Tag: saint nicholas (page 1 of 1)

Beautiful Books for Advent

I like to get an early start on reviewing Christmas books around here, because I figure that at least some of you are, like me, whatever we call the opposite of a procrastinator. We were the ones who read through most of the course material weeks before our college professor presented it in class (but only in courses that we were excited about). If we have anything resembling a deadline in our near future, it’s a safe bet that we started working on the item due weeks, if not months, beforehand. And we start thinking about Christmas some time in late summer.

So it’s nice to know which books we’d like to add to the family library well before the need for them arises. Here, for you opposite-of-procrastinators, is a list of our family’s favorite books for Advent (and yes, this post was written three weeks before publication):

Beautiful Books for Advent | Little Book, Big Story

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born, by Rhonda Growler Greene

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born | Little Book, Big Story

A gorgeous rhymed poem paired with rich yet cozy illustrations tell the story of Christ’s birth with beauty and grace. Also, there are kittens. A great book for toddlers and preschoolers. (Read the full review.)

The Advent Jesse Treeby Dean Lambert Smith

If you’d like to try celebrating Advent with a Jesse Tree this year, I highly recommend this little book. It’s filled with daily family devotions that will take you from Genesis to Revelation during the month of December, and it will help you lay a great biblical foundation for your kids as they prepare for Christmas. (Read the full review.)

The Friendly Beasts, by Tomie dePaola

The Friendly Beasts | Little Book, Big Story

Tomie dePaola’s charming rendition of an old Christmas carol will appeal to readers big and little (but especially little). (Read the full review.)

Song of the Stars, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Song of the Stars | Little Book, Big Story

Lloyd-Jones, author of the much-beloved, Jesus Storybook Bible, tells a beautiful story of the whole world preparing for the coming birth of Christ. She branches out from the usual fare of camels and barnyard animals and includes wild horses, whales and bears in the litany of wildlife preparing to worship the Lord—but she doesn’t stop there. This book is great for toddlers, preschoolers, and early school-aged kids. (Read the full review.)

Saint Nicholas, by Julie Stiegemeyer

Saint Nicholas | Little Book, Big Story

Whether you’d like to add a biographical note to family’s celebration of Santa or prefer not to celebrate Santa at all but want to share a bit of history with your kids, this book is a great resource for you. (Read the full review.)

Who is Coming to Our House?, by Joseph Slate

Who is Coming to Our House? | Little Book, Big Story

The animals in the manger prepare for special guests in a story that is simple and sweet and, for some reason, moves me to tears every time we read it. This one is perfectly suited to the smallest of readers.

An Early American Christmas, by Tomie dePaola

An Early American Christmas | Little Book, Big Story

Tomie dePaola tells the story of an immigrant family who brings their Christmas celebration with them to America. He tells us this Little House-style, and includes details about how they prepared each piece of their celebration—candles, sweets, ornaments, and more—that proved positively enchanting to our pioneer-loving daughters. Those details don’t overwhelm the point of the story, though, and the book closes on a gorgeous note. (Read the full review.)

One Wintry Night, by Ruth Bell Graham

As a new believer, I was seventeen, wore combat boots to church, and approached the Bible as I would any other book: I opened it, flipped past the table of contents, and started to read. I treated the Bible as a single story, at times confusing and downright unlikable, because I didn't know any better. . . (from Little Book, Big Story)

Ruth Bell Graham tells the Christmas story by placing it in its context: this is a full-size, beautifully illustrated book, but it’s told in chapters, so she can start the story at the very beginning and see it through to the Resurrection. This is a great book to read as a family during Advent. (Read the full review.)

Saint Nicholas

As new parents, we didn’t know where we stood with Santa. We didn’t want to be the killjoys who declared Santa dead, but neither did we latch on to the idea of celebrating him in our home—the stockings were simply there, full of gifts from us, and the focal point of our family celebrations is and always will be the infant in the feeding trough. Making an effort to include Santa felt forced.

So we stood on an uncertain middle ground, and we weren’t really sure what to do about it until an astute four-year-old asked a surprising question after reading a book about Santa.

Is this story fiction or nonfiction?

Saint Nicholas | Little Book, Big Story

Well, I said. That’s an interesting question. And so we talked about how some stories begin as nonfiction but take on fictional elements over time. There was a Saint Nicholas, I told her. But he was really different from the guy in this story.

“Why?” she asked.

That’s where this book came in. Saint Nicholas introduces little readers to the original Nicholas, a man whose generosity sparked a legend and flowed from a consuming love of Christ.

This book focuses around a particular act that brought him notoriety and blossomed into a tradition involving stockings and gifts, and closes with an interesting appendix that details how one story led to the other. The nice thing about that layout is that, for those of you who do celebrate Santa Claus but long to bring a little church history to your celebration, you can still read this book to your kids without giving away The Great Secret.

Saint Nicholas | Little Book, Big Story


My conversation with Lydia didn’t end there, by the way. I went ahead and let her in on The Great Secret, and told her who really fills the stockings. If I worried about destroying “the magic of Christmas” for her, the worry was needless: she was totally smitten with the idea of her mom and dad sneaking around in our jammies, putting stuff in her stocking at night. For the rest of the week she played “Christmas” by making us lie down and pretend to sleep while she took down our stockings and stealthily filled them with odds and ends from all over the house. She scolded us if she caught us peeking.

When I gave her the official job of filling the kitties’ stockings, she simply lit up. Getting to share in the joy of giving and preparing surprises for others somehow deepened her enthusiasm, and this year, she spent an entire afternoon making gifts for our whole family (kitties and unborn sister included). Of course, she “hid” them in plain sight—on the kitchen counter, on the floor behind a wing back chair—so her technique needs a little work.

But she’s got years to practice before she steps into the role of Official Stocking Stuffer. She’ll be a pro by then.

Saint Nicholas
Julie Stiegemeyer, Chris Ellison (2007)