Saturday, December 24, 2016

Advent: Nativity Books

Our family loves books, and years ago I stumbled upon the idea to wrap up holiday books before the start of advent, and mark the countdown to Christmas by opening up a book each day. We've done this several years now, and it's a tradition that both of my girls love - as soon as they awake in the morning, they are making their selection for the day and tearing into it.

There are some books that I know are only in our home temporarily (especially board books, which will age out as my youngest develops a longer attention span), but I thought it would be fun to share what is currently in our collection. Please feel free to contribute suggestions; there are several titles on my wishlist, and each year I try to add at least one new book to the rotation.

If you are interested in starting your own tradition but don't have many Christmas books on hand and are intimidated by the cost of buying dozens of books, I recommend you collect all year, keeping an eye out at garage sales and library sales (my library is kind enough to have a holiday section, which I go straight to each year). Then I enhance my collection via Amazon (the Amazon links here are affiliate links, meaning that should you make any purchase via these links, Amazon will give me a small percentage, at no additional cost to you).

As our pile is pretty diverse, I'm going to do this in installments. The first (and largest) installment focused on the general interest Christmas books, which was followed by a list of our winter-themed books, and our small collection of baby- and toddler-friendly board books. Here I conclude by sharing the books that celebrate the nativity story.

Also, one suggestion (that I have yet to implement myself): when you're packing away the books for the year, I suggest taking the time to wrap them then, so you're not rushing yourself once Advent rolls around again (one year I was wrapping some books every few days, as I didn't have enough time to do them all before we began). Otherwise, I'm hoping to sew reusable bags to easily insert them in, so as to save time and eliminate the wrapping paper waste.

The Christmas Story by Carol Heyer
I love the vivid illustrations in this biblical telling of the nativity story.

Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean
Here the author imagines Joseph reflecting on parenthood, on what will be in store for him as he attempts to be a suitable father to his own perfect Savior.

A couple friends recommended this title to me and it took time for me to find a used copy at a price I was comfortable paying (it's no longer in print and used copies fluctuate widely in price online, but in time for Christmas 2017, I was able to track down a good copy inexpensively).

The First Night by B.G. Hennessy
This is a simple story, starting from the edge of the town and steadily centering on the stable and then ending with Jesus seeing the world for the first time as a small baby.

The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
Several years ago I checked out this title from the library. I hadn't yet started my advent book tradition, but once I did, I knew I wanted this to be one of the included titles. I didn't luck out at any used sales, so our family is enjoying a new copy for Christmas 2017.

The text is the lyrics of the familiar song. We see a poor peasant boy learn of Jesus' birth. He longs to bring a gift but only has his ability to drum. Lacking any monetary gifts, he offers a song.

The Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas
The text of this story is the King James version of the familiar account in Luke. What is especially charming about this book, and what makes me want to keep this in rotation for as long as I do this advent calendar with the girls, are the illustrations. They're so distinctive and done in a beautiful way that makes the story approachable.

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
In a beautifully illustrated book, animals, one by one, are looking for warm shelter and find comfort in a stable. There is pleasant repetition with animals pledging safety to each other and how there's always room for another little one. The hospitality is extended to Tired Donkey, who is traveling with Mary and Joseph.

The Story of the Three Wise Kings retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Here we have a story that focuses on the journey of the wise kings. The illustrations are classic dePaola, which make the book especially captivating. It was one I picked up at the local library book sale a few years back, although I see now that it's hard to come by, so keep your eyes open at thrift stores and garage sales if you don't want to pony up the money for a used copy.

This Is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
Rhyming couplets describe Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph, Jesus' birth, the visit from the shepherds, and so on ("This is the stable, dusty and brown, in a quiet corner of Bethlehem town.")

This Is the Star by Joyce Dunbar
The illustrations are prints of oil paintings, and the text of this book steadily grows (page one: "This is the star in the sky"; page two: "These are the shepherds watching by night that saw the star in the sky.")

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