Can I just say I am SUPER proud of myself for having stuck with my Lean In reviews for FIVE CHAPTERS so far! I played teacher with myself and self-assigned this writing project and it has been hard and good. Buuuuuut….Christmas Break is just about here so I might just take a hiatus with that until 2015 unless some serious inspiration kicks in while decorating Ginger Bread houses or something.
Just like I have ALL THE THOUGHTS about women and work, I also seem to be overly opinionated about The Holidays. This particular post is the Children’s Book version of that.
First off, can I just say that one of the best parts of my parenting gig is the books.
Sitting on our beat up maroon sofa with a little girl on my left and a little boy on my right, reading a delightful story with beautiful illustrations can’t be beat. I am loving some of our Christmas library picks so far this year and I thought I would share them here.
Full disclosure #1: we don’t ‘do Santa’ with our kids. They have learned about Saint Nicholas, and have fun with the character of Santa Claus since he is EVERYWHERE, but that is about it, and so I purposefully avoid checking out books that are all about Santa and reindeer and stuff.
Alright, so here we go…
Please read this book. Not only can I not get through reading this book without the waterworks coming on, I can’t even explain the plot to my husband without tearing up. (Full DIsclosure #2 – if a book makes me cry it earns extra points). I won’t give the synopsis here because I don’t have a box of tissues nearby so just trust me, go check this one out.
Full Disclosure # 3: I have never really liked this song.
However, this book takes the lyrics to the song and accompanies them with vivid pictures of a little boy tagging along with the Magi to visit Jesus in the manger. It is fun to read with my kids because I will sing the main line, and then they sing the “pa rum pum pum pum” bit.
But why this one is making the cut is pretty much because of the illustration that goes with the line “I played my best for him”, which is also the illustration on the front cover shown above. As this poor boy plays his heart out for Jesus, the angel wings drawn in the background capture perfectly that mystery and miracle of our simple songs being transformed into a beautiful and holy offering received by King Jesus, just as he would receive worship from the Heavenly Hosts. Absolutely amazing.
During a season where I constantly tell my children that these really fun things like Santa and Elves don’t actually exist, to be able to boldly proclaim that YES! angels are real, feels good to me.
This book is longer, but Evangeline is at an age where she will sit through a lot of narrative if it is holding her attention. While this precious little protagonist misses out on being a part of her church’s Christmas pageant due to a fever, an angel appears and brings her back to the birth of Jesus, where she gets to proclaim the Good News to the Shepherds with The Fear Not Angel who is guiding her.
It’s beautiful and sad and full of hope.
Man, my kids can fight over toys. This sweet story shows a lesson I REALLY REALLY REALLY want my kids to learn – how relationships and community, especially sibling relationships, are more valuable than toys and getting their own way. Plus, we don’t spend very much in the way of Christmas presents and keep things pretty minimal so a book that shows other families not rolling in cash or having mountains of toys under the tree is important to me.
Full disclosure #4: This book isn’t for the kids. It is for me.
The refrain “Tomorrow you will be King, but tonight you are my baby” is repeated throughout this poetic and gorgeously illustrated book. Lines like “This star will bring the others and I will start to share. But tonight you are mine – to give my tender care” make me love Jesus and Mary even more. It is a perfect read during the this season to contemplate the Virgin Mary and her thoughts, actions and role in the Christmas Story. It is also a perfect read for any mother as they realize, or realized, the moments of holding their newborn are precious and few. Waaahhhhhh!
As a mom it is easy to make Christmas all about our children and miss out on God speaking to our hearts. I look over to our stack of ‘grown up’ books and see my advent reading and prayer book, knowing full well how little I will get through this season. So I am thankful for the simplicity of children’s books such as these and others that pierce my heart and allow me to worship and connect and be moved.