Christmas book favorites {and a photo tip}

So there are bloggers that look at the calendar and logically plan out posts in advance. Bloggers, who are so organized and on top of blogging, that they would not post their favorite Advent books the day Advent begins. Bloggers who would thoughtfully write a post about Advent several weeks in advance to give others time to plan ahead for Advent too. I, unfortunately, am not one of those bloggers. I’m kind of more whatever is right in front of my face is all I can think of right now!

Advent begins today and I am sharing some of our favorite books for this season. As much as I would like to say we remember every night to sit down together to celebrate Advent, there are many days we don’t. We play catch up. So…if you are okay playing catch up too, some of you might enjoy these books.


Last year several friends recommended Jotham’s Journey. We started it half way through December and my boys did not want me to put it down. The girls weren’t ready for it, but it was perfect for my boys. It is full of adventure and thrills. It is set up in chapters that you read a little each night. Each chapter has great discussion questions at the end. It is so, so good. We can’t wait to start it back up and go at a slower pace this year. Well, my boys won’t be thrilled about about the slower pace….

12.14advent-03The Story of St. Nicholas is not an Advent book, but is one of our favorites during this season too. It tells the story of St. Nicholas and how his story led to Santa Claus.12.14advent-05

Last year I read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift. Originally, my plan was to read it as a family at night. However, it was too hard for my kids to really grasp. I’ll work through this one by myself this month. It is a beautiful book for slowing down and reflecting on Jesus and the role my faith plays out in my day to day life…especially in this season that seems so hustle and bustle.12.14advent-02This is Ann’s new book that follows The Greatest Gift. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is more family friendly and one will do as a family probably each evening. The girls aren’t ready for Jotham’s Journey, so this will be for our whole family.12.14advent-04The next pictures are in no way related to Advent or Christmas books. After I took a few pictures of the books, I got distracted by the lights and ornaments. I spent a few minutes playing with capturing the light at different settings. So, I thought I’d go ahead and include a few with a photo tip.

Photo Tip: Your lens (aperture) determines how blurry your background is in your photos – not your camera. If you are shooting in Auto mode, try switching your camera to the Av (A) mode. In this mode, you are changing your aperture. The smaller the number, the wider open the lens is…and the blurrier your background. During the day, set up an ornament with lights about a foot behind the ornament. Practice in good light changing your aperture to watch how the lights change.

Below are my settings (past SnapShop students those are for you – watch how much the ISO and shutter speed change!):

ISO 2500, 1/40, f/22


ISO 800, 1/100, f/10


ISO 320, 1/250, f/2.8


And that was random for a Monday! Also…yeah for Amazon Prime πŸ™‚

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  • Ashley - there is a story called Tabitha’s travels by the same author as Jotham’s travels…Its another advent story

  • dana - i had to laugh a little as i read the first paragraph…really, it’s like you were in my world. i LOVE “the greatest gift”…bought it weeks ago and couldn’t wait to open it this morning. well, last night, i had the brilliant thought that my 3 daughters (two live out on their own and one is in college) would probably love it too! i’m pretty sure that Amazon Prime was made for people like me!! So…the girls will get their books by Tuesday and need to do a day or two catch-up, but atleast we will be “slowing down” together and not forgetting that HE is the real gift of the season…a gift given to us…not made by us.

  • Michelle Hill - Don’t be so hard on yourself, there are some of us “blog readers” who may not even know about advent calenders and related Christmas books, so this was a great intro post πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  • Bambi - Just looking at those books makes me wanna have kids immediately! Thanks for sharing!!!

    Greetings from Italy and a lovely december to you!


  • Cathy - I love that you posted these today! I am doing books with my daughter during the season and have been on the lookout for good ones that are more than just cute stories and will have to add these to my list to get when she is ready…she is only 2.5 πŸ™‚

  • Seamingly Sarah - Hank you for sharing those books with us. I loved 1,000 gifts and can’t wait to read more of Ann’s books. The story of St. Nicholas looks really good too. I like to give my girls that perspective of Santa.

  • Carrie Olsen - As in a comment above mentioned, there are actually two more books in the Jotham series… Tabitha’s Travels and Bartholomew’s Passage. All three are equally good, full of excitement, danger, suspense, etc. And the details by the author are full of creativity, as he intertwines the lives of all three characters (done in separate books), and leading to the same ending – the birth of Christ. You’ll find yourself saying, “Oh I remember that situation from the other book.” Our family reads them every year, and yes, we have many a time where we are playing catch up.
    There is also a completely separate story, by the same author, to read during Lent… It leads up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s just as good. Enjoy!

  • Connie - Why would the St Nic book cost $35??

  • Jenny - I picked up ‘Treasuring God in Our Traditions’ by Noel Piper a few years ago and have gone back to it a few times, so keep sharing please. Also wanted to share a little advent activity we are doing this year. Inexpensive Christmas balls written on with different names Jesus Christ is known by in the scriptures (scripture is written on the other side of the ball). We have them in advent bags I made from an old sheet, then stamped with numbers. My girls (5 & 3) have been eager to nibble on the treats (also in the bag – sugary of course!!!) and see the name on the ball, then adding it to the tree.

  • Jolene - I love the ornament pictures , and the last one is my favorite! You can see your reflection in it as well, which makes it even neater πŸ™‚

  • Teresa Hilliard - The Story of St. Nicholas is a good one. We also liked Closing the Book on Santa Claus by Ron Chandler. It is about a father who tries to save his daughter’s holiday celebration after it is cancelled at the local school. He organizes a rally at city hall, but unexpected calamity prevails. My daughter made me read it to her twice.