Category Archives: Book Reviews

Advent and Christmas Books, Music and Film for Children

Read some of these each year to make some fond family memories and teach your children about the real meaning of Christmas!

You can also download this list in PDF format: TCC Kids Advent Christmas Recommendations.

Christmas Picture Books for Children

Bergen, Lisa Tawn. God Gave Us Christmas. A little bear discovers that Jesus is the best present of all. (Board Book)

Bowman, Crystal. She has many Christmas themed board books that try to point to Christ. Try A Star for Jesus or many others. (Board Book)

Carlson, Melody. Twas the Night: The Nativity Story. A retelling of the nativity story to the cadence of the poem “The Night Before Christmas”. (Preschool-Up)

Graham, Ruth Bell. One Wintry Night. A boy hears the Christmas story, from Creation through Resurrection. (Grades 3+)

Gully, Beth. The Other Side of Christmas. Blending the Santa story with the Jesus story, this book will be a favorite for years to come for the young and the young at heart.

Heyer, Carol. Humphrey’s First Christmas. Story of the wise men from the perspective of their camel. (Preschool-Up)

Higgs, Liz Curtis. The Pine Tree Parable. A farmer’s wife learns the blessings of being generous. (Preschool-Up)

Hodges, Margaret. Silent Night: The Song and Its Story. Gives the beautiful story of how the song came to be written. (Kindergarten-Up)

Hunt, Angela Elwell. The Tale of the Three Trees. A folk tale about three trees that grow up to be Jesus’ manger, boat, and cross tells the tale of Jesus’ life and ministry. (Preschool-Up)

Idle, Molly. Night, Night Baby Jesus– The animals in the manger welcome the baby Jesus. (Preschool)

Jeffers, Susan. Silent Night– sets the words of the hymn to pictures of the nativity. (Kindergarten-Up)

Johnson, Eldon. The King’s Christmas List. Emma can’t wait to go to the King’s birthday party—but doesn’t know what gift to bring. (Preschool-Up)

Jones, Sally Lloyd. My Merry Christmas and the Real Reason for Christmas Joy. This book helps children relate secular holiday customs and symbols to something more important: Jesus’ birth. (Preschool-Up)

Jones, Sally Lloyd. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story. Beautiful book describes how creation celebrates the coming of Jesus. (Preschool-Up)

Lowry, Mark. Mary, Did You Know? Views the nativity from Mary’s perspective. (Preschool-Up)

Lucado, Max. The Crippled Lamb. Beautiful story of a little lamb with a crippled leg who discovers that God has a special purpose for his life. (Preschool-Up)

Mackall, Dandi Daley. The Gift of the Christmas Cookie. Helps teach the meaning of Christmas through Christmas cookies. (Preschool-Up)

Mead, Arden. Do You See What I See? A Seek and Find Book for Advent. Tells the Christmas story through devotions, rhymes, and picture puzzles. (Kindergarten-Up)

Myra, Harold. Santa, Are You For Real? This story tells about the historic Saint Nicholas, without getting into whether or not Santa is real. (Preschool-Up)

Osborne, Rick. The Legend of the Christmas Tree. Children discover how the evergreen tree became the familiar Christmas symbol. (Preschool-Up)

Osborne, Rick. The Legend of the Christmas Stocking. A little boy discovers the meaning behind hanging and filling Christmas stockings. (Preschool-Up)

Stiegemeyer, Julie. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend. Tells the true story of Nicholas and how he served God and reflected God’s love to others. (Kindergarten-Up)

Tangvald, Christine. The Best Thing about Christmas. This book celebrates the wonderful things about Christmas- presents, family, food, but explains that the best thing is Jesus! (Preschool-Up)

Vivas, Julie. The Nativity. This book takes the KJV Christmas story and combines it with engaging illustrations. (Preschool-Up)

Walburg, Lori. The Legend of the Candy Cane. Beautiful story explains how the favorite Christmas candy points to Jesus. (Preschool-Up)

Waddell, Martin. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale. The animals come one by one into the shelter of a stable—until a donkey comes bearing Mary and Joseph. (Preschool-Up)

Wangerin Jr., Walter. Mary’s First Christmas. Mary tells her five year old son about the special night of His birth. (Preschool-Up)

Watson, Jane Werner. The Christmas Story. Classic Golden Book retelling of the Christmas story. (Preschool-Up)

Wojchiechowski , Susan. Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.  Beautiful story tells the message of Christmas and how it slowly transforms a lonely woodcarver. (1st Grade-Up)

Read Alouds/Books for Older Children

The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Robinson

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Familyman Christmas a treasury by Todd Wilson

Advent Family Devotionals

James, Scott. The Expected One. This devotional focuses on the promises of God leading up to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. (Elementary-Up)

Garborg, Carol. When will it be Christmas? 25 Stories and Family activities for advent. Capture the childhood excitement and joy of counting down the days until Christmas with this fun hands-on devotional.

Ramsey, Russ. Behold the Lamb of God. Personal and family devotional tracing the promise of God through Scripture. Has an accompanying CD by Andrew Peterson. (Junior High-Up)

White, Amanda. Truth in the Tinsel. Goes through the Christmas story with crafts for each day. (Preschool-Up)

Ytreeide, Arnold. Arnold has published several Advent devotionals which tell the Christmas story through the eyes of a child living in ancient Israel. The stories and characters all connect together and are meant to be read from Advent-Christmas. (Elementary-Up)

  1. Jotham’s Journey
  2. Bartholomew’s Passage
  3. Tabitha’s Travels
  4. Ishtar’s Odyssey

DVDs

Why Do We Call It Christmas (What’s in the Bible)— Addresses many common Christmas traditions and how they all point to Christ.  (also available for FREE streaming through the church’s Right Now Media account. )

The Nativity Story– movie appropriate for older children

Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas– tells the story of the man behind Santa Claus.

Music

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas by Randall Goodgame– features both Christmas hymns and silly songs. Randall hosted a Slugs and Bugs concert at our church last year.

Waiting Songs– Rain for Roots- advent songs for children.

Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson- songs which accompany the devotional listed above.

 

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Easter Picture Books for Children

This week, we’d like to highlight some picture books that parents can use to help their preschoolers learn the true story of Easter:

My Easter Basket and the True Story of Easter by Mary Manz Simon

This board book teaches about the real meaning of Easter using different colors of things found in an Easter basket. It’s a simple, gentle introduction to the Easter story that could be easily duplicated in your child’s Easter basket.

The Best Thing about Easter by Christine Tangvald

This book is a nice explanation of how we can enjoy many different things at Easter time (candy, dying eggs, new clothes), but that none of these things are the best thing about Easter. The book makes no mention the Easter bunny, if that is a concern of your household.

The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs

This is a beautiful story about a little girl who receives a mysterious gift. She’s disappointed when it turns out to be a bunch of dirt and tosses the lifeless bulb away. She is surprised when the bulb comes to life as a beautiful Easter lily! It teaches children about the power of grace and forgiveness. (One of a series of four parable books which correspond to each season)
Easter Bunny Are You For Real? by Harold Myra

This book tries to answer the question “what does the Easter Bunny have to do with Easter”? It teaches children about the true meaning behind the traditions our culture uses to celebrate Easter and Spring. While mentioning the Easter Bunny, it never really answers the question of whether the Easter Bunny is real. [So it won’t ruin the fun if the Easter Bunny visits your family.]

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Teaching Your Children the Story of Easter with Resurrection Eggs

Easter is just around the corner! With that in mind, we’d like to, in the coming weeks, share some resources to help you and your family celebrate the true meaning of Easter.

First, we’ll highlight Resurrection Eggs. Resurrection Eggs are a fun , hands-on and creative way to help your children learn the story of Easter. This kit from Family Life Ministries features twelve colorful plastic eggs. Each egg contains a small object to help tell the Easter story. Over the course of the twelve days before Easter, you and your children open one egg each day and read a short devotional from the included book.
During this period, you trace Jesus’ final week from Palm Sunday through His glorious resurrection. The book also includes ideas for presenting the gospel to your children. This is such a fun Easter tradition you and your children will look forward to every year!  It’s an ideal way to present the Easter story to preschool and elementary aged children.

There are also some wonderful picture books that tie-in to the resurrection egg theme:

  • Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson– this picture book is about a little boy named Benjamin who follows Jesus through His last week, collecting treasures along the way. Through this journey, Benjamin comes to learn the good news about Jesus! There are 14 little chapters that you could read aloud to your children. The final 12 chapters coordinate with the treasures found in the Resurrection Eggs.
  • The Story of the Resurrection Eggs in Rhyme and Song by Jean Thompson and Nancy Gordon- this Miss Patty Cake book goes through seven of the Resurrection Eggs for preschoolers, helping open up the wonder of Easter. There is also a DVD which can accompany the book- Miss PattyCake’s Easter Eggstravaganza.

If you’re on a budget, here’s a helpful tutorial on how to make your own resurrection eggs. Or you could do a paper version.

Want to do more? The website 2 Teaching Mommies has activities to go with each egg for those moms and children who enjoy crafts.

May you and your family be blessed as you prepare for Easter!

Resurrection Eggs can be found online or in most Christian bookstores.

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Don’t Make Me Count to Three!

I was delighted to receive a Kindle Touch this Christmas. One of the first ebooks I downloaded was Don’t Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman. This book has been on my wish list for a while and we are entering a phase where it seems like discipline is on the forefront of my mind these days (did I mention Jonathan is turning three tomorrow?). Needless to say, as soon as I saw the ebook was on sale, I bought it and devoured it. It was such a timely encouragement to me as a young mom.

Those of you who have been around TCC for a while know that a commonly recommended parenting book is Shepherding a Child’s Heart. This book, by the same publisher, shows more how to practically apply the principles taught in Shepherding a Child’s Heart. 

One of the biggest concepts for me was “as a rule, every time you correct your child for wrong behavior, have him walk through right behavior.” This is part of training in righteousness.  We are not just correcting our children, but instructing them in how to live God’s way. Discipline should go hand in hand with instruction.

Another key point for me was to use God’s Word more in discipline. It is God’s Word that convicts hearts, not my own techniques. It convicted me to try to be more familiar with memory verses and to help my children as well! I bought the companion tool, Wise Words for Moms to help me apply God’s Word to the discipline issues I deal with on a daily basis.

I took away tips on dealing with tattling, whining, sharing, manipulation, as well as how to give a biblical reproof. I certainly still need a lot of wisdom from the Lord in raising my two little ones, but I know this is one book I will be referring back to time after time!

 

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Read with Me Bible Review

The “Read with Me Bible” is a great, early childhood resource for introducing children to God’s Word. There are two versions: one for toddlers (ages 2-5) and one for preschoolers (ages 4-8).

The toddler version (“Read with Me Bible for toddlers”) has 24 classic Bible stories; 10 are from the Old Testament, and 14 from the New Testament. The age appropriate, paraphrased text helpfully presents the central focus of each story in a format that is easy to understand and engaging for toddlers. The artwork will draw adults and children alike into the story and characters.

The regular preschool version (“Read with Me Bible”) greatly expands its survey of Biblical material and has 106 stories, including often overlooked ones like Elijah’s healing of Naaman. This version uses actual NIrV Bible text (which is rare in preschool Bibles), so it is a great first introduction to God’s word. It also has eye-catching artwork.

We (the Caldwells) have extensively used both of these Bibles with our twin 3-year-old girls, and they love them! They already have their favorite stories that they ask for when it is time for “family oceans” (family devotions : ). They have been a great resource for our family to help instill the love of God’s Word at an early age.

You can purchase them at CBD and other booksellers.

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The Big Picture Story Bible

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm

This is an excellent Bible Story Book for children and adults as well.

This Bible stands out because unlike other Bible storybooks which contain a number of stories from the Bible this book focuses on THE main story of the Bible: the good news about Jesus Christ. This Bible tells the true story of God’s love for the world!

David Helm is a pastor and a gifted storyteller. He begins with the Old Testament and shows how Jesus was promised and prepared for throughout the Old Testament. The sweep of the Old Testament is covered in 11 short chapters hitting many major Old Testament stories along the way.  From God’s Creation of the world to man’s rebelllion and God’s promise of sending a Forever King, this is a faithful overview of the main themes of the Old Testament.

The New Testament is covered in 15 additional chapters from the many silent years of the intertestamental period to the very good ending written by John in Revelation. The majority of the New Testament section focuses appropriately on the life of Christ and shows how Jesus fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament in unexpected ways.

Schoonmaker’s captivating illustrations perfectly capture the emotions of each story. We see the warm, loving relationship that Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator as well as each other. We see the catastrophic loneliness the first sin introduced and the chaos as Israel repeatedly falls short of God’s standard.

In Practice: This Bible contains 26 wonderfully illustrated “chapters”. Each chapter is about the length of a short picture book with one or two lines per page. Two audio CDs are provided with the Bible, which are perfect for a car ride or young children to listen to.

In theory, you could read one chapter a night to your child and give a monthly overview of the gospel. Or, you could focus on one lesson a week and go through the gospel twice in a year. You will probably want to supplement with regular Bible reading, but this should give children the big picture of how all the different Bible stories fit together and point to Christ.

In Summary: In my opinion, this is the best overview of the Bible that children could have. It is very gospel-centered and not moralistic in overtone. Children as young as preschool will learn much from this Bible. Even adults will appreciate this story of a big God who keeps His big promise!

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Christmas Picture Books for Children

This list has been updated– see the updated listing here!

Christmas Picture Books for Children 

Read some of these each year to make some fond family memories and teach your children about the real meaning of Christmas! 

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergen

A Star for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

J is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told by Crystal Bowman

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree by Crystal Bowman

My Christmas Gift by Crystal Bowman

‘Twas the Night: The Nativity Story by Melody Carlson

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

My Merry Christmas and the Real Reason for Christmas Joy by Sally Lloyd Jones

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd Jones

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra

The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer

The Best Thing about Christmas by Christine Tangvald

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell

Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wangerin Jr.

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