On Sunday during our fellowship time at church, a friend, a busy working mom with three kids, asked if I was planning a Christmas post similar to my Easter one, 10 Ways to Teach Kids About Easter.
The Easter post shares ten different ways parents can share the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection with their children using hands-on activities and books and she had enjoyed using the ideas to make the story come more alive for her kids.
Today I’m sharing similar resources for the Advent season and Christmas.
Be sure to read all the way to the end for a giveaway of an awesome prize pack of children’s Christmas books!
Celebrating Advent With Your Children
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Advent, it is simply taking the time before Christmas to anticipate Christ and celebrate Christmas, His coming to the earth. Generally Advent celebrations begin on December 1st and continue through Christmas Day.
Here are a few ways to celebrate Advent, the anticipation of Christ’s coming, with your children:
1. Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands by Amanda White
For preschool to elementary kids, this printable gives you 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities, plus fun printables and templates! If you’re not super crafty (like me), you can download the printable ornaments for your kids to color and hang instead and read the scripture reference each day.
Be sure to read to the end of this post to find out how to win your own copy of this great curriculum or click this link and use the code SAGEGARDEN to get 20% off.
2. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
This absolutely gorgeous hardback book is designed to be read year after year for the Advent season. The quality of the book is such that I can imagine it becoming a book that is passed down to future generations.The illustrations remind me of The Jesus Storybook Bible illustrations and are just beautiful!
I received a copy from the publisher Tyndale for review (you can earn free books too) and am absolutely thrilled to be using this book for Advent this year for our kids (ages 5 and 2).
With the new baby on the way in just 8 short weeks, I needed something engaging but simple enough for me to handle while also nesting and preparing for all the holiday festivities. This fits the bill perfectly.
The book starts out where all books should start out, at the beginning! From creation to the flood to the story of Abraham, each day works through the Old Testament stories and progresses toward the ultimate revelation of Jesus as King.
Each day has a “Thoughts to Discuss” section and a “Family Activity” idea.
Neither of these sections are overwhelming and provide just enough “extra” to go deeper with older children. I also love the free printable ornaments you can download from Ann Voskamp’s site that go along with each day.
*Special bonus: Thanks to the publisher Tyndale for offering Embracing the Mosaic Life readers a download of the first chapter for free!
3. What God Wants for Christmas: An Interactive Nativity for Children by Barbara Rainey
I’ve admired Dennis and Barbara Rainey from Family Life Today ever since I found out I was pregnant and knew I’d need some help with raising a child. The parenting process hasn’t come naturally to me and their practical advice has helped me along the way.
While I haven’t used this resource myself, it comes highly recommended online by other moms who have used it with their children to create meaningful conversations about Christ’s coming during the Advent season. The set includes nativity characters, a pop-up nativity scene, written materials, and an audio book on CD.
For more detailed info, you can listen to a conversation with Barbara and one of her children talking about how they use this resource on the Family Life Today radio show.
4. Read a Different Children’s Christmas Book Each Day in December
This was my friend Kathy’s idea and I think it’s a great one. Most kids love to sit and listen to a story being read aloud, so doing so during the days leading up to Christmas creates great time and space for creating happy family memories. Add hot cocoa and popcorn to story time and you can get almost any kid to sit and listen for a few minutes!
I’d encourage you to look for Christmas books in your local used bookstore, ask friends for recommendations, or review the list below for some ideas. If you have a bit more time and want to create some mystery and excitement for your children, wrap each book ahead of time and allow your child to pick out the book and unwrap one each day to read.
You might not already have 25 Christmas books focusing on Jesus, but if you start now and add to your collection throughout the years, you’ll soon have plenty of books to choose from during the month of December.
A Review of Children’s Christmas Books
I’m excited to share these three books with you, as they’re some of the first in my own collection of children’s Christmas books that tell the story of Jesus.
Two of these are also included in the huge Children’s Christmas Book Prize Pack Giveaway at the end of this post, so you’ll have a chance to win your own copy too! Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and Ambassador International for providing review copies and giveaways for my readers.
The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell
This hardback book has absolutely beautiful illustrations and tells the story of Jesus’ birth by focusing on how God kept His promise to send His people a new King. Perfect for preschool and early school-aged children, it is short enough to keep their attention and focuses on one theme, that Jesus is “a new King; a rescuing King; a forever King!”
Both of my kids (5 and 2) listened intently, fascinated by the slightly different approach to the story of the birth of Jesus. I love books that connect the Old Testament promises to the New Testament fulfillment of those promises and this is a great introduction to that theme for young children.
A Donkey’s Little Tale by R. Mitchell Scott
Oh, I just love this sweet book! Written from the perspective of the donkey as Mary rode to Bethlehem, the book is a poem of sets of two line rhymes sharing what the donkey must have experienced that particularly special late night.
There is a tenderness conveyed between Mary and Joseph that is precious. The different perspective of the donkey along with the rhyming words keeps the kids’ attention. The illustrations are simple, inspired by the author’s own clay figures, and are quite charming.
The Manger Mouse by Sarah Martin Byrd
This book tells the story of Jesus’ birth from the perspective of a little mouse named Matty. Young and insecure about his significance in the world, with his mother’s encouragement he becomes an integral part of Jesus’ first night as a newborn on earth.
The illustrations are done with beautiful pastels and are big and bold, good for little ones listening along with the story but not able to read yet.
In addition to the basic story of Jesus’ birth, there are so many lessons that can be drawn from this short story about the importance of our gifts, no matter how “small”, how God uses the unlikely to accomplish the important, and having courage in the face of uncertainty.
More Reader & Blogging Friend Favorites:
I asked around for more children’s Christmas book recommendations that tell the story of Christ and I’m thrilled to share even more great books from readers and other blogging friends online. These look amazing and I can’t wait to add some of them to our own collection!
Why Do We Call It Christmas? The REAL Story Behind the Holiday by Phil Vischer
Song of the Stars – Amanda W.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree – Linda B.
The Gift of the Magi – Anne H.
The Three Gifts of Christmas – Amanda W.
The Little Match Girl – Anne H.
The King’s Christmas List – Amanda W.
The Steadfast Tin Soldier – Anne H.
Room for a Little One – Sarah E.
The Donkey’s Gift – Angela L.
A Charlie Brown Christmas – Deidra L.
The Pine Tree Parable – Amanda W.
The Littlest Angel – Heather K.
A Christmas Prayer – Amanda W.
The Wonder of Christmas – Amanda W.
Children’s Christmas Books Prize Pack GIVEAWAY!
Some of my blogging friends and I have gathered together to offer a huge prize pack of children’s Christmas books. Enter the giveaway for a chance to win all 8 books plus the Advent resource, Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands.
If you win, you’ll be well on your way to building an awesome library of Christmas books for your kids to enjoy year after year.
We are all so excited to share these books with you!
Ashley is giving away: The Berenstain Bears – The Joy of Giving
One lucky person will win them all!
To have a chance to win, enter using the rafflecopter widget below. (Click here to enter if you can’t see the widget.) Giveaway is open to U.S. residents and ends Monday, November 17th.