I was recently asked about my favorite Nativity stories. Having spent over four decades in the Catholic school system, I have been exposed to a large selection! From the cute and colorful, to soft and beautiful, Nativity Stories are a wonderful way to teach children about the birth of Jesus.
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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
One of our family’s all time favorite stories for ‘showing’ kids the true meaning of Christmas through laughter is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a hilarious junior novel about The Herdmans, the most neglected and feared group of siblings one can imagine. They paralyze their school and town with their antics. The only place anyone felt safe was the church! That is, until the Herdmans decided to take over that, too. This book and the one hour 80’s movie are crowd pleasers for a wide range of elementary school age students and adults. A number of our board’s schools have class sets and the 4th graders do a pre-Christmas novel study. (Teaser: child portraying the virgin Mary smoking a cigarette, little angel of the Lord looking like she just escaped from prison, and their shady brothers cast themselves in the church’s normally squeaky-clean annual pageant.)
Jesus’ Christmas Party
Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allen takes the reader back to the night of Jesus birth. It stands apart because it is told from the point of view of a Bethlehem innkeeper. Despite his inn being full, the poor man can’t get any peace between the expectant couple he let stay in his stable, bright stars, glowing light, and visitors looking for Mary and Joseph and their new baby. He is a man who needs his rest, and is furious (and so very dramatic) with a night full of interruptions! Who are these people, and what is going on out there?
My students loved that they knew the crucial information the Innkeeper was missing, and were going wild trying to tell him! Very high engagement on this story, and excellent model of different points of view!
A is for Angel
A is For Angel: A Christmas Alphabet and Activity Book (Augsburg Books for Children and Families) by Debbie Trafton O’Neal Read about the people, animals, places and things of the story of the birth of Jesus alphabetically! Between Bryan-Hunt’s bright, colorful illustrations and the melodic rhymes for each letter, this book is a joyous celebration of Jesus’ birth. Crafts and activities are an added bonus to extend the experience. Excellent for the pre-K-1st grade crowd!
The Crippled Lamb
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, Jenna Lucado Bishop, Sara Lucado, Liz Bonham (Illustrator), Andrea Lucado
This story is so touching that reading it brought a volunteer grandmother to tears when we gave it to her as a gift from our grade one class. She walked with a cane herself, and she knew how valued she was in our classroom. This story shows kids that Joshua the Lamb was part of a unique plan in Baby Jesus’ story, despite his differences.
What are your favorite stories about the First Christmas?