Long before I had children, I started collecting books for them. And Christmas books are my favorite. But not just any Christmas books. They need to teach something, and I prefer to read Christmas books that show my children the importance of giving.
Granted, we have some silly, fun, whatever Christmas books. And my boys love them as well. But the best and most well-read favorites are the ones that share a deeper meaning. Here are my top 8 that are absolute keepers.
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Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas, by Ben Sowards. Times are tough and young Paul and his family have already sacrificed much. But now he’s asked to share what little he has, a beloved calf, to help strangers. Will he do it? Your kids will want to know.
Silent Night, Holy Night, as narrated by Walter Cronkite, former anchorman for CBS Evening News. This beautifully-illustrated book includes a CD narration of Mr. Cronkite, as he recounts the remarkable story of WWI soldiers, stationed at Flanders Field silenced their weapons for two days in a “Christmas Truce.” This historical miracle is one I especially love to share every year.
Christmas for a Dollar, by Gale Sears. It’s the Depression, and the Kamp family is struggling, especially since Mrs. Kamp’s sudden passing. What will this family do to find peace and comfort this particular Christmas? Based on a true story, you’ll love reading how each family member comes up with thoughtful gifts for one another–each for just a dollar. This charming Christmas book may even inspire your family to do something similar, to be more giving with one another, especially after you read how each gift was lovingly made or selected and loved by its recipient.
Penny’s Christmas Jar Miracle, by Jason F. Wright. Penny Paisley and her family save money in their Christmas jars all year long. The money isn’t used to buy their own gifts but, instead, is used to brighten someone else’s Christmas. Every year they look forward to finding a deserving recipient. This year they decide to use the money for a neighborhood Christmas party–to share with everyone they know! Penny is excited and even sets up a hot chocolate stand to earn more money. The party funds are growing, but then Penny notices something seems different about her kind neighbor, Mr. Charlie. He’s retired and lives on limited funds but is always generous with what he has. Suddenly, his truck is up for sale. Something is amiss. Penny pays him a visit, only to discover he’s quite ill and needs money for medicine. You might already guess the ending, but this charming story shows how the whole neighborhood pulls together to help–with finances and love.
The Christmas Train, by Thomas S. Monson. Based on another true story during the Depression, young Tommy Monson is fortunate to receive a deluxe electronic train set for his Christmas gift. Not many boys’ families can afford such a luxury. Tommy is thrilled with his gift and plays with it all day. That afternoon, his mother shows him a wind-up train set she has purchased for a neighbor boy. Being a typical child, Tommy sees one car in that set that he really wants. So his mother reluctantly give it to him and wraps the rest. Then together they deliver the gift. When Tommy sees how the other boy is absolutely thrilled with his gift, Tommy rethinks what he’s done. The other boy doesn’t know a piece of his set is missing. What does Tommy do? There’s actually a little twist to this story. You’ll want to share it with your children.
God Bless Your Way, by Emily Freeman. Fictional character Micah, poorest of the poor and old, follows Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem on their weary journey. Upon arriving, they go their separate ways. Micah wanders the streets, seeking a place to spend the night. A few people show kindness, offering a loaf of bread and a blanket, but no one has room for him. Ultimately, he finds he fellow exhausted travelers at the inn. Mary and Joseph make room for him, and he humbly shares the only things he has, gifts from kind strangers.
Winter’s Gift, by Jane Monroe Donovan. Sometimes the best gifts aren’t material. In fact, the best gift is hope. The old man and his wife used to have the best, simple Christmases together. But this Christmas Eve day, he’s alone and missing his deceased wife terribly. Still, life must go on. So he trudges through the daily tasks. As night draws near, he hears a noise outside and goes out into a snowstorm to see what it might be. He finally ears a soft whinny, and helps a lost, stranded mare into his warm barn. Making her as comfortable as possible, he then drifts off to sleep. Next morning, there’s a surprise in the barn. You’ll have to read to find out. But it’s a special gift you with a reminder to hope.
Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl S. Buck. This is one of my most favorite children’s Christmas books about giving. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm, and that’s the setting for this story. As such, the message is simple, heartwarming, and down to earth. Young Rob wants to get his father something very special for Christmas. But he doesn’t have much money to spend. Eventually he finds the perfect gift–and it doesn’t cost any money. Enjoy this book with your children and discuss what they or you as a family might do for someone without spending anything. I bet you’ll be surprised by their thoughtful answers, and if you put plans into action, you just might be surprised how much the recipient loves this gift–more than any other.
Many of us want to teaching our children that Christmas is all about giving, not just receiving. Each of these charming children’s books shares the message beautifully. May they warm your holiday season as much as they have ours–for years.
Which children’s Christmas books about giving are your favorites? We’d love to read them too. Please comment.