I love books, and seeing as Advent is one of the two most important times in the Christian calendar – it should be no surprise that I collect, for the boys, advent books. Each advent both boys get a new advent book. (Christmas they will get a new Bible or a new verse book, or something like that, but for Advent they get a special “Christmas Story” book).
Many I have fallen in love with, some I just like; but I thought this year, as I unpacked the tub of books (since they go up into the attic with the decorations after the Season) I thought maybe a blog post about the one we have so far would be a nice addition to the Advent Season this year. Remember my boys are still young (4 and 6 this Advent) so our collection is geared at the pre-readers; a lot of board books and rhyme. I MEANT for this to be posted right after the start of Advent, as soon as we got the books out. That did not happen, but here is our Advent collection:
- One baby Jesus. A New Twelve Days of Christmas. I admit I don’t love this one, but, to be fair, I must admit I am not a fan of the original carol either (though I understand the main argument for the historical bases and respect that, and find it genius, I just don’t really enjoy it – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Days_of_Christmas_(song) ).
- Christmas in the Barn. Margaret Brown is one of my all time favorite children’s authors, so it is no surprise I do love this book.
- This is the Stable. I love this one also, I also appreciate the art in this book. The people, especially Mary, Josephs and the baby Lord are not white, neither blond nor round eye. That is nice. Good art, dark subdued colors and the people look realistic – Middle Eastern.
- Who is coming to our house? I LOVE this book. It is worn at the edges, and I can recite it mostly by memory!! We’ve had it since 2006 and I still love it more than most. It is simply, the animals prepare, and face doubts, for the arrival of Mary and Joseph. it is soothing, and easy and charming.
- Pine Tree Parable.
- The Christmas Story (Little Golden Book). I do not think our family has read all of this at any one point in time, it is still a bit beyond my boys.
- Christmas in the manager. Ours is NOT pat and feel; but I love the chatting style of the book and count it as a favorite of mine. Short and simple and easy for the little ones to keep up with and stay caught up with. “do it again, do it again”. A repeated book that will soak simple meaning into their little hearts. One of my tops picks.The Christmas Donkey. By wilma Swedburg. 1961!! This was one of mine!! I can’t find it on amazon. It is too long and too complex for the boys at this point, I do not think we’ve even read it once yet, but it is part of their collection.
- Room for a Little One. A warmly illustrated book about the animals in the stable; there is always room for one more and all are accepted peacefully (the dog and cat and mouse all cuddle together).
- The Stable where Jesus was born. Another one where the people look ‘right’ very Middle Eastern, the art is amazing in this one too. The story, the texts, is not as strong as some and the art work not nearly as GREAT as a few others, but it is not a blue-eyes blond Holy Family and that is something. I do like in the crowd scenes the girls and women are all wearing veils and head covers wrapped around them, that look Middle Eastern rather than the ones that look like a European statue of Mary (more thrown back rather than wrapped around). I do love all the animals in the art, like the little mice hiding.
This year I added two new books, trying to take a different approach than simply the stable / manger and the night of the Birth:
- Humphrey’s First Christmas. Rather funny, Humphery desires a blanket, and him fitting himself in his Master’s tent to show he is cold is very funny. The story / text in this one is weak. This is one ve added to the collection this year. The moral is good (he desires the blanket, strives hard to get it, then is awed by the baby Christ and give the baby the blanket without a second thought. But the text doesn’t do as much as it could given the story it is telling.
- Small Camel Follows the Star. I am in love with this addition to our collection. In love. The camel is a baby and gets to go on his first caravan—he carries first one, then 3 gifts. He struggles; his mother assures him their master is good and knows correctly. He, of course, carries the gifts to the Christ child for the 3 wise men. However I love that the Christ child is NOT a baby as the wise men arrive, but a toddler sitting up on Mary’s lap and interacting with the baby camel and the wise men. The art work is realistic, if not the most impressive art. The Holy Family is dark skinned and the Christ child has dark curly hair; Mary’s cover looks Middle Eastern. This one I strongly suggest for a different take on the “night of the Lord’s Birth” represented in almost all Advent books.
So that is our Advent collection to date. The boys have many books for the season that are not Advent, like Curious George Christmas, but these are the meaningful ones. I am already on the look out for next advent. (I also need to search out some Epiphany books for them too, that is another post).