I love to read. If I can't find a good book, I'll read the back of a cereal box. I'll read just about anything that I can get my hands on. I also love children's books. I think there's nothing better than a well-illustrated, well-written children's book that makes a story come alive. Chapter books for elementary school kids are also some of my favorites. Do better books exist than Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte's Web and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe?
Christmas offers up some great read-alouds for your family. If you don't have some favorite Christmas stories that you read at Christmastime, start that tradition today. Our whole family looks forward each year to reading about how the Herdmans wreaked havoc on The Best Christmas Pageant Ever or about the donkey Mary rode to Jerusalem in The Small One.
Many of the books we read at Christmas offer opportunities to apply some Biblical principles. They allow us to follow the admonition of Philippians 4:8, which says "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Spend some time sharing with a story and some discussion with your kids in this week before Christmas.
To help you get started, here are a few of our favorites along with some ideas for discussion.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson -- You haven't experienced Christmas unless you've spent it with the Herdmans (quite possibly the worst kids ever) and seen the impact they made on the church Christmas pageant.
- Ask your kids why they think the Herdmans acted the way they did.
- Ask your kids if they think that Jesus loves the Herdmans.
- Talk about how Jesus came to earth to save everyone, even people we think are "bad."
- Ask your kids who in the story understood the true meaning of Christmas.
- The Small One by Alex Walsh and Jesse Clay -- A fictional account of the donkey who would take Mary to Bethlehem and the power of friendship and sacrifice.
- Ask your kids how they think the little boy felt when he knew he would have to sell his donkey.
- Ask your kids how hard they think it was for both the donkey and the boy when they knew the boy would have to sell the donkey to the tanner.
- Ask your kids how they think the boy felt when Joseph stepped in and saved the donkey.
- Compare how Joseph saved the donkey with how Jesus saved us.
- Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Dick Schneider -- A story of how a tree gave of itself until its branches were bent and broken and it was no longer worthy of being the queen's Christmas tree.
- Ask your kids why they think the tree gave so much.
- Ask your kids if they think the tree's sacrifice was worth it.
- Ask your kids why they think the queen eventually chose the imperfect tree over the perfect one.
- Talk about why it's important to give of ourselves to others.
Whatever your favorite read-aloud is, look for ways to tie it back into the important principles of Christmas, and enjoy the time snuggled together with your kids on the couch.