Monday, December 1, 2014

Festive little library

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the halls are decked, and the tree has already been decorated (twice, thanks to that toppling-over event).

But it's not really Christmas around here until we unpack the Christmas books, and the kids know it.

So today, we did just that. And we've done little else all morning but reread the books we haven't seen since last year. And, oh, how I've missed them!

And in case you love Christmas and quality reading material and sharing good books with your kids as much as I do, here's a list of my favorite Christmas books. I'm sure this list will change over time as we add new material to our collection each year. But this year, these are the ones we'll be reading again and again.

This is by far my favorite Christmas book, and it's going to take a lot to knock it out of the top spot. I'm not afraid to admit that I cannot make it through a single reading of this book without tears coming to my eyes. There is something so moving and so amazing about the way the author describes all of creation--from the wind in the trees to the sandpiper on the shore to the sheep in the fields--sensing that something amazing is happening on that first Christmas night. Jesus' arrival on earth is anticipated as the characters cry out "The Mighty King! ...At last, he's here! ...Our Rescuer!" But the final page is my favorite, when the author celebrates "Heaven's son, sleeping under the stars that he made." If you only buy one book this year, buy this one.

And then, on a lighter note, there's Humphrey the camel. This book is perfect for kids, because it is, first of all, hysterical. Told from the point of view of a camel, it chronicles Humphrey's valiant efforts to replace the beloved blanket that once adorned his back as he carries one of the wise men to visit Jesus. Upon seeing the Child, the over-dramatic camel is so moved that he gives up his treasure. The dialogue is hilarious, and my kids love hearing the story of the baby in a manger told from different perspectives, so this is an excellent addition to our collection.

This is my favorite baby's first Christmas book. It's a board book, so little ones will find it difficult to destroy, which is great, since they don't really appreciate it until the next year anyway. Each page has a simple, short line of text and a colorful picture that tell the story of the animals in the stable preparing a place for Mary and Joseph. Each animal has a simple job to do as they get the barn ready, and this story offers an opportunity to talk with my toddlers and my older kids about the little things we can do to get ready for Jesus. 

This is a longer book than the others (11 chapters in all), but great for independent readers or anyone committed to reading a book over the course of a few days. In it, the Christmas story is told in its entirety, for as one character explains: "The first Christmas happened almost two thousand years ago....But the story doesn't begin there. It couldn't have because the angel called Jesus a 'savior,' or a rescuer. Someone must have been in trouble." And so the story of God's rescue mission, and the little Baby who was at the center of it, is told from the creation to the resurrection. I love that this story puts Christmas in a bigger context and helps my kids understand how God's sovereignty has been at work throughout history.

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