Kindergarten-Grade 4-Another beautiful offering from dePaola, this one tells the story of a modern-day Las Posadas procession in Santa Fe, NM. An introduction explains the background and history of the old Spanish custom, and a glossary translates the few words of Spanish used in the text. Sister Angie, who recently celebrated her 50th anniversary as a nun, has always coordinated the preparations for her village's celebration. This year, she is especially proud as her niece, Lupe, and Lupe's new husband will portray Maria and Jose. The festivities are jeopardized when Sister Angie comes down with the flu and the young couple's car breaks down in a snowstorm. A miracle occurs when a beautiful carving of Mary and Joseph, given to Sister Angie to commemorate her Golden Jubilee, comes to life to lead the village's procession. The artist's distinctive acrylic artwork, done in the colors of the Southwest, illuminate the story and radiate its reverence and warmth. There are very few books for children about Las Posadas; this one is suitable both for reading aloud to groups and sharing one-on-one.
This children's book is about a five-year-old Mexican girl and her first posada (a Christmas festival in Mexico) and her first Christmas piñata. Children have always loved the story and also have used the book to learn more about the culture and life of another country. "Nine Days to Christmas" is highly recommended. Aurora Labastida was the librarian for children's books in Mexico City and she cowrote this story with Marie Ets who was the illustrator. The book won the 1960 Caldecott Medal for best illustration in a children's book.
The Donkey’s Dream, Barbara Berger
Here the story of the birth of Jesus is presented from the viewpoint of the Donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem. Not knowing for sure what he is carrying that makes him feel so special, he imagines what he is carrying, based on the feelings that he is experiancing. The illustrations are akin to 'illuminations' from the Middle Ages, yet with a more simple, modern touch. The story is excellent for young children (my daughter is two) as the images are rich for discussion and the text is simple and to the point. This book is a good choice for someone wishing to introduce their child to the meaning behind Christmas. It doesn't go into depth, but it does express the touching awe of a donkey that knew he was carrying something very special, the heavens, on his back. I like this book because the illustrations are beautiful to look at, the story is appealing to children, there is a deeper symbolic meaning to the story that can unfold as your child grows, and also because good stories about the meaning of christmas, beyond Santa, reindeer and presents are hard to find.
Night Tree, Eve Bunting
A classic nuclear family shares their own Christmas Eve tradition, leaving their conventionally decorated ranch house in Dad's pickup to deck a live tree in the woods with popcorn and fruit for the forest creatures. It's all deliberately cozy--the constant smiles; the hot chocolate and songs (the boy, who narrates, chooses a carol but little Nina wants ``Old MacDonald''); the boy tucked in at the end under a Christmas quilt that echoes the forest scene. A warm Christmas card of a book, in the best sense; Rand's moonlit watercolors are sure to be as popular as the conventional but warmhearted story. (Picture book. 3-8)
It is a simple story of a family that goes into the woods on Christmas eve to decorate a tree with fruits and nuts for the birds and wild animals. We had a family act it out as a teen read it and it was very effective. Contact me if you would like a file with it ready as a script. Joyce Duncan, Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, Lutherville, MD, email@example.com
The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Patricia Polacco Polacco's (Babushka's Doll) warmhearted memoir can easily be pressed into double duty for both Hanukkah and Christmas reading. On the family farm in Michigan, Trisha and Richard watch as Babushka and Grampa prepare for Hanukkah in their native Russian way, hand-dipping the candles, carving the children gifts of little wooden animals, cooking the latkes. When scarlet fever debilitates their neighbors, Trisha's whole family pitches in to make and deliver holiday dinners and Christmas trees (decorated with the children's wooden animals). Polacco's characteristically buoyant illustrations embody the joy of holiday traditions even as her robust storytelling locates the essence of that joy in sharing and friendship. While this work should have broad appeal, it is in particular an excellent choice for families seeking to mingle Jewish and Christian traditions. Ages 5-10.
Unitarian connections to Christmas
If you want to tie in the Unitarian aspect of the Christmas Tree you could tell the story of Rev. Charles Follen, who introduced the Christmas tree to the U.S. This link was on the list a few months ago but you might look it over and adapt it to your pageant http://www.cuc.ca/canuue/HOLIDAY%20SUPPLEMENT%20031.pdf I am adapting all of this to do "What would Christmas be without UUs?" for our pageant. But I am also adding Dr Seuss'* The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Great Joy, Kate DiCamillo
It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street outside Frances’s apartment. When it’s quiet she can hear their music, and when she looks out her window at midnight, she sees them sleeping outside. Finally the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, but when it’s Frances’s turn to speak, all she can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes — until a door opens just in time, and she finds the perfect words to share. With this luminous tale, Kate DiCamillo pairs with Bagram Ibatoulline to offer a timeless holiday gift.
A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree, Colleen Monroe
This charming tale of an overgrown pine always being passed by for Christmas, and what his woodland friends do to help him, is sure to become a Christmas classic. With delightful illustrations by wildlife artist Michael Monroe and enchanting text from Colleen Monroe, the birds, deer and squirrel of this story help make their special friend's wish come true.