Short Story Advent Calendar returns — and there's a kids edition this year

Introduced by Hingston & Olsen, the calendar gives readers a new short story to read everyday for the 25 days leading up to Christmas.
The kids Short Story Advent Calendar is a brand new addition to the popular calendar. (Hingston & Olsen Publishing)

The popular Short Story Advent Calendar has returned, with a new edition for young readers this holiday season.

Edmonton-based Hingston & Olsen Publishing has announced the 2021 advent calendar, which gives readers a new short story to read every day for the 25 days leading up to Christmas.

This year's story collection is edited and introduced by Alberto Manguel, the first time that a guest editor takes charge of the story curation. Manguel is an Argentine Canadian writer, translator and a former Director of the National Library of Argentina.

LISTEN | Alberto Manguel on The Next Chapter:

Bestselling author, translator and critic Alberto Manguel on Fabulous Monsters, about the fictional characters who have stayed with him through a lifetime of reading.

The 2021 edition celebrates international literature by featuring 25 stories from 25 different countries. Stories by Marcel Aymé from France, Aleksandar Hemon from Bosnia, José Saramago from Portugal, Muriel Spark from Scotland and Leo Tolstoy from Russia are included in the latest edition.

The kids' Short Story Advent Calendar, a brand new addition to the calendar, will also include 25 stories, each accompanied by an original cover illustration. Featured writers include Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit; Kenneth Oppel, writer of Inkling; and Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming.

(Hingston & Olsen Publishing)

"The idea for a kids' advent calendar has been in our minds ever since we launched the first adult version, back in 2015. We would sell them at craft fairs and the like, and the number-one question we got was always: 'Is there a kids' version?'," Michael Hingston, the co-founder of Hingston & Olsen and the editor for the past five iterations, told CBC Books in an email.

"Kids are the most dedicated and voracious demographic of readers out there, so it was a fun challenge trying to come up with a lineup of 25 stories that will keep them guessing over the course of December."

LISTEN | Michael Hingston on the Short Story Advent Calendar:

Michael Hingston talks to Shelagh Rogers about what inspired the Short Story Advent Calendar and what to expect in the 2018 edition.

First introduced in 2015, the Short Story Advent Calendar has been running every holiday season and sold more than 15,000 copies. But it almost came to an end last year.

"I was worried that the idea might be starting to get old amongst our readers. But after the announcement, we got so much feedback from people who desperately wanted it to continue, that we realized we couldn't let it go after all," said Hingston.

The past six years of the calendar featured stories from notable North American authors. Last year's calendar included stories by Sara O'Leary, Jim Shepard and Adam Sternbergh.

Hingston & Olsen is an independent publisher run by Hingston and designer Natalie Olsen. 

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