Just right for little ones who know enough about Christmas to experience anticipation, Nancy Tafuri‘s Counting to Christmas tells the story of a little girl and what she does as she prepares for Christmas Day!
The first page opens with the little girl opening the first flap on an advent calendar and announcing, “I’m counting to Christmas!” Each following spread tells what she does on the next few consecutive days (in groups of two or three days)–from crafts to baking to decorating–and includes an illustration of her hard at work with her huge, fluffy dog almost always at her side. The last pages of the story show her delight on Christmas morning, the love she shares with her family, and the woodland animals enjoying what she shared on Christmas Eve on a tree outside. The very end of the book includes directions for the crafts, decorations, and treats the little girl was making throughout the book.
This book is a great one to use with older toddlers to early elementary-aged children who have a hard time waiting for Christmas to come! It gives parents and caregivers ideas for things to do with children to both build up to Christmas Day and occupy eager hands and minds that grow fidgety and irritable with waiting. It is very simple, featuring just one basic sentence per spread, so even the most impatient listeners will be able to settle in long enough to read the whole thing, and brainstorming with your children about what they can do with their own family to pass the hours and days will give them a sense of anticipation that focuses on the smaller events leading up to Christmas instead of just the seemingly endless wait for the big day to arrive! (One idea for elementary-aged children for using this book: have them write their own “Counting to Christmas” book about what they personally plan on doing to prepare for Christmas!) Our family actually has three advent calendars (I’m a calendar addict!), and both the tradition and the predictable daily task help our children pace their excitement and feel a sense of completion (being able to visualize time passing, gauge how much time is left) as we approach Christmas.