Wednesday, December 11, 2013

favorite Nativity books

Our Christmas book basket has grown quite full over the years, and I am often asked for recommendations for good Christmas books. I thought I might resurrect this blog starting with a series of Christmas book posts. To begin, I have a list of our favorite Nativity books.

Room for a Little One has been a favorite for several years. I love the soft illustrations and the gentle interaction between the animals; animals that generally do not behave kindly toward one another. The pinnacle in which the animals are able to witness the birth of Christ is quite sweet.

The Christmas Bird is a newer (to us) favorite. Although out of print, you can find plenty of used copies for a reasonable price. Bernadette Watts has been a favorite illustrator of mine for years, and she does not disappoint in this book. The story of Katya taking her favorite toy, a wooden bird whistle, to the baby King, makes it easy for children to identify with Katya and understand her frustration when the predictable mishaps appear along the journey.

Margaret Wise Brown's Christmas In the Barn is more suited to the younger set. My own children have largely outgrown it. I include it here because the story is sweet, the text simple, and the illustrations plenteous, perfect for keeping the attention of toddlers and preschoolers.

The Christmas Star is probably Finn's favorite in the stack. The silver and gold foil pictures appearing on every page definitely captures a child's attention. The watercolor illustrations are quite lovely as well. This book appears to only be available in board book right now, but numerous used copies of the hardback are available.

The next 2 in the stack are favorites purely on their artistic merit. Both use the Scriptures as their text. I can't say that any of my children would choose them if I asked them to pick a Nativity book from the stack. The stained glass illustrations in Bethlehem are exquisite. And the Scripture chosen to accompany each one is perfect.

Juan Wijngaard's The Nativity, also narrated with Scripture, reminds me of the Russian and Greek icons I bought in Rome many years ago. Each illustration a work of art in its own right, I've found it to be the perfect read for Christmas Eve.

Lastly, a favorite of nearly all my children at varying times is Away in a Manger. The all seemed to connect to the illustration of a beloved Christmas carol. I have to sing my way through this book, of course, instead of reading it. In the evening, around the Christmas tree, it creates a lovely end to the day.

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