Books to Share with Your Children at Christmastime

Reading to your children is beneficial in so many ways. During the frenetic weeks before the holidays, turning off the smartphone and reading to your kids is a great way to slow down and focus on the joy of the season and build memories with your family.

I still remember my mother reading The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. Our copy was a beat-up hand-me-down from another family, which at one time had been a beautifully designed pop-up book. I bought a newer, simpler version for our children.

Night before Christmas

I also bought them a bunch of Christmas-themed Little Golden Books. (Do they even make them anymore?) My favorite was one that existed when I was a child, Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, adapted from Robert L. May’s story by Barbara Shook Hazen, beautifully illustrated by Richard Scarry.

Rudolph

If you’re Christian, a book about the nativity is a must. There are literally hundreds of them out there; pick one with beautiful illustrations. Or if you can’t find one specifically about Christ’s birth, I suggest Donna Clark Goodrich’s My Rhyme-Time Bible for Little Ones.

Rhyme Time Bible

Another classic you must read to your kids: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Did you know that Dickens also wrote The Life of Our Lord for his own children? It was published posthumously in 1934 and makes an excellent gift.

If you like to laugh out loud, I recommend The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Any child who’s ever been in a Christmas pageant will identify, and the Herdman kids are a hoot and a half. It also gives parents a chance to talk about how to treat people with challenging behaviors.

best Christmas Pageant

Need some more suggestions? I listed my eight favorite Christmas books here. (There’s some overlap, but five I didn’t mention in this article.)

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Scripture Break #10

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Scripture Break #9

Scripture verse; Proverbs 3:5

Proverbs 3:5

 

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Review of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp hasn’t always trusted God. When she was four, her younger sister was hit by a truck and died. For a long time, her family struggled with the concept of a good God.

A few years ago, a friend challenged Voskamp to make a list of one thousand gifts she was thankful for. As she added to her list and thanked God for each item (morning shadows across the old floors, cry of blue jay from high in the spruce, wind flying cold wild in hair), Voskamp noticed an interesting effect—she felt connected to God, and overwhelmed with joy.

one thousand gifts

She discovered the Greek word used in the Bible that’s translated “he gave thanks” is eucharisteo, containing the roots for words meaning “grace” and “joy.” While making thanksgiving a daily, hourly, even moment-by-moment practice in her life, she found herself more aware of grace being extended to her, and of a lightness of spirit she’d never experienced before.

Voskamp’s writing style is unique—poetic and exuberant, with run-on sentences which delight rather than annoy. Some examples of her voice: “The Wounded Warrior [Christ] is achingly tender with the broken ones and He has all the patient time to gently lead those who seek and He keeps leading me back to eucharisteo.” And

Hadn’t I personally experienced it before too, that vantage point that gave a sense of smallness before grandeur? At the lip of the Grand Canyon, peering into the carved earth, the vastness of the hewn and many-hued chasm. A late June night peering into the expanse of heavens nailed up with the named and known stars. A moon field. I hardly dare brush the limitlessness with my vaporous humanity.

In One Thousand Gifts, Voskamp shares personal stories about her family. Some are horrifying; some are beautiful. But mostly, the book tells how, when she learned to thank God for everything, she saw proof that God is good and that she is greatly loved by Him (as we all are).

Another phenomenon Voskamp addresses in her book is that after mindfully cultivating the habit of noticing God’s gifts and thanking him for it, she began seeing miracles all around her. She emphasizes the order: first, thanksgiving; then come the miracles.

I know what she says is true because I have experienced it myself. Not that every moment of the believer’s life is easy, but when you are in communion with God, you know where to turn in the midst of trouble. And the more I thank God for everything– His blessings and the trials of life–the more joyful I feel, even while going through difficult times.

Senior woman gardening

 

Because we are so close to the season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share some entires from my own gratitude journal, which I started a year and a half ago in response to reading Voskamp’s book:

  • veterinarians
  • the beautiful plants in my yard
  • warm, sunny weather
  • freedom from pain (after a hip replacement)
  • a husband I love
  • people (like pastors) who live their lives in service to others
  • laughter (especially laughing with friends)
  • the people who harness wind and turn it into power
  • wind chimes
  • wilderness within the city (South Mountain Park)
  • crisp, cool weather
  • ice in the fountain
  • frost on the roof and “diamonds” in the grass
  • the dog I really didn’t want
  • the rain and all the nourishment it brings
  • that wool can be made into yarn
  • that yarn can be made into sweaters and blankets
  • a sunny day after rain
  • the joy of playing handbells
  • a husband who cooks and goes grocery shopping
  • being invited out with friends
  • unseasonably mild weather
  • a pet whose antics make me laugh
  • the people who read my blog
  • water
  • peace in the face of uncertainty (while waiting for biopsy results)
  • the idea to close an incision with staples
  • my brother
  • air conditioning
  • that we survived four days without air conditioning
  • small accomplishments and the blessing of satisfaction
  • old friends
  • spaces set aside for beauty, like gardens, parks, museums, wildlife preserves
  • the neighbors I meet on my morning walks
  • music
  • dancing
  • our choir director
  • people who do simple repairs for free

Do you want to live a more joyful life? Try thanking God for everything, every day–not just Thanksgiving Day. Thank Him for the big things, for the little things, for the unpleasant things. Acknowledge that everything He provides is for your benefit. Test constant thankfulness and see if it doesn’t fill you with joy and new awareness of your blessings.

 

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The Psalm Project #53

This is the last Psalm that I wrote for The Psalm Project–over a year’s worth. I really enjoyed this project, so much so that I may someday revisit Psalms and write another 50 or so. Thank you for taking this journey along with me.

Bible Open to Psalms

For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:4).

Dear Father,
It touches my heart
That You look at me with delight
Just as I delight in my children.
To be so loved by you that deity would become flesh
And experience torture and execution
To repay all my faults
Humbles me and makes me eternally grateful.
May I always reflect Your love and mercy.
May I never forget what my salvation cost.
Amen.

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Scripture Break #8

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The Psalm Project #52

Bible Open to Psalms
He determines the numbers of the stars
and calls them each by name (Psalm 147:4).

Dear God, the cosmos You created is so vast we cannot comprehend it.
We invent powerful telescopes and cameras and send them into space
and they reveal that creation is far larger than we can even imagine.
You made billions of stars;
we’ve run out of names for them
and have resorted to series of numbers and letters.
But you know the unique properties of every sun,
and You have given them names that perfectly identify them.
The more I learn about You, Lord,
the more amazed I am.
Dear all-powerful all-knowing Creator,
I am in awe of the Intellect that could produce such a perfect world.

To read more about The Psalm Project, click here.

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