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Today, I’m going to help you figure out which plan to follow this year for Advent reading with your kids.
We’ve been celebrating advent with our 4 kids since the oldest was about 2. With toddlers, we kept our Advent traditions very simple & toddler-friendly. As our youngest child has aged out of the toddler age, we’ve shifted to a “big kid” version of Advent.
Regardless of your kids’ ages, Advent can become a very sweet & meaningful tradition that even young children look forward to. Most importantly, it’s a great way to focus our hearts & minds on Jesus during the Christmas season.
So, let’s dive right in!
What Should Kids Read for Advent?
There are lots of options for an Advent reading plan, which I’ll share below. Don’t get overwhelmed. Remember, there is no “best” way to do Advent readings with your kids. Pick something that sounds doable for your family & your current season of life and stick to that this year. If it goes well, keep it. If you want to change it next year, you can.
The 2 main ways people approach Advent readings are either daily or weekly.
Typically, people who follow a daily reading schedule read something each day that traces the entire story of the Bible leading up to the birth of Jesus. This type of reading might include a Jesse Tree or ornaments on your Christmas tree as well. Here are some ideas for incorporating a simple Jesse Tree into your Advent tradition.
Often a daily schedule will include a Bible reading plan or daily devotional readings beginning on December 1st.
Alternatively, you can do a weekly reading schedule, which usually includes a reading each Sunday during the month of December. Typically, the weeks are laid out like this:
- First Sunday – Hope
- Second Sunday – Love
- Third Sunday – Joy
- Fourth Sunday – Peace
- Christmas Day – celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Some people read the weekly topic reading on Sunday (or hear it at church), and then expand on that concept by doing different readings that go along with that topic throughout the week.
Below, I’ll share a BUNCH of options (both free and paid) that you can choose from for Advent Readings with Kids.
There are so many ideas out there, it’s honestly overwhelming. Rather than share all 1,000 advent reading options on the internet with you, I’ve narrowed down the choice to things I would actually choose to use with our own children.
Daily Advent Reading for Kids
1. Jesus Storybook Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible is my all-time favorite go to option for Advent. Our family has used it for years. The Bible is only $10-15, and it has 25 stories leading up to the birth of Jesus. The stories are beautifully told – kids & adults both enjoy it and learn from it. The illustrations are amazing too. IF you want little ornaments to go with each story, you can buy handmade ornaments to go with the Bible, make them yourself, or print out this free Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide on a color printer!
2. The Advent Storybook
This book takes a similar approach to the Jesus Storybook Bible in that the 25 stories collectively trace God’s promises through the Old Testament to send a Rescuer and it leads up to Jesus’ birth at Christmas. Each story begins with a key verse & ends with a question to think about and discuss with your kids. A good friend of mine has used this every year since it was written and loves it for her littles. It’s great for ages 3-8 (ish).
3. Nativity Based Daily Advent Readings
Another blogger on the internet wrote 25 days of Advent readings that introduce the nativity scene figures day by day while also building a sense of anticipation for Jesus’ coming. The readings are short & sweet and they include additional scripture readings as well as a short prayer. Here is a sample:
I really LOVE this idea for visualizing the birth of Christ and Christmas story with younger kids.
You can download the whole thing for free on their website here! It’d help to have a good Nativity set for this approach. I really like this wooden Christmas Advent calendar one if you can splurge for $100. It’s more ‘heirloom’ style than a toy. But the pieces look very kid friendly. Otherwise, we have this Bible Toys Nativity Scene, which my kids love. And I also really like the Playmobil brand Nativity Scene. I also love this old school flannel/felt board one – you could hang a piece of felt on the wall to use with it for December.
4. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
Ann Voskamp writes in a way that beautifully portrays the longing of God’s people for the birth of Christ. I love her Advent devotional for adults, and this family version is just as sweet. It’s best for older kids… ages 5 and up would get something out of it though. You can buy the book or do the ornament calendar & devotional version. If you want something more reusable, this cute handmade ornament set goes along with the Greatest Gift book.
5. 25 Readings Straight Out of Scripture
Another option is to skip the Advent devotionals style book and just read 25 readings directly from God’s Word. (I like reading from the New Living Translation with kids.)
A friend of mine created these printable cards for a Jesse Tree Advent ornament exchange party one year. Basically, everyone took two of the readings and made 12 copies of an ornament that went with each reading. Then, we all came together and swapped ornaments! This way you ended up with 25 ornaments – one for each Bible reading December 1-25. Since my friend made them for a group, there are 4 per page, but just toss the extras! 😊
6. The Christmas Promise
I love these Tales that Tell the Truth books. This is their Christmas book and calendar for Advent – The Christmas Promise. We’ve never owned a copy, it gets GREAT reviews, especially for use with elementary school aged kids.
Advent Readings Week by Week
7. Readings that Include the Kids
This blog post has 5 free printable readings that you can use with your kids. If I were using this, I’d copy & paste the text, and edit it to say each of my kid’s names instead of “child 1, child 2,” etc. Then, I’d print a copy for each child that is old enough to read, and also print a copy of the Christmas hymn lyrics that went with that week. This would be a very sweet family time during the busy holiday season. I love that everyone can be included in the reading, and that there are discussion questions and a recommended hymn that go along with each week.
8. Bonus Readings for Hope, Love, Joy & Peace Advent Themes
I found a list of scripture readings that go along with the traditional Advent themes of Hope, Love, Joy & Peace. The idea is to read one each day of the week after your Sunday church service introduces the theme. You could also use the free printable readings above on Sundays with your family and then read one verse each day during the following week.
- Hope – Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 2:10, Luke 2:12, Matthew 1:21, Acts 5:31 Luke 1:26-27
- Love – Luke 1:28, Luke 1:30, Luke 1:31, Luke 1:32, John 1:14, Matthew 1:22-23
- Joy – Luke 2:1-3, Luke 2:4-5, Luke 2:6-7, Romans 15:13, 2 Cor. 9:15, Psalm 29:11
- Peace – Isa. 9:6, Isa. 9:7, Luke 2:7, Luke 2:8, Luke 2:9, Luke 2:10
- Christmas Eve or Christmas Day – Luke 2:11-14
9. Names of Jesus 7 Days
This Names of Jesus ornament pack & mini book looks unique! You could almost use it as a bonus study any time around the season of Advent. I think it’d be a great supplement to the weekly readings option. You could swap this booklet out for the last week of Advent readings from above. Or, you could do reading every Sunday from mid November to Christmas, or one per day in the 7 days leading up to Christmas. You could even do this one in the 7 days AFTER Christmas, kind of as a celebration of Jesus being born!
An Advent Wreath is a popular visual to go along with the Hope, Love, Joy & Peace themes. Traditionally, you’d light one candle each week so that 1 was lit for Hope, 2 were lit for Love, 3 for Joy & 4 for Peace. (Often there are pink, white, or purple candles.) Here are a bunch of simple wreath & candle options under $25.
You can even just snag a cheap large white candle and light it during Advent reading time to help mark the family tradition.
How Do You Explain Advent to a Child?
For a younger child, keep the explanation simple. Say, “It’s December which is the season of Advent. Advent means ‘coming.’ We’re going to celebrate the COMING of Jesus every day until Christmas.” Have the child repeat the phrase, “Advent means coming… Jesus came!” several times in a variety of fun ways. (Singing, shouting, whispering, jumping up and down, etc…)
Then, just pick one simple reading & calendar tradition from the above ideas and call it Advent. Do it 2 years in a row, and it’ll stick! Your kids will start to look forward to it then.
It helps to have the materials gathered in one basket or spot and to pull them out at the same time every day. When our children were very young, we did our Advent reading after naptime because they had energy & a snack to keep their hands/ mouths busy. Then, when Dad got home from work, they just told him about it and helped him find the new Advent ornament on the tree.
As our schedule & season of life has changed, we’ve shifted to doing our Advent readings all together as a family at the breakfast or dinner table.
For older children, you might explain that the word Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means coming. During Advent, we celebrate both the first coming of Jesus as a baby in a manger, and we look forward to the second coming of Jesus when he’ll return in glory to reign as King forever and ever. You could choose Advent readings from above for December and read the Book of Revelation during January to have further discussion about Christ’s second coming. You could also listen to Handel’s Messiah, which is traditionally sung at Christmas, but actually is about Christ’s second coming.
My Other Christmas & Advent Resources
- Guide to SIMPLE Advent with Toddlers [Printable Calendar]
- Toddler Gifts Your Kids Will Actually Play with (For Years to Come!)
- A FAILED Attempt at a Meaningful Advent with Toddlers Our First Year Doing Advent with Small Children
- How to Cash Flow Christmas – Saying No to Credit Cards!
- Jesse Tree with Kids
- 31 Simple & Fun Advent Activities for Families