Mortimer's Christmas Manger
Karma Wilson, author
Jane Chapman, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry, 2005
We've lauded the Wilson/Chapman duo before, but Mortimer's Christmas Manger is a real treat for the preschoolers in your home. A sweet (but not saccharine) story of young Mortimer who tries to find a place for himself in the nativity scene displayed near the Christmas tree. He discovers the real "reason for the season" in the process! Highly recommended. Worth owning!
The Third Gift
Linda Sue Park, author
Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator
An unusual break from mainstream Christmas picture book fare, this follows a young boy in a family who produces myrhh...and the rich men who want to buy some of this myrhh to take with them on a journey following a star. Illustrations look very in keeping with the time period and country! A nice extension of the story of the wise men.
B is for Bethlehem
Isabel Wilner, author
Elisa Kleven, illustrator
Dutton, 2004 (originally 1990)
I've mentioned this charming ABC book before, but I must mention it again. I love the bright collage-style art, the topics covered in the alphabet, and the final pages. Worth checking out from your library if you can get it--or even buying a copy to bring out year after year.
Joyce Dunbar, author
Gary Blythe, illustrator
I love this beautiful cumulative, poetic approach to the Nativity and the extraordinary, photo-like oil paintings that accompany the text. Another one to look for in a library--or find secondhand.
Fontanini Nativity Sets: high quality resin that can be handled by children without breaking--but these look SO much like precious figurines. My mom has collected a set for me slowly; you can often find the figures in department stores at this time of year.
Fisher-Price "Little People" Nativity Set: one of the better children's sets out there, this one plays "Away in a Manger." A definite toddler favorite
Good News of Great Joy free ebook of Advent readings from John Piper!
Names of Jesus Advent Chain: make a paper chain with the names of Jesus on each link for a different Advent activity this year!
Printable Advent Verses (Luke 2)
Simple Scripture Advent Calendar (cards printed and placed in mini envelopes--could use above linked printables for this!)
Sparking Spiritual Imagination: a guest poster at Redeemed Reader gives some great tips at working Christ-centered books into your Advent season
Five Christ-Centered Picture Books for Christmas: Same author as above link; I love that she includes The Three Trees
One Week of Kid-Friendly Christmas Crafts: I'm totally going to do these with my three!! Very fun ideas to spend time with your kids during this often hectic season. You might consider doing these activities with a cup of hot chai/chocolate/tea during a long winter afternoon!
50 Things to Do At Christmas And if you can sit down and make time to plan even a few of these traditions, maybe add a few more each year, it's a great way to make memories and traditions.