10 Books to Read to Your Children This Christmas

cdgrunewald / Lightstock
cdgrunewald / Lightstock

For every child filled with eager anticipation about Christmas, I suspect there’s a mother wondering how she’ll manage all the extras that accompany the month of December. As a mom with three kids, I’ve discovered a way of entering into the season that doesn’t involve a trip to the grocery store, an afternoon of marathon baking, or craft projects that require sequins, fabric, or hot glue (I’m a little tired just typing that). You can even do it lying down or in your favorite chair.

It’s reading.

Years ago, our family started accumulating a small collection of the many Christmas books written for children. Each year, a child would receive one new book as a Christmas gift, and throughout December we would read our way through the growing collection. These books—which do a masterful job of showing instead of merely telling the gospel truths of Advent and Christmas—have delighted me as much as they have my children. As we near the end of Advent and approach the 12 days of Christmas, here are 10 favorites for you to read and enjoy:

The Story of Holly and Ivy

by Rumer Godden (illustrated by Barbara Cooney)

A six-year-old orphan girl goes looking for a home, a doll in a toyshop wishes to be loved, and a childless couple longs for a family. Godden’s book is a captivating story about the ache of emptiness, the desire to belong, and the triumph of good over darkness and futility. I’ve read it to my daughters year after year, and it’s so enchanting that I’ve discovered them pulling it off the shelf to read even during summer months.

Song of the Stars

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The author of the bestselling Jesus Storybook Bible, Lloyd-Jones has a knack for making words sing in a way that stirs delight in both kids and adults. In this picture book, she imagines the eager longing of animals, trees, stars, wind, flowers, skies and seas—even individual blades of grass—as each one anticipates the birth of Christ and how it will change the world. The story helps children grasp the wonder of the Incarnation and the truth that (to echo Kuyper) every square inch of creation was made by Christ and belongs to him.

The Christmas Day Kitten

by James Herriot (illustrated by Ruth Brown)

You don’t have to be an animal lover to fall in love with James Herriot’s delightful stories, many of which are based on his experiences as a country veterinarian in northern England in the mid-1900s. This is his tale of a stray cat who, before she dies, secures a better life for her newborn kitten by bringing him to the home of Mrs. Pickering, “the only place of comfort and warmth she had ever known.” It’s a touching book about grief, restoration, and the beauty of community.

The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry (illustrated by P. J. Lynch)

Although it was written more than 100 years ago, this story still delivers a powerful, timeless tale of a husband and wife who relinquish their most cherished possessions in order to bless each other. The outcome might seem disappointing—the two gifts cancel each other out—but the couple’s love for one another is profound. The story reflects so many glimmers of the gospel through its theme of costly, wholehearted love.

A Certain Small Shepherd

by Rebecca Caudill

Although this book was first published in 1965, I only recently discovered its gentle, touching story. Caudill tells the tale of a young Appalachian boy, born mute, and how his path intersects with a young couple and their newborn baby who’ve taken refuge from a blizzard in the boy’s nearby church. The wondrous conclusion leaves no doubt that “the Lord does live this day, and all days. And he is loving and merciful and good.”

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Corrie Cutrer