Celebrating the greatest Gift: Parent & Child Christmas Reads from Zondervan

Every year during the Christmas season we like to add new books to our collection of titles that celebrate the birth of Christ. We have old favorites but are constantly finding new ones that quickly become dear to us. I thought that this year we would share a few of our favorites.

For Children

Follow the events of Jesus’ birth as you read this lovely picture book written by Max Lucado with Randy Frazee and Karen Hill and illustrated by Fausto. The Christmas Story for Children tells readers about the birth of a special baby whose story is filled with love for us all. Young readers as well as their parents will appreciate the beautiful words and artwork that convey the message that we are loved and cherished.

What I like about this story is that it doesn't stop at the manger. The story goes on to describe Jesus' childhood and how from the outside Jesus' appeared to be just like any other Jewish male. Then the appearance of his cousin John and the baptism of Jesus lead into the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry.

The illustrations by Fausto Bianchi have that soft watercolor effect and are just beautiful. The collaboration between Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill make this a great retelling. This is a companion book to the award-winning and bestselling The Story for Children.

The Legend of St. Nicholas captivates audiences and tells the story of a young man named Nicholas, who was moved by the plight of the poor and needy. Nicholas spent his life secretly helping the poor all over the world, giving gifts on Christmas Eve to remind people of the greatest Gift of all, Jesus Christ. This gentle Christmas book introduces the original St. Nicholas and offers inspiration for readers to become cheerful givers themselves. The final pages in the book include fun Father Christmas traditions in other lands.                                               
Our family has always chosen to do Santa along with our other Christmas traditions. Once our kids were old enough to understand the story of the original St. Nicholas we shared it with them. This book is a great way to approach the subject and allow the discussion of Christmas being a season of giving rather than focusing on getting. It was written for children ages 4-8 but can be enjoyed by the entire family.

On the first Christmas ever, there wasn't a Christmas tree or stockings by the fire. There was only a stable, some animals and shepherds, and a manger filled with hay. But on that special night when Jesus was born, the world changed forever.                                          

I absolutely love illustrated books by Dennis Jones. His artwork just makes me smile. The exaggerated expressions are sure to captivate your little ones. 

One of the features that I especially appreciate about this book is that when the wise men come to meet Jesus, he is depicted as a toddler rather than a baby still in the manger. I like it when children's books choose to be accurate. Makes my job as a momma so much easier!

It's time for the Yuletide Ice Cube Fair! Veggies gather to eat snow cones, slurp slushies, and ice skate--but the best part of all is the Ice Cube Carving Contest! Join Veggie friends as they discover that it's not what's biggest or best that matters most on Christmas. It's Jesus!

Who doesn't love Veggie Tales?!! Our house is all about the vegetable (the singing ones that is). Karen Poth did a splendid job of using the characters to depict not only what the secular world thinks is important to the Christmas season, but she also nails it with Junior's very small carved nativity.

The last line in the story is perfect, "Christmas isn't all about the big, the bright, the new. Christmas time means Jesus--and the love he brought for you." This is not only a fun rhyming book to read, but one that brings home the true meaning of Christmas.

For Adults

Who was in the manger that first Christmas morning? Some say he would become a great moral leader. Others, a social critic. Still others view Jesus as a profound philosopher, a rabbi, a feminist, a prophet, and more. Many are convinced he was the divine Son of God.

Who was he--really? An how can you know for sure?

Consulting experts on the Bible, archaeology, and messianic prophecy, Lee Strobel searches out the true identity of the child in the manger. Join him as he asks the tough, pointed questions you'd expect from an award-winning legal journalist. If Jesus really was God in the flesh, then there ought to be credible evidence, including:

Eyewitness Evidence--Can the biographies of Jesus be trusted?
Scientific Evidence--What does archaeology reveal?
Profile Evidence--Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of God?
Fingerprint Evidence--Did Jesus uniquely match the identity of the Messiah?

The Case for Christmas invites you to consider why Christmas matters in the first place. Somewhere beyond the traditions of the holiday lies the truth. It may be more compelling than you've realized. Weigh the facts and decide for yourself.

I am a complete news junkie so I instantly fell in love with this book when it was first released. It has been on my yearly Christmas reading list ever since. I like the presentation and the logical thinking approach. It is a very short book and can easily be read in an evening.

Eighteen years after a tragic workplace accident, "crooked lady" Ema McKinley, who doctors believed would never again rise from her wheelchair, experienced an extraordinary healing when Jesus appeared in her room on Christmas Eve. This miraculous encounter is more than an inspiring, compelling story that will capture your attention. It is an unforgettable rush of truth that will open your heart to find lasting joy and peace, no matter what you're going through. You will see your life from a whole new hope-filled perspective.

While this is not your traditional Christmas book, I couldn't help including it. Ema's Christmas Eve miracle is so fitting this time of year. The same Jesus that was a miraculous birth, chose to bring about another Christmas time miracle in the life of Ema McKinley. I found Ema's story to be humbling yet inspiring as I held it up against my own life. During this season of miracles, I think you will really enjoy reading about how the God of Heaven once again touched the life of an ordinary woman.

Sometimes God uses the smallest voices to teach the greatest truths.Every day, one of Amy Julia Becker's children says something that prompts her to think about life in a new way. "Mom, does Santa love me?" William asks, after his mother explains the meaning of Christmas . . . In a chat with her dad about the children who died in the Sandy Hook shootings, Penny asks, "Did they go to heaven?" . . . "You was a jer, Mommy?" asks Marilee one morning in the car.

These conversations deepen Amy Julia's relationships with her children, but they also refine her understanding of what she believes and what God is doing in her own life.

In Small Talk, Amy Julia draws from the wisdom and curiosity of those young voices to reflect on beauty and kindness, tragedy and disability, prayer and miracles. As she moves through the basic questions her kids posed when they were very young to the more intellectual questions of later childhood, she invites us to learn from our own day-to-day conversations with the children in our lives.

This eloquent parenting memoir is about the big questions little hearts ask, the thoughts their words provoke, and the laughter and soul-searching their honesty brings--to adult and child alike.

Again, this isn't a traditional Christmas book, but it is about children and they are definitely gifts from God. A child that doesn't ask questions is rare, if not obsolete. As a momma their continuous questions can drive you absolutely crazy in the moment. The temptation to answer with a "because I said so" type of response is often irresistible. But when all is finally quiet those same questions come back to you and allow you to formulate your response and refine what you believe. Isn't it just like God to take something irritating like sand to an oyster and turn it into a priceless pearl. I recommend this one to all the mommas out there. It will fill you with a fresh perspective and allow you to carry on!

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