Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Christmas Books for Ages 0-5

Life is Good: Christmas is coming!

We are really enjoying Advent around here at the How to be Pleasant house! We've been trying to keep these days before Christmas peaceful and contemplative. One way we do this is by having a tradition of reading Christmas books each evening before bed. During the day, I have our favorites on the coffee table for the kids to look at or for me to read to them. Each year, I buy a new book for each child and give it to them on the first day of Advent. In no particular order, here are our top ten favorites (plus a few more):

1. The Nativity
This one is based on the King James bible, which is the version that my dad reads aloud to our family every Christmas before we pray as a family and then open gifts.

2. Room for a Little One
Nice repetition for smaller kids, this book focuses on a kind ox who invites animal after animal (each other's prey) to share his stable. The culmination of this book about generosity and inclusiveness is the invitation to Joseph and Mary and eventually, Jesus. A simple, but meaningful story, I also like the dreaming visuals.

3. God Gave Us Christmas
We fell in love with this series with "God Gave Us You". In fact, I often give that book as a gift for a first baby. It's message is perfection to me. God Gave Us Christmas begins with Little Cub asking about who invented Christmas and wanting to look for Santa Claus. Instead, Mama Bear takes Little Cub on an adventure to find God in the magnificent surroundings. Indeed, God is everywhere.

4. Little Golden Book The Christmas Story
You can tell that this book was written many years ago. I like the old-school artwork in this book and the fact that they tell the story beginning with who Mary was and who Joseph was and how they came to know that they would be the parents of Jesus.

5. Who is Coming to Our House
This was one of the first Christmas books I bought for our big kid. It is really perfect for little ones because of its repetition. A story about animals preparing the stable so that Mary & Joseph can arrive and baby Jesus can be born, now our big kid likes to read it to our two-year old.

6. Song of the Stars
This book has magical artwork and lyrical words. It tells the Christmas story from the perspective of the animal and natural world. Excitement builds as we hear how "the skies shouted it to the seas that thundered it to the waves" and more.

7. Christmas Angels
We have both the hardcover (with pop ups) and board book (shortened) versions of this book. (My mom must have really liked it, huh!?!) We chose to read this with our Goddaughter the other night before we decorated Christmas cookies and opened Christmas gifts together. We like this one because it tells the Christmas story beginning with who Mary was and how she was told that she would be Jesus' mother. It also talks about Herrod and that he was a threat to Joseph, Mary, Jesus. Throughout the book, angels are emphasized for their communication roles. On the final page, it talks about how we don't always see angels, but they are all around us and that the same is true of Jesus.

8. The Story of Christmas
The first page of this board book asks, "Do you know why we give gifts at Christmas?" and answers that it is to celebrate baby Jesus' birthday. It then tells the story of Jesus' birth in bite-sized pieces easy for a baby and toddler to understand. It ends by saying that we give gifts to show each other our love and to say, "Happy birthday, baby Jesus!"

9. This is the Stable
This book has a peaceful, sleepy cadence. The repetition is great for little ones, but it is so much more. Each page addresses a piece of the nativity from the star to the shepherds to the wise men. I really like that the artist chose to show more Middle Eastern-looking people in this one. Jesus was most likely not blue-eyed with blonde hair!

10. Nighty Night, Baby Jesus
This one is great for the under 3 crowd because it uses the sounds of the animals in the stable to tell the story of their discovery of Jesus. But older preschoolers will like it, too, mostly for its cartoon-like visuals.

11. The Crippled Lamb
Not the most "politically-correct" title, but a lovely story about a little lamb with a disability. If it weren't for his disability, Joshua the Lamb would never have been witness to the Christ Child's birth. This story shows that such as the shepherds, God chose some of the least (of the animals) to be the first to welcome His son, proving that in God's eyes, we are all loved and valued no matter what makes us different or "lesser" from others.

12. Humphrey's First Christmas
This is our first year with this book. I got it off of Amazon.com after reading the synopsis. After the first read, I was a bit disappointed. But then, I read it again and realized that this book talks about something that our other books don't: selfishness. I think selfishness is one of those themes that pops up a lot in parenting. Teaching your children to be selfless is an ongoing adventure. And at Christmastime (aka gift time), I think parents need to be especially on top of this. So I am now happier with this purchase than I was in the beginning. Humphrey is a camel who spends a lot of the book complaining and thinking of himself and his own needs. And then he discovers the baby Jesus and becomes enlightened. It is a good book to use as a discussion tool about selflessness and selfishness.

13. The Little Shepherd's Christmas
The other purchase this year, I chose this book for our youngest because the main character is the youngest brother. The little shepherd wants very much to keep up with his brothers. They aren't always kind to him. But in the end, the little brother is one of the shepherds to experience the heavenly host of angels bringing the message of the birth of the Christ child. He is also one of the first to see the baby Jesus. And finally, the older brothers show the little brother love and respect.

14. If you are looking to read about the Christian faith all year round, we really love the Beginner's Bible. It has kid-sized stories and cartoon-like illustrations. Both kiddos like it and our little one requests it by bringing it to us and asking to, "Read God?".

All photos and links are via Amazon.com.

I'd love to hear what your favorite Christmas books are! Please leave a comment or post on the blog's Facebook page.

Merry Advent!

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