Monday, December 9, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: The Advent Calendar Wars (Animal Jam Vs. Literacy)

Image courtesy of Feelart /
I’ve never been big on advent calendars. Opening little doors to reveal cheap candy or trinkets? Whoop. Dee. Doo. Where’s the thrill in that? But, when a Facebook friend shared an idea for a literary advent calendar, I thought I’d give this holiday staple another chance. The idea seemed easy enough: wrap 24 books, stack ‘em, open one each day. 
In my Ideal Reality, this non-traditional advent calendar was going to be the perfect new tradition for our bibliophilic (book lovin’) family. We could avoid the proliferation of plastic toys and cheap chocolate (both of which would end up in the trash), spend a few quality moments as a family and give the peeps another opportunity to show off their mad reading skills.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, I scoured thrift shops and the peeps’ bedroom bookshelves for 24 gently used (or forgotten) books that I could quickly wrap and stack. Many of them sport a Christmas theme, but some I included because I knew they would interest the girls. The last book they will open is ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. (I know, very clever and totally original.) I wrapped all the books and had them ready to go by my planned Dec. 1 unveiling. Imagine my delight when the peeps bought into the idea!  

And then, my Real Reality barged in, front-and-center, in the form of Animal Jam. The peeps’ addiction to this kid-friendly online virtual world created by National Geographic Kids is amazing. In all honestly, it is a pretty cool game, especially for animal-loving kids with over-the-top wild imaginations. But, in a move of pure marketing genius, the Animal Jam gods totally trumped my homemade advent calendar by offering one of its own: 24 virtual gifts for the players’ characters. Log on and open one gift a day until the fat man and his reindeer show up. How can my stack of books compete with gems, diamonds, turkey hats and sweaters for fake animals? Seriously. Well played, Animal Jam, well played.

Yes, the girls’ excitement for our advent calendar has waned a bit, but they do continue to show some enthusiasm for unwrapping and reading a new book each night. I’ll take what I can get.

What’s your advent calendar tradition? Share, please
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing … Keep It Real.

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