Advent Books

These are the books the boys pulled out of our Advent book box this week.

Silent Night

This beautiful book by Susan Jeffers is a favorite of mine every year. It’s simple with just the text of the carol and gorgeous paintings.  John pronounced it “boring” this year, but he’s at that age where sometimes he likes to act too cool for school. I noticed he chose to stay and listen anyway. And he wanted to attempt to sing the carol at the end.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas

Karma Wilson has become one of my favorite picture book authors. I love the way her prose gallops along but is never annoyingly sing-songy. Her Bear books are particularly fun with the wonderful illustrations of Jane Chapman. I’d recommend any of them if you have a preschooler in your house.

How Many Miles To Bethlehem?

This book by Kevin Crossley tells the Christmas story from multiple perspectives, including that of the star. It’s more for older elementary kids than preschoolers, but the pictures are engaging enough that David was interested. The illustrations are quite formal, and had an almost medieval feel to them. It was a particularly interesting book for me so soon after this one.

One Winter's Night

This take on the Nativity tells the story of Martha, a pregnant cow who is searching for shelter. She finds it in a stable where a young human couple are also seeking shelter. The relationship to the Biblical story is slightly subtle until the end. The woman is referred to as Mary and is pregnant and in a stable. But younger kids might miss the reference without all the other familiar elements of the story. It’s more a re-imagining of the Nativity than a faithful retelling but is still respectful. At the end John asked “Is that true?” about the cow, and we talked about the difference between truth in Scripture and things that could have maybe been true but are just story.

A A Child Is Born: Child Is Born

We’ve read this book by Margaret Wise Brown for several years and this year was the first that John commented, “I didn’t know they {Mary, Joseph and Jesus} were brown.” I have to admit that although I think the paintings in this book are really beautiful and I love that the baby looks so much like a real baby (although maybe not a newborn), I have always found the depiction of the main characters as African distracting. Maybe it’s a good thing, as it makes me think about why that is each year. I do realize that it’s just as accurate (or more so) as having a blond blue-eyed Jesus but it’s also just as inaccurate. Still, it led to another good discussion about why the illustrator might have made this choice.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition

I’m a sucker for this book. It makes me cry every year which I think John and David find weird. It’s a little sentimental, but not overly so. It is long, but for the most part held David’s attention.

This week’s selection I think highlights just how varied and rich children’s picture books can be.

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