Hoping not to stress out this holiday season? Looking for ways your children can experience Christmas wonder that doesn’t depend on presents under the tree?
This week I’m reviewing three new books to use during Advent to help moms and kids find that often elusive Christmas peace we all want.
Here’s my review of the third book: ’Twas the Season of Advent: Devotions and Stories for the Christmas Season, by Glenys Nellist.
Who wouldn’t want to sit cozily with children throughout the Advent season to unwrap the story of God’s best gift? Sometimes the simplest ideas prove to be the very best: Tell young children the biblical Christmas story slowly in short daily vignettes? Genius!
Add exquisite illustrations and the author’s storytelling gift, and the result is quite amazing.
With a nod to Clement Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, each day’s story begins with a verse to introduce that day’s character or events:
What the angel told Mary—how could it be true?
That she’d be a momma? Elizabeth too?
She would go to her cousin, she’d leave straight away,
And see what Elizabeth might have to say.
After each story is a simple prayer:
Thank you, God, that you were at work in Elizabeth and Zechariah’s lives.
Thank you, too, for being at work in our lives, even when we don’t know it.
The book introduces Advent as a time of waiting but also a time of adventure, and then the focus turns to a manger in Bethlehem and the unknown-to-us carpenter who built it. Next we watch as God creates the world and fills it with light and love.
Day by day, we meet the prophet Isaiah, Mary and the angel Gabriel, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Joseph, the Bethlehem innkeeper, and finally baby Jesus—God with us. Then there are shepherds and angels and finally, the magi. (Although the illustrations indicate the stable, the text accurately has the magi arriving at a house in Bethlehem instead.)
On a few days the story pauses for reflection and wondering about what will happen next.
Readers will encounter some literary license in the stories. I would have liked to see mention of this somewhere in the book. Those who know the Scripture will recognize it but others may not.
Still, this book captures well the wonder, mystery, and joy of Christmas, and I’m sure children—and their grownups too—will find themselves caught up in it all.
A free, full-color, downloadable activity pak to use with the book is available here.
’Twas the Season of Advent: Devotions and Stories for the Christmas Season
written by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Elena Selivanova
published by Zonderkidz (2021)
hardcover picture book, 48 pages
Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,