Monday, December 12, 2016

December Holiday Books 7, 8, & 9

Today I offer 3 picture books that are origin stories, 1 for Hanukkah and 2 for Christmas. If you are Christian, still consider using the Hanukkah story for it is not only a part of December culture but our religious heritage as well.

Picture Book: It’s a Miracle! A Hanukkah Storybook
Author: Stephanie Spinner
Illustrator: Jill McElmurry 
Summary: Here the rituals and elements of Hanukkah are the background for a series of 8 stories told to Owen, the OCL (official lighter of the menorah candles). Owen hears these stories each night of Hanukah from his Grandma. Most are stories of family members with a few obvious exceptions such as the story of an alien who is helped by seeing a menorah in a window. Grandma highlights miracles and connections to the Jewish holiday and Owen’s heritage.
Hanna’s Comments: What a wonderful relationship Owen has with his Grandma! What a fabulous storyteller she is! In the back of this book, you’ll find The Hanukkah Legend, a list of The Hanukkah Blessings, and a short glossary. The text of this book is quite long so I suggest you read it in portions, depending on the age of your audience. It is a great introduction for non-Jewish children who know little of Hanukkah as well as a fun book for Jewish rabbis, teachers, or parents to read to their children. After reading, talk about some particular stories and traditions of your family of origin or family of faith.
Original Publisher& Date: Anne Swartz, 2003
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: The story of Hanukkah is based on stories in 1st and 2nd Maccabees in the Hebrew Bible and in some Christian Bibles.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children wanting to learn more about Hanukkah and their own religious heritage.

Note this book has 2 very different covers depending on publication date.
Picture Book: The Nativity
Illustrator: Julie Vivas 
Summary: The story of Jesus’ birth is illustrated here with very human but unusual illustrations. Beginning with the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, the illustrations encompass the journey, birth, and response from the community. It ends with the departure of the shepherds and wise men.
Hanna’s Comments: This is the book I usually choose when I want to read about Jesus’ birth to children and adults. Audiences respond so positively to the juxtaposition of the old King James text with the delightful and surprising illustrations.
Original Publisher & Date: Gulliver, 1986
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: The text in this book is from the King James version of Matthew and Luke.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are celebrating the birth of the Christ child.

Note that this cover is different from what you may find.
Picture Book: The First Christmas
Illustrations: Paintings at The National Gallery, London 
Summary: This stunning book offers scripture texts of Jesus’ birth with corresponding paintings from masters of the Renaissance. For instance, the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary in the Book of Luke are paired with this [beautiful painting] by Lippi from The National Gallery of London.
Hanna’s Comments: There are many picture books that celebrate Jesus’ birth. Here I’ve chose two that are very different. This book is most appropriate for school age children or older and has an additional art history component. An index in the back offers information about each of the paintings.
Original Publisher & Date: Simon & Schuster, 1992
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present, but it is likely that most of these paintings can be viewed on-line [here] at the museum’s website.
Scripture Connections: The text in this book is from the King James version of Isaiah, Matthew, and Luke.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book in a homeschool or private school setting as a combined religious and art lesson.