Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Picture Books: Jesus & the Nativity (Early Childhood)

Because I found some additional picture books on Jesus's birth, I went ahead and separated books geared more for early childhood (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers)from those for older children and adults.   To view the previous post (which has been revised) on Jesus & the Nativity, click here

Mary’s Baby (ages 0-3) by Jane Chapman  
Using simple text and pictures, the excitement of Jesus’ birth is canveyed.   As Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem and find a place to stay, they frequently exclaim, “The baby is coming!”   The angels and wise men all proclaim as they see the star, “The baby is coming.”  People—shepherds, innkeeper’s wife, angels, wise men, and towns people—excitedly travel and see the baby Jesus. 

Christmas in the Manger (ages 0-3) by Nola Buck  
This wonderful board book introduces infants and small children to the birth of Christ.  It begins with a shining star to light the stable for man and beast.  The animals and people present at His birth are described in straightforward, rhyming verses along with simple illustrations.  For instance, the donkey is introduced as the creature that carried Mary to Bethlehem.  On the opposite page is an adorable donkey eating hay.  Other pages highlight a ram, an ox, the shepherds, the wise men, and Mary.  Each person and creature is there to protect, nurture, and worship the newborn king—Jesus. 

The Christmas Pageant (ages 2-5) by Tomie dePaola 
Dressed as Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, and the three wise men, a group of children narrate and dramatize the birth of Christ.   There are a few theatrical clues—a narrator, wires on the angel, and wheels on the animals—but overall, readers are so engaged in the pageant’s retelling that they forget it is merely a recreation.  The closing page declares that the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birth and God’s great love; the reason for the season is to demonstrate that same love to others.   DePaolo’s signature endearing illustrations with appealing characters and hues will be cherished by young readers and parents.

The Nativity Play (ages 2-5) by Nick Butterworth & Mick Inkpen  
Similar to dePaolo'sThe Christmas Pageant, a group of young children perform the story of Jesus’ birth for their friends and families.  Parents help the children make their costumes as they dress up as angels, shepherds, animals, wise men, Mary, and Joseph.  Miss. Harvey, their teacher, is seen giving them a pep talk and playing the piano.  The children have a few humorous outtakes, like the boy waving at his dad in the audience and the camel having difficult time walking (with three kids in the costume).  The story conveys the truth of the nativity narrative while illustrating the humor and charm of young children performing. 

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