Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13 Christmas Stories to Prepare Little Hearts for Advent

I told you I'd share some of our favorite Christ centered Christmas books with you... finally, I'm ready to do so. I'll start in age order and tell you what I (or we) love about each.

Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate. I love the simplicity of this book... beautiful animal illustrations by Wolff keep the littlest ones' attention. The animals prepare the stable for the arrival of Christ, it's great way to start conversations about preparing our hearts for Christmas. Very basic language-- which also makes it a great for emerging readers.

Nighty Night, Baby Jesus by Molly Schaar Idle. I love the illustrations. Not heavy on theology, more about animals, but still gives some basics of the story of Christmas. Good for little ones just learning about Christmas.

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martine Waddell. Lovely illustrations by Cockcroft a story of animals welcoming each other to the stable, and then welcoming the baby to the stable. I love the thread of compassion that runs it's way through this story and how that can be a jumping off point to discuss compassionate acts to others. I also love that it ends with the line: "a Little One came for the world." I think that's a great way to begin discussing why Christ came to earth.
The Stable Where Jesus Was Born by Rhonda Gowler Greene. There's a sweetness in the sing-songy verses of the story. Honestly, I love  that the characters in this story (illustrated by Gaber) don't look European, which is found very often in Christmas stories... although, I believe that's not the case as often as it has been in the past.

Christmas Night: Fair and Bright by Stiegemeyer. Honestly, at first I judged the book by the cover... or at least the title. But through the rhymes of this book, it tells why Christ came, with sentences such as: "In Him God's rescue has begun. He's Jesus, born for us." and "Born our Savior, born to cry, born to suffer, born to die. All our sin on Him will lie, on Jesus , born for us." I love this book for preschoolers and early elementary age and think it's a must for your Christmas library!

The Christmas Story by Jane Werner. I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for Eloise Wilkin's work... I love her illustrations and she's well known for her work for A Little Golden Book. Werner's story seems to be more a paraphrase of scriptures written for little ones. Easily understandable but very close to Luke's and Matthew's accounts.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo. Beautiful illustrations by Ibatoulline, this books tells the story of a little girl who reaches out to a homeless man. I love this story because I think it's great way to start conversation about sharing our faith and the joy of Christ with others.

The Nativity by Julie Vivas. The text is taken straight from KJV which makes it a bit more difficult for little ones to understand... especially if they are not yet familiar with the Christmas story. However, my favorite part of this story is the illustrations. Beautiful, strikingly different, I love Gabriel's boots and Mary's clothesline! Be advised that baby Jesus is completely nude and definitely a boy. No big deal in this house with a baby boy of our own, but I suppose may bring questions if you have a household of all girls.

Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki. Santa tells the story of Christ's birth in this beautifully illustrated book. I love how Santa tells the animals that Christmas has nothing to do with him.

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. Joshua, the lamb is heart-broken when he is left in the stable and is unable to go with the other sheep to another pasture. His friend, the cow keeps reminding him that: "God has a special place for those who feel left out." On Christmas, he is able to keep the baby warm in the stable and Joshua understands his purpose and special place is to warm the newborn king.

King of the Stable by Melody Carlson. When Matthew has to leave his father's fine house and go live with his uncle who is an inn keeper, he feels alone. Instead of being served, he is placed in charge of the stable. When Jesus, the King of Heaven is born in his stable, he understands how much Christ must have given up for him.

Mary's First Christmas by Walter Wangerin Jr. Beautifully illustrated by Ladwig, the story  is told from Mary's perspective as she relating it to Jesus. Broken up into four chapters, it would be great to read a chapter every Advent Sunday or just the few days leading up to Christmas.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Perfect for upper-elementary, I used to read this book to my public school students because I could get away with it. Ahem. When the Herdmans, a wild and just plain mean  family of children, decide to bully their way into the pivotal roles of the Christmas pageant, everyone is quick to assume the entire pageant will be a complete and total disaster. But as the Herdmans hear the Christmas Story for the first time, their hearts are softened by the Gospel and although they are still full of antics and are definitely rough around the edges the pageant ends up being memorable in more ways than one.

Hopefully this list will aid you in finding some new stories to add to your family's Christmas library. Are there any favorites of yours out there that I missed and should check out?


Shannon :: The Scribble Pad said...

thank you so much for sharing. This is our son's first Christmas, and the world of books is huge and nto always God-honoring. If you had to get/read just one, which would it be?

Bethany said...

Shannon, I think for the littlest ones, I would go with Who is Coming to Our House? because it's a board book and very, very simple. My other favorite for more of a pre-school age to primary school would be Christmas Night, Fair and Bright because of the clear Gospel presentation.