Advent and Christmas Stories

The First Noel

Author(s): 
Maite Roche
Translator(s): 
Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP

There is nothing like a nice new book for children about... Christmas! This new Pauline Books & Media volume is a translation of an original French book. I had my 8 year old read it aloud to me, and she loved the illustrations that bring together the human and the supernatural very well. She loved the sweet, cute angels and all of the animals at the familiar stable!

Christmas Turtles

Author(s): 
Sara Ann Denson

This is a simple, charming and true story, from the author's own childhood, of a grandmother and her four grandchildren, for whom she makes Christmas Turtles each year with the pecans from her own yard.

The children discover the real "magic" that goes into making these favorite treats and how very much their grandmother really loves them. A recipe for the turtles is included in the back!

The Trees Kneel At Christmas

Author(s): 
Maud Hart Lovelace
Illustrator(s): 
Marie-Claude Monchaux

Maud Hart Lovelace is famous for her Betsy-Tacy series of chapter books. The Trees Kneel At Christmas is a delightful story of two Lebanese-American children in 1951 Brooklyn. Their grandmother tells them how the trees kneel on Christmas in their homeland of Lebanon, but in their new home of Brooklyn the people do not have enough faith for the trees to kneel.

"The Shop of Ghosts"

Book cover: '"The Shop of Ghosts"'
Author(s): 
G.K. Chesterton

Found on pages 82-86 of G.K. Chesterton Collected Works Volume XIV, 1993, Ignatius Press, 802 pages, softcover, Catholic perspective

This is a charming and humorous story about the spirit of Christmas through the ages. Good for a chuckle and a little perspective.

The volume in which this story can be found is available from Ignatius Press
You can also read this story online by clicking here

The Story of the Other Wise Man

Book cover: 'The Story of the Other Wise Man'
Author(s): 
Henry Van Dyke

This is the intriguing and classic story of Artaban, the "other" wise man who searches for Jesus his whole life while "foolishly" spending his treasures - which had been intended as a gift for the newborn king - on the poor and needy. A beautiful and touching story, it is quite short, but the vocabulary is challenging enough to be appropriate for upper grade school or high school.

The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty

Book cover: 'The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty'
Author(s): 
Patricia Rasmussen

Snowflakes tell a different sort of Christmas story - the "story" of God's fingerprints in the snowy landscape of winter. (I don't know how anyone can look at the stars or at a snowflake without being drawn in some way to the Creator). It's appropriate all through the winter, but especially relevant at Christmas.

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 Miracle of St. Nicholas

Book cover: 'The Miracle of St. Nicholas'
Author(s): 
Gloria Whelan

It was the day before Christmas in a modern-day Russian village which has lived through the closing of their church, St. Nicholas. When the church was first closed, everything inside the church mysteriously disappeared and the priest was gone. Now, even though the soldiers were gone, there seemed to be no way to celebrate Mass on Christmas day. Young Alexi questions his babushka about this, but all seems hopeless. Still, she explains that "A miracle happens when God enters into your dream. But first you must have the dream."...

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Book cover: 'The Legend of the Poinsettia'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Illustrator(s): 
Tomie de Paola

This lovely retelling of an old Mexican legend transports us to the mountains of Mexico, where a young girl, Lucida, prepares for Christmas with her family. Her mother is a fine weaver, and the Padre asks her to make a new blanket for the Baby Jesus. When her mother falls ill, she longs to help finish the blanket, but only seems to make a mess of things. With no gift for the Baby Jesus, Lucida hides and watches the procession from afar.

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