A good story prepares the soil of a child’s heart for the seed of the gospel. When choosing books to read to my daughters or share with you, I think about that a lot: is this a good story? Will it nourish children and plant in them a longing to see the King return and the world remade? Or does it give them a cramped perspective that this life—with its illness, injury, and evil—is the best that we can hope for? That there is no magic after all?
What I don’t often think about, though, is which stories fed me as a child. I read voraciously but I did not read deeply, so many of the classics featured here are new discoveries for me. All of the Christian literature is new, and because I only dimly recall reading Goosebumps and The Babysitters’ Club, it rarely occurs to me to wonder which stories the Lord used to soften my heart toward him.
But a few years ago, my mom gave me a well-loved copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever—my own copy, revisited annually throughout my childhood. I read it again for a dose of nostalgia and discovered instead the gospel, embedded in a story I’d loved because it was funny and, in its own way, irreverent.
Because the story is so delightful and unexpected, I don’t want to tell you much about it. Perhaps I’ll tell you that it approaches the question of who does and doesn’t belong in the church with humor and grace, and that it will almost certainly make you laugh and, later, cry. And I’ll tell you that I plan to read it to my daughters this year, in the hope that this story will soften the soil of their hearts so that, when the gospel’s seed is sown, its shoot will flourish.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Barbara Robinson (1972)