Friday, December 21, 2018

December Holiday Books #7 & #8

Below I'm featuring 2 very different picture books that celebrate the birth of Christ. The first looks like a secular book on the cover, but it's focus is quite sacred. The 2nd is a visual feast for those wanting to expose their faith family to classical art and new ways of viewing the nativity. Have a blessed and safe Christmas as we celebrate God with us.
Picture Book: My Merry Christmas
Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrator: Sara Gianassi
Summary: "What is Christmas?" is the question that begins this book. Sure there are stars and gifts and much more, but "...what is Christmas really for?" Readers are asked to consider what are their favorite Christmas symbols and whether their meanings directly relate to Jesus. The lights of Christmas remind us of a desire for the Lord to light our paths. Angels remind us of joyous celebrations of Jesus' entrance into the world. Evergreens remind us of eternal life. Stars remind us of the wise men who knew to humbly search, worship, and give. And the gifts under our tree are reminders that love is God's greatest gift. The book ends with a thank you for Christmas and John 3:16.
Hanna’s Comments: The illustrations and cover of this book may seem juvenile, but it has great potential for conversations about whether or not we take the time to look beyond the trappings of the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons to their meanings and messages. This author also has written a wonderful Bible for Christian children called The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. That subtitle tells you how it’s different from a typical Bible. I especially love this Bible's illustrations. Check it out as a potential gift to children in your family or faith family.
Original Publisher & Date: B & H Kids, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Scriptures about the birth of Jesus, (Matthew 1:18-2:1-12 & Luke 1:26-38, 2: 1-15)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group in your faith family during Advent to help them explore what the symbols of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany really mean to Christians. 

Picture Book: The Nativity
Author: Geraldine Elschner
Illustrator: Giotto
Summary: In this gorgeous picture book, simple text is paired with glowing masterpieces from a Renaissance painter. It highlights Giotto's interpretation of the major events in the Christmas story from the angel Gabriel telling Mary she has been chosen to bear the son of God to the threesome's flight to Egypt.
Hanna’s Comments: Many children have little exposure to classical art. Those living in poverty sometimes have a deficit of beauty in their lives. One of the benefits of PBT is exposure to good art in the illustrations that are experienced with the stories. This art can open us to new possibilities of meaning, delight, and wonder - all important aspects of spirituality and faith. In this book, you have vibrant gold foil artwork on the halos of key players who, in varying degrees, seem human and otherworldly. I think the faces in these images are particularly powerful too. Be sure to ask your audience how they personally react to such images and if these figures of the nativity give new meaning to their own interpretation of Jesus' birth and life. 
Original Publisher & Date: Minedition, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Scriptures about the birth of Jesus, (Matthew 1:18-2:1-12 & Luke 1:26-38, 2: 1-15
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of elementary children and expand their imaginings about the Nativity and the events of Jesus' birth and life.