As the years have gone by, our family has collected several Christmas picture books that we have made it a tradition to read the days leading up to Christmas. A novel or two has managed to sneak into the pile, as well as a few others, and this year, I'm adding yet more books to the stack.
Trying to make them great readers hasn't been easy all the time, but gradually, they've all come to love books.
The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado
The Tale of Three Trees, Angela Elwell Hunt and Tim Jonke
Here's one story that's just as appropriate for Easter as it is for Christmas, because it focuses not just on the birth of Christ, but on His entire life and mission. The three trees each get to be a present and part of his life at significant locations and moments: the manger, the boat, the cross.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson
I loved, loved, loved reading this classic to my kids again when they were finally old enough to sit still and listen. We read a chapter or two a night to get through it so they wouldn't squirm. I laughed. I cried. I hope they understood it. If they didn't last time, they'll get another chance this year.
The Forgotten Carols, by Michael McClean
The year my husband and I got engaged, we spent a night reading this book and listening to each carol and we came to it. As our kids came along, we kept the tradition going, but eventually it would take a good week to get it, since little people have a hard time sitting that long. While it was a great experience, we finally broke down one year and decided to get the DVD to watch for Family Home Evening. The kids loved it. I still recommend the book and CD way of doing it, but for families, the DVD is a great shortcut. Michael McClean performs the main role of John himself, and his two sons are also major parts of the show.
Santa Maybe, by Aubrey Mace
In the middle of the night, she's woken up by a thump coming from her living room, where she finds a man lying under her tree with pajamas, some money . . . and no memory.
All Is Bright
This brand new collection of true Christmas stories was recently published by Covenant in time for the 2009 Christmas season. It features stories by Anita Stansfield, Annette Lyon (that's me!), H. B. Moore, Gregg Luke, Kristen McKendry, Lynn Jaynes, Matthew Buckley, and Julie Wright. Many of the stories are downright heart-warming. It's only $4.95 at Deseret Book.
Stolen Christmas: Stories of the Season