Which Advent Calendar is Best for Your Child?

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Want a fun way to countdown the days before Christmas? Try an Advent Calendar! Some you can buy, some you can make, and one you can download from me here — a reading advent calendar to motivate children to read during the month of December.

In the Christian church, we celebrate Advent as a time of preparing our hearts for the birth of Jesus Christ. When I was growing up, my parents encouraged daily and weekly devotionals, and every Sunday, we lit a candle Advent calendar which we did at church as well.

Advent Calendars for Kids

When I had my own children, we tried a variety of activities for advent, including sweet treat calendars (chocolates!), until my girls developed food allergies. That’s when we switched to toy calendars. But we’ve also enjoyed Harry Potter socks and other clever countdown fun.

Which advent calendar will be right for your child? I’ll share our top picks from my free download to the more expensive Advent calendars to give you options.

1. Free Download — Advent Coloring Reading Calendar

Color in this Advent calendar every day you read together to encourage reading while you build excitement for the Christmas holiday.

Free Printable Reading Advent Calendar

Ask your kids to read every day for 15 minutes OR to read 1 book a day. When they do the reading, they can color in the day on the calendar.

Are your kids too young to read on their own?

No problem!

Reading aloud to a child counts as your 15 minutes or 1 book, too!

Eleonora at Rabbit and Pencil created this design.

Isn’t it cute?

For extra fun, I’ll also include a bonus sheet of engaging, interesting reading ideas to help with your December reading, too.

Reading Advent Calendar Ideas List

I hope this printable reading Advent calendar is a fun way to keep your children reading, reading, and reading leading up to Christmas.

2. Make Your Own Advent Calendar

DIY adventu calendar


Wrap 24 books to read aloud. They can be seasonal or holiday books. Unwrap and read aloud one book for each day of December. See below for book recommendations.


Using your crafty skills, you can make your own calendar with some plastic cups and other supplies. Fill the cups with candy or small toys. Directions here.

3. Buy an Advent Calendar

If you are going to buy an Advent calendar, take my advice and do it in the month of November. I can’t tell you hwo many times the calendars my kids wanted were sold out when I finally remembered around December 1.

Little People
For kids ages one and up, get a new toy each day before Christmas in the month of December with 24 friends and accessories.

Wooden Christmas Tree
From our favorite brand, Melissa & Doug, kids ages 3+ will love decorating the Christmas tree with magnetic ornaments and one star.

Super Mario
For ages 3+, get adorable figures from your favorite video game, including Snowman Mario and Snowman Luigi!

Playmobil Advent Calendar
Kids four and up will enjoy opening up the surprises that add up to a Santa’s Workshop they can play with all winter long.

LEGO Harry Potter
For ages 7+, kids will love these exciting Harry Potter figures and mini-builds.

My Little Pony
Ages 3+ will love the 16 pony figures plus more cute critters and stickers.

Funko Nightmare Before Christmas
A bit irreverent but a popular choice for fans of the movie, kids (and tweens) will love discovering which character will be behind the doors!

Harry Potter Hogwarts Christmas Pop Up
We loved opening this book to see the huge tree pop up. Each day, decorate with magical artifacts and other elements.

Christmas Tree
For every day before Christmas, kids ages 8 and up will get more pieces that will build and decorate the Christmas tree.

Winter and Christmas Books to Read Aloud

Visit My Winter Book List. Here are some favorites from the winter book list.

Free Printable Reading Advent Calendar
The Mitten
 by Jan Brett
We adore this story! A boy named Nicki convinces his grandmother to knit him white mittens and drops one in the snow. One by one, the forest animals find the mitten and crawl inside until it’s overflowing with animals — even a bear. Eventually, a surprising and funny turn of events will bring the stretched mitten back to Nikki. The detailed border designs give this story a rich flavor plus the illustrations lend to the folk tale’s sense of place.

The Deep and Snowy Wood
 by Elwyn Tate
In the deep and snowy wood,” a mole digs, a deer runs, a squirrel hops. Where are the animals going? To greet Santa because it’s Christmas Day! It’s a delightful story for preschoolers with rhyming, repetition, and simplicity. I love it!   

Free Printable Reading Advent Calendar
Winter Dance
by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Richard Jones
This beautifully illustrated and written picture book enchants readers with repeated text and soft forest scenes.Winter is coming, what should I do?” the fox asks. As he asks the different forest creatures, one by one they tell him what they do in the winter like make a chrysalis, burrow in the mud, gather and hide acorns. But, it’s not until he sees another red fox that he learns what to do. “When a million snowflakes fill the air, twirling, tumbling, spinning, waltzing, you and I join them.” It’s absolutely a joyful celebration of winter.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
by Karina Yan Glaser (ages 8+)
Like The Penderwicks, you’ll fall in love with this quirky, wonderful family from the first page. The Vanderbeekers’ landlord wants them out by the end of December but the Vanderbeeker kids are determined to change his mind, even though he hates noise, kids, and their family. But it’s almost Christmas and their efforts are only making things worse. What will they do? Charming and heart-warming.

That will get you started with winter books. But how about Christmas-themed books?

Visit My Big Christmas Book List. Here are some favorite Christmas books from the bigger list to include in your Advent reading…

Free Printable Reading Advent Calendar
Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever
by Matt Tavares
Don’t miss this heartfelt, wonderful story about hope, family, and the origins of Santa’s reindeer team. Dasher, the youngest reindeer in her family, loves her mama’s stories of the North Star and roaming free. She dreams of freedom but she’s caged in a traveling circus. Until one day, she gets a chance to escape. Dasher bravely follows the North Star, unexpectedly meeting Santa who she helps with his sleigh. Then, Dasher and Santa return for Dasher’s whole family who also helps Santa pull his sleigh. I love everything about this story!

Christmas Books for Kids
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
We LOVE this picture book story — where no Pirate cookies are harmed! Jim and his mother make gingerbread pirates and leave out the pirates for Santa. Jim keeps Captain Cookie on a plate next to his bed. Captain Cookie worries about his crew –where are they and will they be eaten by the cannibal Santa Claus? When Captain Cookie meets Santa, he learns the meaning of Christmas.

Free Printable Reading Advent Calendar
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger
by Karma Wilson
We really love this story. Mortimer is a mouse who is looking for a home. He finds a barn with statues which he pushes out when he goes to sleep. However every day, the statues get put back. Then, he hears the story of baby Jesus and the statues. That’s when Mortimer lets the baby Jesus statue stay sleeping in the manger. It’s a sweet story of the Christian meaning of Christmas. Mortimer prays for a new house — and his prayer is answered with a gingerbread house!

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig (ages 8+)
I couldn’t love this magical story anymore — it’s absolutely lovely. When trolls attack Elfhelm on Christmas Eve, they destroy Father Christmas’s sleigh, the toys, and the town which ruins Christmas. And it was only the second Christmas ever! Amelia, the girl whose hope made Christmas happen in the first place, spends Christmas locked in a workhouse, devastated when Father Christmas doesn’t come. The following year, Father Christmas tries again but the hope magic is so low his sleigh crashes him into the castle of Queen Victoria. She, Blitzen, Charles Dickens, and a brave elf newspaper reporter play important roles in helping Father Christmas rescue Amelia from the workhouse, reigniting her hope and saving Christmas.

Holiday Gift Guide

STEM Gifts
Arts & Crafts Gifts
Pretend Play Gifts
Game Gifts
Stocking Stuffers
Reading & Writing Gifts

advent calendar for kids

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