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on having a joy-filled Christmas.
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One of the ways we can be present and enjoy the season is by reading books and listening to lovely music together. Compared to DOING things, these are generally restful, focused, family activities. And best of all, mess and stress free!
I favor Christmas carols over more modern music, which grates on my nerves rather quickly. To me, there is nothing lovelier then choir or traditional singing of old Christmas Hymns. It just seems to breath life and peace into our days. Here are some lovely versions on YouTube:
Oh, Come all ye Faithful
Oh, Come Oh, Come Emmanuel
Oh Holy Night
Do You Hear what I Hear
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
What Child is This (Greensleeves)
Handel’s Messiah (Full Version)
Handel’s Messiah (Christmas portion)
For Unto Us
BooksA Christmas Carol
The classic holiday book. A Christmas Carol is short, fun, and just a tiny bit spooky. Acceptable for older elementary aged children, and great as a family read-aloud. Don’t fall for any gimmicky adaptations, the original is the one you want. Younger children probably won’t be frightened by the story, but the language might be a bit above them, even as a read-aloud. Dickens himself wrote a shorter adaptation for children, I haven’t read it but it might be worth a look. This book is in the public domain, and is available free in the following places.
Free Online and E-Book
Free Audio Book
Becky’s Christmas, Tasha Tudor
Like many Tudor books, this is pricy. It is out of print. But it was one of my favorite books as a child and I read it every year, even as a teenager. It was lost for many years after my marriage and I searched for an affordable copy because I desperately wanted to share it with my own little ones. Last year, I discovered my own original copy, on my mother’s book shelves!
Becky’s Christmas is an old-fashioned Christmas story. It is full of obscure and lost traditions, accompanied by Tudor’s famous illustrations. All the members of the family are engaged in making Christmas gifts for each other, including a big surprise in the barn for Becky. On Christmas Eve, the best gift of all is waiting for Becky . If you want to spend a bit extra on a book that is completely worth it, or just keep your eye out at garage sales, this is a treasure to watch for.
One Wintry Night
A picture book for the whole family, One Wintry Night is the story of a boy stranded in the neighbor’s house during a blizzard. She starts telling him a story, and the real adventure begins. Beginning with creation, the book moves through the Bible, paving the way for Christmas. Beautiful illustrations.
The favored illustrator has several Christmas books. I recommend the classics, The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Night Before Christmas. We always enjoy searching the margins she decorates on each page. I enjoy finding classics every child should know, and Brett’s illustrations are some of the best.
Video Reading of The Night Before Christmas
Apple Tree Christmas, Trinka Noble
A charming Christmas story about a pioneer family living in a barn. During an ice storm their beloved apple tree is killed. When Christmas arrives, Katrina is given a very special gift from the ruins of the tree. The inspiration for this story comes from the author's father, who built her very first drawing board.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
This poem is perfect for a child’s picture book. The classic is given beautiful pencil illustrations in this version I recommend by Susan Jeffers. You can also read it free at the following links.
The Birth of Jesus
This is a video created for children from the Visual Bible series. The movie is in the ‘story within the story’ style. The children’s uncle (Kirk Cameron) visits to read the Christmas story and the story comes to life. With words taken directly from the Bible, this is a movie of the nativity that doesn’t add to the story. Beautiful filming of the Christmas story, although some of the acting in the family scenes is not quite as high-quality. Because I am hesitant to offer my children Bible stories in movie form because they so often change the story, I am happy to see this available on DVD.