A Picture Book Advent Calendar + 24 of Our Favorite Holiday Picture Books

I adore advent calendars of all kind. As a book lover, what could be better than a bookish advent calendar? A few years when my oldest son was around 2, I started collecting our favorite holiday picture books to add to our Picture Book Advent Calendar. Here’s a look at how it works for us including the 24 books we are including this year…


Read a new holiday, or seasonal, picture book each night of December leading up to Christmas Eve- just as you would complete an advent calendar each day of December. Simple and fun!


+ Start with library books. Obviously I wasn’t going to go out and buy 24 new picture books when we first started this tradition. I started by checking out holiday/seasonal books from the library and we read a new one each night. Then I made a note of the ones that we all loved and purchased them when I found a good deal later in the year. After a few years of collecting, we had our set ready to go!

+ Wrap your picture books. Wrapping your books is not necessary but it adds an extra element of surprise each night as the kids take turns opening them. My secret hack is to wrap up all the books just before I store them away at the end of the season. Then I don’t even have to think about it again until December 1 rolls around the next year.

Add new books every couple of years. Every couple of years I rotate out 1 or 2 books that we need a break from and add a few newly published seasonal books in their place. I buy new books at the end of the season (or even in the middle of summer) when they’re usually marked down.


Christmas Picture Book Advent Calendar

There are a lot of advent-worthy picture books out there. We rotate ours regularly so don’t be sad if you don’t see a favorite. It’s most likely been on the list at some point but just not this year. Also, I have two little boys and our list definitely reflects that…

1. Santa Bruce, Ryan T. Higgins – Loveable curmudgeon, Bruce, gets caught up in playing the part of Santa for his forest friends. At first he doesn’t share in the spirit of the season and just wants to sleep, but watch what happens when he finally gives in.

2. Bear Stays Up For Christmas, Karma Wilson – Bears friends are determined to keep him awake for Christmas. Bear wants to hibernate but his friends don’t want him to miss the festivities!

3. Pick A Pine Tree, Patricia Toht – This book is so beautiful. It’s all about traditions, and the best tradition of all- picking out a Christmas tree.

4. Snowmen At Christmas, Caralyn Buehner – How do Snowmen celebrate Christmas? With an icy holiday celebration at night after everyone has gone to sleep- complete with snow cones and a Snow Santa!

5. The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats – This might be one of my favorite winter season picture books. Follow Peter as he walks through his neighborhood, playing in the snow.

6. Little Blue Trucks Christmas, Alice Schertle – Fans of Little Blue Truck will love this Christmas version. Little Blue delivers the perfect Christmas trees to all of his friends, with a surprise on the last page.

7. Construction Site on Christmas Night, Sherri Duskey Rinker – Your favorite Construction Site characters are back and working together to build the perfect Christmas gift. Each has their part to play and each gets their own surprise in the end.

8. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, Eric Litwin – Everyone loves this groovy cat and watching him make the most of the holiday season gets everyone in the giving mood.

9. Maple and Willow’s Christmas Tree, Lori Nichols – Sisters, Maple and Willow, want badly to pick the perfect real, live Christmas tree. There’s just one problem- Maple is allergic!

10. Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas, Rubin Pingk – It’s Christmas Eve and the little ninjas are trying very hard to be good for just one more night! But Yukio wants a snowball fight. Sad that his friends won’t join in on the mischief, he decides to run Santa out of town.

11. Click Clack Ho! Ho! Ho!, Doreen Cronin – Those mischievous farm animals are up to it again. Duck, especially, has got himself stuck in a pickle. He’s up the chimney and pretty soon, so are all the other animals! Santa to the rescue.

12. Madeline’s Christmas, Ludwig Bemelmans – Sweet Madeline. Celebrate with her and all her friends, Parisian style!

13. Dear Santa, Rod Campbell – A companion book to Dear Zoo, you’ll be lifting flaps to see what Santa sent you until he gets it just right with the perfect gift.

14. The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever, Steven Kroll – Two mice get up early to find the biggest, most perfect Christmas tree in the forest. What happens when they both want the same one?

15. Here Comes Jack Frost, Kazuno Kohara – A lonely boy makes friend with Jack Frost. They play all winter and have so much fun. Jack shows him how to make the most of those cold, snowy days.

16. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell, Lucille Colandro – A sing song book written in rhyme, just watch all the silly things that happen when an old lady swallows a bell.

17. Winter Walk – Take a walk through the forest in the winter as this nonfiction book points out all the things you will see from pine needles to tracks in the snow.

18. Last Stop on the Reindeer Express, Maudie Powell-Tuck – Mia, sad at Christmas time without her Grandpa, discovers a hidden world when she peeks into a mail box. She’s taken on a truly magical adventure with a surprise at the end.

19. Grandmother Winter, Phyllis Root – The story of how Grandmother Winter gets ready for the yearly snowfall.

20. Corduroy’s Christmas, Don Freeman – Corduroy just wants all of his friends to have the perfect Christmas gifts, he doesn’t think of himself at all.

21. The Littlest Christmas Elf, Nancy Buss – A Little Golden Book, this sweet story is about a tiny elf who just wants to help with the toy making.

22. The Christmas Crocodile, Bonny Becker – On Christmas Eve, Alice Jayne finds a crocodile under the tree. Everyone wants to get rid of him but Alice has other ideas about making him a part of their family.

23. The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, Sherri Duskey Rinker – A play off the 12 Days of Christmas, this book makes Santa decide which elf has designed the coolest new sleigh for him.

24. Santa Rex, Molly Idle – Cordelia the dino is hoping and wishing that Santa Rex will not forget to bring her all the things on her wishlist!

What favorite holiday picture books would you add to this list?


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