holiday books to add to their under-tree Advent calendar.

“Your…?” I said.

She laughed. “We’re doing a book every night for the 24 nights of December. They’ll be wrapped under the tree, and our son can choose whatever package he’d like that night, and we’ll read it to him before bed.”

I love this idea! A book Advent calendar! Brilliant!! Admittedly, this is a plan that could get expensive, and Allison did confide that what gave her the idea originally was a book club flyer from her son’s preschool that offered 10 books for $14.95. She’s buying the rest of the 14 books at local bookstores. That’s a compromise I can understand.

This is an idea that could also work for the eight days of Hanukkah, and the seven days of Kwanzaa. Of course, book fanatics like me would enjoy the book-a-day-all-year-round plan, but that’s neither practical nor possible (which is why we own bookstores), so this could be a good compromise.

I’ve had fun thinking of what books I might choose for my 24-day book Advent calendar, if they were all books with a strong Christmas theme. Many of mine are long-held loves, some from childhood, others from more recent days. This list is a little fluid; I’m sure I’ve forgotten some beloved favorites. But for now, here’s my Advent-calendar 24-book round-up:

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, A Christmas Miracle by Peter Collington, Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson, The Tree of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco, Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker, A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (the version illustrated by Susan Jeffers has a Christmas surprise), The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Night Tree by Eve Bunting, Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry, Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell, Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell (my very first childhood Christmas favorite), The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Night Before Christmas Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda, Christmas with Ida Early by Robert Burch, and Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (hey, I don’t have kids, and this is my personal advent calendar, so the Macy’s elf story makes the tree!).

What Christmas books would be must-reads on your Advent calendar list?