I cannot speak for everyone out there, but one of my favorite things to do this time of the year is sit somewhere cozy, preferably near a crackling fire, with a warm cup of cocoa in a festive mug. The only thing that can make that scene any better is either reading or listening to a story that has the ability to warm my insides as much as the fire warms my toes.
This article will tell of five stories that I have found do just that. The best part about it is that these are stories that can be shared with children of any age. If presented in such a manner, they can be used to begin heartfelt conversations and interactions between you and your family.
The Original Christmas Story
Let’s start where it all began, shall we? The story of the birth of Christ can be found in the books of Matthew and Luke. To be exact: Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-38, and Luke 2:1-20. This is really nice to read while you are setting up the figurines in your Nativity set. You can have your children place the figurines while you read the story. Afterward, they can create birthday cards for the Baby Jesus and place them around the Nativity.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson)
If you don’t remember reading this book as a kid, I feel so sorry for you. This book is a delight, and a fun read. You’re children will love it! In summary, the story is about a group of children who are to put on a Christmas pageant at their church. When a rag-tag family of children, the Herdmans, are invited to perform in the pageant, everyone else thinks the play will be ruined. However, just when things look their bleakest, lessons on both sides are learned about the true meaning of Christmas.
This is a good book, because it will hold the attention of a wide age range. Not to mention, it has its fair share of hilarity. Read a chapter a night with your kids, and take some time after to discuss what is going on in the story. Ask questions about the characters’ behaviors toward each other and the circumstances they find themselves in. Ask, too, how they would handle those situations and types of people. Very insightful, and it can lead to a whole new topic of discussion on how to treat people who are not like us.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Susan Wojciechowski)
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is a beautifully illustrated story of how empty spaces can be filled when unfortunate circumstance is replaced with love and kindness. Jonathan Toomey is a woodcarver who seems rather gruff and frigid. He keeps to himself and “seldom smiles”, but no one knows just why. The miracle happens when a young widow and her son come to Mr. Toomey so he can carve replacements for lost pieces from a special Nativity set.
Again, this is a story of how looking past someone’s rough exterior and into the break of their heart can turn pain to love. See if your children know anyone like Mr. Toomey, and ask them what they can do to show kindness and love especially when it does not seem to be reciprocated.
A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
This is a classic for obvious reasons. Most of us already know the legended tale of the stingy Ebenezer Scrooge who thinks more about what he uses to line his pockets than what he uses to line his heart. Through paranormal experiences and harsh reality, Mr. Scrooge learns a lesson about what things in life hold the most value.
I prefer the original story, but since this story was first published in Britain in 1843, the dialogue and style of writing may be harder for younger children to comprehend. However, there are numerous adaptations out there that are written in a way that would be easier for even the youngest member of your family to understand. It is the lesson behind the story that is important. When you are finished reading this story, take time to talk to your children about that lesson. Ask them how they can practice not being a scrooge this Christmas. What can they do to help the less fortunate? Most importantly, stick through to their suggestions. If they want to donate food to a food bank, do it.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
Besides the original story about Christmas, this has to be my all-time favorite. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a perfect story for this time of year. The four Pevensie children wander through a magical wardrobe that leads them to a place called Narnia where it is always winter, but never Christmas. Narnia is a place under the rule of an evil witch who will try anything to stop the young Pevensie children from fulfilling ancient prophecy and teaming up with the magnificent Aslan.
There is so much symbolism in this story that is conducive to that of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us. See if you children can discover who Aslan represents. Then, toward the end of the story ask if they can make any parallelisms between Christ and Aslan.
There are numerous books out there that tell the true meaning of Christmas. These are just a few suggestions. Whatever you choose, make it more than a story; make it about moments that will bring your family closer together and closer to the true meaning of Christmas. Merry Christmas and happy reading.