Elementary

The Prince of Egypt

Book cover: 'The Prince of Egypt'

Three Other Reasons to See Prince of Egypt: racially truthful, stealthily pro-life, realistic portrayal of sin
I admit, our family went to see The Prince of Egypt because of William Donahoe's recommendation. The Catholic League plugged the newly-released animated picture on the story of Moses in its newsletter as well as in an Internet message. So we joined my family at Christmas in a rare trip to the theater, along with my dad (who was going to see it because Chuck Colson had recommended it).

On That First Christmas Eve

Book cover: 'On That First Christmas Eve'
Author(s): 
Carol and Robert Dowgiallo
Illustrator(s): 
Dorothy Perez

This is one of those delightful children's books that I wish was hard-covered instead of paperback! This book is a simple idea: a 40-some page poem that details the first Christmas Eve. Sounds pretty traditional and common, yes? The unique thing about this book, though, is that the authors link that first Christmas Eve to Jesus' baptism and death on the Cross and then come back full circle to the first night, but now with children of the world surrounding the manger. It's a beautifully done explanation for WHY Christ was born.

The Miracle on 34th Street

Author(s): 
Valentine Davies
Illustrator(s): 
Tomie de Paola

When I was little, there was one Advent tradition that really stands out in my mind: the annual viewing of the movie, Miracle on 34th Street. It usually aired on the last weekday before Christmas Eve - we'd be home on Christmas Break, wrapping presents or decorating the house, and this classic would be playing in the background. I'm talking about THE classic 1947 movie - Natalie Wood as the little girl, Maureen O'Hara and John Payne as the "love interest", Gene Lockhart as the judge with a heart, and the ultimate St. Nick: Edmund Gwenn.

The Jesse Tree

Book cover: 'The Jesse Tree'
Author(s): 
Geraldine McCaughrean
Illustrator(s): 
Bee Willey

Take a grumpy old man working in a Church, add an inquisitive little boy, assorted other characters and mix in the greatest story ever told and you have the book, The Jesse Tree, written by British author, Geraldine McCaughrean. This is sure to be an Advent classic!

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Book cover: 'The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey'
Author(s): 
Susan Wojciechowski

This is a lovely story about a gruff woodcarver who is commissioned to make a Nativity Set for a young boy and his mother. The story is beautifully written and lovingly illustrated. This is such a favorite for my children that we keep it out year-round and it has been read over and over and over again. This is simply a can't-miss book - at least check it out from your library. When you buy a copy, I certainly recommend the hardcover for durability.

Stations of the Cross for Children Poster Set

Book cover: 'Stations of the Cross for Children Poster Set'
Author(s): 
Julianne Will

This is a very nice, very inexpensive (about $10), large-size set of the Stations of the Cross (created especially for children) appropriate for homes and classrooms. The drawings are simple (they remind me a little of Tomie dePaola's drawings) and what my husband would describe as "sanitized". Our first inclination was to think these were too sanitized, but when we compared them to our more "traditional" set (which cost us $30 and are about half the size), we realized that the other set, too was without blood.

The Children's Book of Virtues

Book cover: 'The Children's Book of Virtues'
Author(s): 
William Bennett

This lavishly illustrated story-book was inspired by (and includes stories from) the best-selling story collection The Book of Virtues. This has been a favorite book in our family since my oldest was just two. The stories include: The Little Hero of Holland, the Tortoise and the Hare, The King and His Hawk (a cautionary tale about anger involving Genghis Kahn - my daughter liked this story so much that she had it almost memorized at the age of 2 1/2), St. George and the Dragon, St.

The Children's Book of Heroes

Book cover: 'The Children's Book of Heroes'
Author(s): 
William Bennett

I like this volume even better than The Children's Book of Virtues. (We checked it out from the library three different times before I finally bought it!) Heroes includes stories of Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, David and Goliath, Father Flanagan and Jackie Robinson. The book is filled with illustrations and stories are generally three to five pages, with a few poems included as well. The biographies are our family's favorites, but there are many other stories including myths and fairy tales which teach some of the same values.

The Children's Book of Faith

Book cover: 'The Children's Book of Faith'
Author(s): 
William Bennett

This newest edition presents some colorfully illustrated tales of a more religious nature. Passages from the Bible include "the Story of Daniel and the Lion's Den", "the Healing of a Paralytic", "the Call of Samuel", "the Little Lost Lamb", the 23rd Psalm, and "Miriam and the Floating Basket." Other stories involve St. Christopher. St. Martin of Tours and St. Augustine's famous "Walk by the Sea" where a little boy (believed to be Jesus or an Angel) had a conversation with him about the mysteries of God.

The Children's Book of America

Book cover: 'The Children's Book of America'
Author(s): 
William Bennett

Another great collection compiled by William Bennett which includes beautifully illustrated tales and poems such as: Father Junipero Serra, the story of the First Thanksgiving, Paul Bunyan, the Story of the Star Spangled Banner, an Indian legend, and patriotic songs and poems. This is one of the books that my children ask for over and over - probably because of the wonderful illustrations, interesting content and great variety of stories. I especially like the story included about Father Junipero Serra which very nicely portrays the faith and fortitude of this humble priest.

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