5 Picture Books For Christmas

In the Cultivating a Christ-Centered Christmas series I mentioned that we as a family have an Advent Book tradition where we daily unwrap books that relate particularly to the Christmas story. On Wednesday I will be guest posting at Redeemed Reader on the particular ways you can easily incorporate this tradition in your own family’s celebration.

Today, I would like to share five of our favorite Christmas picture books with you. Obviously we bring out and enjoy many other books during the Christmas season. Some are more silly than others (Veggie Tales comes to mind) and some are beautifully illustrated accounts of legends that drive home the Christmas message (the Legend of the Christmas Cookie for example), but our favorites are the ones that poetically and joyously celebrate the Savior himself. By filling our home with such books during this special season, we hope to drive home the focus our family strives to have on Christ during the holidays. Here are five such books which I would recommend adding to your own Christmas collection (some of them may surprise you!):

1.) Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This relatively new picture book, which focuses on the excitement preceding the incarnation of Christ was published in 2011 and is a true blessing to families everywhere. In true Sally Lloyd-Jones fashion, the story easily captures the imagination and thoughts of young children while the beautiful pictures of various animals from all different environments keep little minds engaged.

The purpose of this particular book is to breed excitement for the coming of the Light of the World. As the animals of earth repeat over and over again phrases like “It’s time! It’s time!,” “Get ready! Get ready! Be glad! Be glad!” you and your children will get caught up in the wonder of the coming incarnation until you peer down along with the animals at “God’s great gift.”

You can find Song of the Stars here.

2.) Christmas Night Fair and Bright

by Julie Stiegemeyer

This poetic telling of Jesus’ birth is perfect for the littlest of listeners as the rhythmic lines flow easily from page to page and end each time with the proclamation: “He’s Jesus, born for us.” What I find particularly helpful in this book is the emphasis given at the end of the book for what we are truly celebrating at Christmas time.

The second to last page reads:

“Born our Savior, born to cry, born to suffer, born to die. All our sins on Him will lie, on Jesus born for us.”

The last page pictures a church gathering for a candlelight service and reads:

“At Christmas gathered in this place, though we don’t see our Savior’s face, we hear God’s precious words of grace of Jesus, born for us. Christmas moon glows fair and bright shining now with Christmas light. We celebrate His birth tonight: our Jesus, born for us.” 

You can find Christmas Night Fair and Bright here for a very cheap price!

3.) The Lightlings

by R. C. Sproul

“Once upon a time, there was a great King, who was the King of Light. He made the light, and His light was so perfect and so pure that He was called ‘The King without a Shadow’ This great King of Light made a group of people, and He made them so that they could shine brightly, just as He did. He called them His little lightlings…” 

So begins the beautiful allegorical tale of the Gospel written by the much respected Dr. R. C. Sproul. The story of the lightlings and their King walks through their fall into darkness (the entrance of sin into the world) and introduces the gift of the Savior in a tiny child called the “Son of the King of Light” who will restore the light once given to these little pixy characters by their Creator. “The King has given us a child. He has given us His own Son to be the Light of the World,” the little pixies proclaim as they gaze upon the baby.

This unlikely Christmas story is told, as most of Sproul’s children’s books are, from the voice of a loving grandfather to his grandson and displays how even the most ordinary of problems a child faces (in this case the fear of the dark) can point to profound truths found in the Word of God.

Particularly noteworthy are the illustrations in this picture book which are simply gorgeous and can be appreciated by both children and adults alike.

You can find The Lightlings here.

4.) The Tale of Three Trees

by Angela Elwell Hunt

This book is well known legend about three trees who hoped to do “great” things when they grew up. One wants to be a made into a beautiful treasure chest, another wants to be a mighty ship, and the last wants to grow taller than all the other trees so that he will point people to God. Each of them is disappointed to see what they actually become as the first is used for wood to make a manger (which holds the Christ-child), the second a little boat (which carries the Lord as he calms the raging seas), and the third is cut down to be used as a cross (where the Savior hangs to pay the penalty for our sins).

The story simultaneously tells the story of the Jesus’ birth, power, death, and resurrection while teaching children that God uses the humble for his own glorious purposes.

You may be wondering why I would include this book in a list of Christmas books. While it does include a picture of the nativity and focuses briefly on the birth of Christ, the story is much broader than just the incarnation. The reason I included it is because it not only provides a context for the birth of Christ (within his life, death and resurrection), but also shows the simpleness of his birth–the unworthiness of something so gross (a manger) to hold the King of the Universe. It is a great talking point for little children.

You can find The Tale of Three Trees here.

5.) The Light of the World

by Katherine Paterson

This beautifully illustrated picture book follows the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and focuses primarily on him bringing light into the world. For this reason it is a great pairing with R.C. Sproul’s The Lightlings. This book is helpful during the Christmas season to provide a framework for who this little baby is we are celebrating. There would be no reason to celebrate this little child’s birth if he hadn’t been the Son of God and hadn’t come to die for our sins. Also beneficial in this book are the illustrations which venture away from the typical Caucasian Jesus and present darker skinned, more realistic versions of these well-known historical characters.

You can find The Light of the World here.

What are some of your favorite Christmas books? What would make your top 5? I would love to hear about them as we are always on the lookout for great books!

  • http://www.hiveresources.com Melissa Deming

    oh, thank you! Three of those we don’t have and I haven’t read them yet! I might by the RC Sproul one today!

  • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

    Last month I did a giveaway for the Lightlings. It’s a great book for this time of year. We also like the Three Trees. Thanks for sharing this list!

  • http://www.whenyourise.com Desiré

    Great list! Thanks for sharing it, a couple were new to me. :)

  • http://www.gret-reads-247.blogspot.com Gretchen

    Song of the Stars is near the top for me too! I also really like books that use either the words straight from Scripture, or illustrate the words of a Christmas Carol. This year new for Susie I got her “Silent Night”. We also have a small board book called “Carol Time”. she has really liked these! Our collection is pretty young, because my oldest is 3, but there are some decent board books so even the smallest can help unwrap and enjoy them! I honestly have a harder time building my collection of Easter books, how about you?

    • Jessalyn Hutto

      True. Easter is a definitely harder, though I haven’t made as much of an effort, so I guess I haven’t noticed as much. I would love for you to share some of your favorite Easter books. Have you posted them at your blog?

  • http://www.gret-reads-247.blogspot.com Gretchen

    Hmmm. I don’t know if posted them or not! Silly me! I have been a BAD blogger of late! I was just thinking today that I might write about the new books I have this year for my kids for Advent since they are not ultra common and I haven’t seen them listed anywhere else yet. I know I have a list of Easter/Lent books somewhere because I compiled a list for Clifton a couple years ago.

  • http://dermerfamily.blogspot.com Hollie

    Hey Jessalyn I was reading some reviews on Amazon for the “Light of the World” book and a couple people said that the book takes liberty with Scripture having Jesus say of the bread and wine, “this is like my body/blood” and also that it downplays or totally negates his deity in the book also. Have you noticed any of this issues? I wanted to check with you because we are considering purchasing it :)

    • Jessalyn Hutto

      Hey Hollie! This book does not directly quote Scripture. I like this one because of the theme of the “Light of the World” and the fact that it takes you through the entire life, death, and resurrection of Jesus with beautiful pictures. I wouldn’t recommend this book if it were going to be a child’s ONLY interaction with the story of Jesus. If that is the case, certainly a good Children’s Bible or nativity book that directly quotes Scripture would be better. But since we have a lot of Christmas books to pull from and of course are able to fill in any inadequacies this book may have, we have found it helpful and enjoyable.

      Most of it is the author’s own retelling of the story. She does explain Jesus as saying that the bread and wine is “like” his body/blood” as the reviewers noted. I think this is mostly because it is written for children and the author is trying to explain what Jesus meant. Obviously even when we explain this Scripture to children we don’t lead them to believe that the bread and wine were actually transformed into Jesus’ body and blood, but instead that he was using them as symbols and preparing this new church ordinance for them to remember his sacrifice. The book does go on to say that the bread is like his body “which I am giving for you” and then the wine is “like my blood, which will be poured out for many people.” (I find this last interesting as she could have said “all people”… but I digress)

      As far as downplaying Jesus’ divinity, I can see where someone would critique it in that way. It continually refers to Jesus as the “Light of the World” which is definitely the theme of the book. At one point the people are remarking at his miracles they say “Surely, this man could not do the things he does unless God was with him.” The “with him” part is probably a place where we would like them to say “unless he was God.” Though, it is reminiscent of scripture where they say “from God.” Also on the next page Jesus is quoted as saying he is the “Son of God.” I wouldn’t say that this book is particularly strong in the area of emphasizing Jesus’ divinity, but I also don’t feel that it negates his divinity either. I don’t know very much about the author and am not familiar with her theological positions. We were given the book when Elliot was born as a gift and I was pleasantly surprised by its contents. There are definitely other, more literal and perfectly Biblical recountings of the nativity story (most of them in King James version (which I know will not bother you)). You may want to look into those ones before purchasing this one, if the things I mentioned worry you. I would like to add a couple of them to our collection as well, but haven’t been able to do so yet. Also, you may consider checking it out from the Library first before purchasing to makes sure it is one that you want to own. :) I hope that is helpful.

  • http://dermerfamily.blogspot.com Hollie

    Thank you so much for that thorough review Jessalyn! That helps me a lot :) And I feel much better about buying it. The reviews about the bread & wine on Amazon were from Catholics, but my concern was they made it sound like she was actually changing the words of Scripture. I’m glad to hear that’s not the case!

    Unfortunately, our library does not carry books like there :( They instead carry picture books about how Mr. & Mrs. God created the universe. Yikes!

    • Jessalyn Hutto

      Love you!

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