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Friday, December 5, 2014

Our Favorite Christmas Books

. "In such a house, one did not suddenly stub one's toe on Christmas and frantically rush about preparing for it at the last minute, as if it were a disaster. In such a house, the whole year was tilted toward Christmas..." The Christmas Pony by Helen McCully and Dorothy Crayder

My husband loves Christmas. You might say that his whole year is "tilted toward Christmas." When we got married, I married into a full collection of Christmas books and decorations, and we've only added to it since we've had children. We both enjoy spending the month of December reading our favorite Christmas fiction and celebrating Advent, so it was hard to narrow down our favorite books. These are the ones we return to each year with great pleasure and anticipation.
The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas by Madeline L'Engle. This was my husband's favorite book as a child. I am so glad he shared it with me, as this short novel has become a whole family favorite and annual read for us. This book features the Austin family from L'Engle's series Meet the Austins, but can be read as a stand-alone. This is a particularly special book because it's about a family celebrating Advent. On each day of December, they do something special: they take out a special decoration, make their wreaths, sing carols. In the book, seven-year-old Vicky is practicing to be the angel in the Christmas pageant, but her mother is due with a new baby right at Christmas time, and she fears that her mother will miss the pageant, and Christmas will be ruined.
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck is the most beautiful Christmas book we own, both the illustrations and the story. It's the story of a son who wants to show his love for his father, but doesn't have any money. The surprise he comes up with for his father is so touching and generous. We love this book, and it doesn't hurt that Pearl Buck was born in the same spot in West Virginia where I grew up.
  
This is the classic I most remember from my childhood. The Herdmann family threatens to ruin the church Christmas pagaent, but instead they make it one of the most memorable and touching nights of the year. Funny and true to life, this book is a favorite.
It's become part of our annual tradition to listen to this audiobook on the way home from our Thanksgiving trip to West Virginia. Not surprisingly, this book by Dave Barry is really funny, but it also is really touching too. It's the story of a family and a Christmas play, a dying dog named Frank, and how another dog name Walter and a whole lot of frozen bat poop saved Christmas.
This is another audiobook,which we listen to annually. It's the third in the Grandma Dowdel series by Richard Peck. The audio is read by one of our very favorite readers:Ron McLarty, so it is not to be missed. Christmas doesn't come until the very end of this book, but it's worth the wait. If you haven't listened to the whole series starting with A Long Way from Chicago and followed by A Year Down Yonder, you can't miss the first two either.
  
I am always looking for fun books that feature the nativity. We love this one. It's about a little mouse who decides to move into the nativity scene, but when he hears the story of Christmas, he realizes his mistake. He gets a surprise new home in return. Very cute for younger children.
A Night the Stars Danced for Joy by Bob Hartman is such an interesting book about a family of shepherds who visit the stable where Jesus is born. Each member of the family brings his or  her own wishes and desires for healing from physical and emotional pain, and they find redemption in their visit to Jesus. There's a lot of emotional depth to this beautifully illustrated picture book.
My oldest daughter declared that The Town that Forgot About Christmas by Susan K. Leigh is her favorite Christmas book. It's the story of a man named Matthew who moves to a town that has forgotten about Christmas. Through his healing presence and the carving of a nativity scene, the families in the town learn to connect with each other again and with the story of Christmas.
Song of the Stars is a beautiful picture book by Sally Lloyd-Jones. In this story, all of the animals in the world anticipate the birth of Christ. We love Sally Lloyd-Jones and this picture book is a great addition to the Bible story in the Jesus Storybook Bible also by Lloyd-Jones, which has our favorite reading of the Biblical story of Christmas.
We love The Three Wise Women of Christmas by Dandi Daley MacKall because it highlights the beautiful stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. I especially love that they feature Anna, as she is not often featured in picture books. A great addition to Advent if you would like to learn about all of the characters in the nativity story.
Who is Coming to Our House by Joseph Slate. We received this sweet board book from our neighbors when our oldest daughter was born, and it's our favorite  nativity book to share with toddlers. I love the woodcut illustrations and simple, rhythmic text.

1 comment:

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