Wednesday, November 18, 2015

10 Christmas Books for Children Which Focus on Jesus' Birth

Listen to this plea from a friend who called me recently: "My teachers are begging me for something other than stories about Santa or Christmas "fluff" to read to the kids (pre schoolers). Do you know of any I can buy?" 

I immediately understood the teacher's lament. I faced the same dilemma when a librarian. Our shelves had plenty of books about Santa, elves, cookies, presents, mischievous dogs who got tangled up in holiday lights, and of course, "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," but very few exceptional titles about Christ's birth. You know the kind I'm talking about: books worthy of making the bestseller list because of their exceptional art and stellar writing. 

Loving a challenge and wanting to help, I told my friend I'd do a little research and get back to her. 

A Few Suggestions

After reading a stack of possibilities, these are the ten picture books I recommended to her. Not all are for pre school age but can easily be abbreviated for story time. 

Product Details“Mortimer’s Christmas Manger” by Karma Wilson. A sweet story, with colorful artwork throughout, about a mouse who takes over a nativity scene as his new home. All is well until he hears the family read the Christmas story and realizes his mistake and the importance of making room for Jesus. 

Product Details"The Perfect Christmas Pageant" by Joyce Meyer. I found myself smiling as I read this book, enjoying Meyer's humor pop up throughout the story. A hippo named Hayley is the main character who is determined to create the "perfect" pageant as a "perfect" gift to Jesus. After several mishaps the hippo switches her focus to Jesus, instead of delivering a perfect Christmas play. Illustrations definitely assist in telling the story, especially via the comical expressions on various zoo animals. Hard not to like this book. 
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“Christmas in the Manger” by Nola Buck. This 16-page board book presents a simple story about various people and animals at Christ’s birth. The basic rhyming text and graphics (one animal per page) are ideal for a 1-2 year old.                         
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"Itsy Bitsy Christmas" by Max Lucado. This master storyteller has done it again--written another charming tale which teaches a spiritual lesson. This time he uses two tiny mice, named Itsy and Bitsy, to help children understand that Jesus came for everyone, big or small. The illustrations are wonderful and the touches of humor Max works into the story made me wish I had my own personal copy.

Product Details“The Very First Christmas” illustrated by Kelly Pulley. Text for this book is based on passages in Scripture (Luke and Matthew) and comes directly from “The Beginner’s Bible” which has sold over 5 million copies. Apparently a lot of parents or grandparents like this book! Colorful graphics appear on each of the 32 pages. I like the way the story is broken up into segments so you can pause at different points if you so choose, or read all in one sitting. 

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“Who Is Coming to Our House?” By Joseph Slate. Though this book has been around since 1988 it does not seem outdated. The graphics are colorful, bold and complement the concise rhyming text about a group of barn animals busy preparing for a special guest. Story is a nice way to introduce young ones to Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus

Product Details“The Very First Christmas” by Paul L. Maier. Though only 32 pages in length this large picture book includes a lot of text. Meier wanted to provide a book that went beyond the basics of the Christmas story and delve into history and more. Its intended audience is older children, probably 7-9 years of age, who can read on their own and curious to know the facts found in and around the Christmas story. Design of book is nice and graphics definitely assist in conveying story. 

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“God Gave Us Christmas” by Lisa Tawn Bergren. This is a good book for a parent and child to read together. The story starts with a tiny cub asking his Mama, “Who invented Christmas?” She answers him using things they see in their day to teach him about God and Jesus. I like the book’s graphics but find the text and theology presented a bit too advanced for toddlers. 

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"What is Christmas?” By Michelle Medlock Adams. Great little board book with copy that rhymes! And we know kids like rhymes, right? Uses a repetitive question about all the different activities or aspects of Christmas to help children grasp that Jesus is what Christmas is really about.  

“The Crippled Lamb” by Max Lucado. A beautiful book by a popular author who knows how to write a compelling story. This one is about Joshua, a little lamb, who feels alone and left out as he is forced to remain in the barn. But by the story's end he finds God had a purpose for him there. Due to length of copy, book is probably more suitable for child who is a capable reader. But don’t overlook the idea of becoming familiar with the story, and condensing it so a toddler can enjoy it too. Very nice illustrations. 

Problem Solved

Even before I had this list done my friend bought several of these titles and plans to buy more. As for the teachers . . . pretty sure they are happy and looking forward to reading to the children this December. 

What about you? Drawn to a book among my suggestions for your son or daughter, or grandchild? Hope so, as you are a key reason why I wrote this post prior to the holiday rush. I wanted to give you adequate time to request a copy from the library, or better yet, place your order online and have it arrive in time to enjoy before Christmas. 

Just my way to help you minimize the stress this Christmas! 

P.S. Can't exit without mentioning "The Christmas Jars." It's a remarkable little book for we adults. So inspiring. 

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