Books & Reading · Faith At Home

Three Things We’re Doing to Build a Strong Family

I wish so badly that there was some sort of formula for parenting.

That if you fed your kids a certain number of vegetables, took them to church a certain number of times, and gave them a certain number of goodnight kisses, you could guarantee that things would turn out the way you wanted them to.

Unfortunately, like so many other things in life, there is no one clear-cut way to guarantee results in your parenting. The longer I serve the Lord, the more I realize that beyond the basic right and wrong, it is absolutely essential to be yielded to the Lord’s leading in all that we do, especially in parenting.

Remember what Mary said to the servants at the wedding in Cana? “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

Mary knew Jesus. She knew his authority and his power. She trusted that if the servants followed his guidance, Jesus would make things right.

So before I share about the ways we are building a strong family, I want to preface it with this: do whatever he tells you. I really think that these pillars of our family culture are beneficial for all kids, and research even backs up how important and foundational some of these practices are. But you have to start with the vision God gives for your own family. If one or more of these doesn’t resonate with you in your season or particular family dynamics, and most importantly, if God is leading you to do something different, then by all means do that.

But like I said, I think for most families these three things will help, over time, to build a foundation for a resilient, close-knit, healthy family.

  1. Share stories

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Stories matter. Did you know that one of the biggest predictors of a child’s ACT scores—more than race or gender or socioeconomic status—is whether or not that child’s parents read to him or her? But even if it didn’t virtually guarantee academic results, I’d still read my kids stories. Jesus told stories. The Bible itself is a story. Stories show us who we are and who we can be like nothing else can, and being able to pass that on virtue and character to our kids through stories is a priceless gift.

  1. Share meals together

There are so many studies that point to the overwhelming importance of regular family meals. Kids whose families eat together are less likely to be overweight or become addicted to drugs. They are also more likely to do well in school, and be resilient in the face of adversity. But again, I think there is a strong case for eating with your family even if these factors were not in play. Food plays an extremely important role in the Bible, and if Jesus spent time eating with his disciples, shouldn’t we eat with the disciples he has entrusted to our care?

I know that, at least for me, the time and effort it takes to make regular family meals happen can be a challenge. Soon, I’ll share some more strategies for making this a little easier, but there’s one big thing that really helps us make family meals a priority: we eat breakfast together.

Several years ago, another pastor’s wife shared with me that family breakfasts worked better with their weird schedule, and I instantly realized what a game-changer that would be for us. Now, I feel more off-kilter when we haven’t had a sit-down breakfast in a few days, than when we’ve missed a bunch of dinners in a row. If dinner works for you, that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t, know that it doesn’t have to be at night to count as a family meal.

  1. Share time in nature

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Kids absolutely need time outside. Period. Not only does it help their physical bodies, but it’s so much easier for us to wonder at the mystery of God’s creation when we are out in it. Standing at the edge of the ocean, climbing to a mountain peak, sleeping under a canopy of stars—these are the things that absolutely take my breath away at the beauty and majesty of our God. I want to pass those same experiences on to my children, so we try as much as we can to explore and camp and go on hikes.

And one more, as a bonus:

  1. Play Games

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I would be remiss if I left if out because this is such a big part of who we are as a family. Jason and I both come from game-playing families, and playing games together was an early part of our relationship. We love sitting around the table and playing games with our family (the big people) and we would love for that to be true with our own kids when they are grown. I don’t know if there’s any research backing up the importance of a regular family game night (something we’re trying to get more consistent at doing), but playing games teaches kids to be gracious winners and losers, to cooperate, to think strategically, and a host of other skills. Plus it’s tons of fun!

So, that’s what we are doing. Like I said, there’s no formula, but I think if I can do these things consistently over the next decade or so, these habits will eventually bear good fruit in my kids’ lives. So now you tell me: did I leave anything out? What do you do to build a strong family? And do you have any tips or tricks to make it easier to implement these habits? Let me know!

Books & Reading

The Best Books I Read in 2018

I’m an avid reader.

It’s always been one of my favorite hobbies. According to Goodreads, I read over 130 books last year. (My husband is pretty sure I have a problem, and he might be right). But of all those books, a few stand out as really incredible. I’ve limited myself to 12 total: four novels, four works of nonfiction, and four children’s books. So you can be sure that I really thought they were great.

Best novels

The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers – Francine Rivers has long been one of my favorite authors. Redeeming Love has always been my favorite book of hers, but this new one might be a close second. It’s that good.

The Almost Sisters, Joshilyn Jackson – Heads up: this book has some language and some adult themes (the main character gets pregnant out of wedlock). But there are also some powerfully redemptive messages in it, enough to suggest to me that maybe the author is a Christian? Plus, it’s a really good story.

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Stetterfield – I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a mystery so thoroughly. I couldn’t wait to figure out the twist, and the setting and characters were very reminiscent of the Bronte sisters’ work. If you love Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, this is a book you’ll want to read.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Patti Callahan – This is a fictionalized retelling of how C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman met and fell in love (though Joy’s son says it’s very much based on the truth). It’s a wonderful picture of the life of one of my very favorite authors.

Best nonfiction

Martin Luther, Eric Metaxas – This book is long, but it’s worth your time if you like biographies. I loved learning so much about a man whose life I knew very little about—and whose work had such a profound impact on the church today. If this is too long for you, I also highly recommend his book, 7 Women, which is seven mini-biographies of important female historical figures.

The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel – My husband, Jason, has devoted much of his time to the study of apologetics, and for someone just starting out, this is one of the first books he recommends. Now I can see why. The book’s compelling narrative, in which author Lee Strobel diligently searches for the truth, serves as a framework for a lot of detailed information concerning the historical and scientific evidence for what we believe as Christians. The movie is also superb.

The Road Back to You, Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile – This was not my introduction to the Enneagram, but I wish it had been. This is a great place to start if you’re just discovering the nine types, and still trying to figure out your own.

Letters to the Church, Francis Chan – This book encapsulates a lot of what God has been stirring in mine and Jason’s hearts regarding the church as we have pondered what is next for our family. But it was also deeply personally challenging, as Francis Chan looked honestly at the discrepancies between the New Testament and modern American church, and encourages believers to pursue a closer walk with Jesus.

Best kids books

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, Maryrose Wood – Imagine Jane Eyre meets Jungle Book. This terrific series had my kids (and me) engaged from the first book to the last.

The Green Ember series, S. D. Smith – I’ll be honest, the first time I read The Green Ember, it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t dislike it, exactly, but I didn’t love it either. But reading it aloud to my kids has given me a whole new perspective on this series. As a mom of boys, I love stories that encourage them to be brave and selfless, to see themselves as warriors for everything that is good and true, and these books do exactly that. We’re currently reading the second book in this series and loving it.

Bob, Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead – This is a sweet book about a girl and her forgotten imaginary friend. It’s beautifully written, and I hope it wins the Newbery award.

Now We Are Six, A. A. Milne –While I was familiar with Milne’s Winne the Pooh stories, this year was the first time I’d ever read his poetry for children, and I adored it. We read these aloud over the course of several Monday afternoons, when we have a weekly poetry teatime.

 

I hope you enjoy these book recommendations, and find something on this list you think you might enjoy. If you want to keep more up-to-date on what I’m reading, I post a picture of books I’m trying almost weekly on Instagram (the photo above is one I posted about a month ago), and you can always see  everything I’m reading on Goodreads. But please note that my picking it up is not an endorsement: there are many books I read last year that I would not recommend to someone else. Some I just didn’t enjoy, in some cases I blatantly disagreed with the author, and some I couldn’t even finish because I disliked them so much.

If you’re curious about a particular title, please ask me.

Also, if you love book recommendations as much as I do, a couple of my favorite bloggers just released their “favorites of 2018” lists on their own blogs. You can see The Lazy Genius’s list here, and Emily Freeman’s here. I’ve added several of their recommended titles to my own list for what to read next year.

**Some of the links in the post are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission off anything you purchase  at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting me!

Books & Reading · Holidays

Links for Thanksgiving

I just love Thanksgiving.

I love Christmas, too, of course, but sometimes the oh-so-very-important meaning behind the holiday gets overshadowed by the gifts we exchange.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have that problem. More than any other holiday I can think of, Thanksgiving is a time to simply enjoy good food with the people you love. We are celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband’s family this year—we’ve rented a house a few hours away, and we’ll all be together for several days. I can’t wait.

This Thanksgiving is special in some new ways, too. We’ve been studying American history this year with our boys, and so more than ever before, they’re aware of the rich history behind this holiday and some of its traditions.

If you’re looking for some new books, songs, or traditions to add to your family’s celebration this year, I’ve gathered a list of some of my favorites below:

To Read

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dagliesh

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Give Thanks Bible reading plan from She Reads Truth

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving All Year

To Listen To

My Thanksgiving Playlist on Spotify

“Stepping Stones,” Part 1 and Part 2, an Adventures in Odyssey story about the Pilgrims

To Make

Chex Party Mix (use the oven method, not the microwave method; it makes a difference!)

A Thanksgiving Tree

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie (expert sources and my dad confirm it’s the best)

 

I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

 

Books & Reading · Holidays

5 Ways To Celebrate the True Meaning of Easter with Your Kids

When I was a new mom, I didn’t realize that you don’t have to have all the traditions for all your holidays and special occasions all figured out from the moment your firstborn enters the world.

Thanks goodness for that.

But it was hard for me at first. I had all these ideas that the special things I did growing up would be easy to automatically implement with my own children.

That wasn’t quite the case, especially when it came to Easter.

As family in ministry, Easter has always been an extremely full day for us. Most churches, of course, want to plan a service that somehow attempts to adequately celebrate all Christ has done. But also, Easter is a time when many who would not normally darken the doors of a church are willing to come. For many pastoral families, mine included, this means extra services or special events.

It was hard, those first few years, for me to adjust my expectations from how I’d grown up. We would always have an egg hunt in the living room before church, then eat a special breakfast before changing into our fancy new clothes.

But when you’re a pastor’s wife, either your whole family has to be at church very early, or you have to let your husband leave the house while you get the rest of the family ready without him. (We’ve done both at different points).

I could not celebrate Easter in my own home the way I had as a child in my parents’ home.

As I said, at first I was disappointed. When we couldn’t have a special breakfast and scour the house for eggs first thing in the morning, I thought, Well, then, I guess we just can’t do anything special.

I’m so glad I was wrong.

My boys are six and seven now, and we’ve finally found some ways of marking the season that fit us. Like so many of our traditions, the way we celebrate Easter has grown out of our family dynamics, a willingness to work within our schedule, and by learning what resonates with our children’s individual personalities.

I can’t figure out for you what Easter traditions will work in your home.

But if you’re looking for some new ideas of how to make the season special, ideas that respect and reinforce the true meaning of Easter, I’ve put together a list of things you might want to try.

Fast together before Easter

It’s too late to observe Lent if you’re not already doing so, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fast, or give up something as you prepare your heart for Easter.

Our kids, at 6 and 7, are at the age where we are just beginning to explain to them and model for them the concept of fasting and self-denial.

While I believe that biblical term “fasting” really applies only to food (that’s another post for another day), any act of self-denial helps us to identify with Christ, and hopefully to understand that no matter what we do, we can’t really live righteously on our own.

Even if it’s just for a week, you could purpose as a family to go without something –sweets or TV or whatever might be meaningful for you. Whenever it feels inconvenient or uncomfortable, talk to your kids about what Christ gave up for us. Then when Easter comes, celebrate together that Jesus is alive and that he gives us abundant life in Him!

Attend a sunrise service

If you’re a parent to tinies, this one probably isn’t for you, and this isn’t something that makes sense for our family right now. But if you have older kids and are willing to get up a little early, this can be a really meaningful way to connect them with the wonderful news those women heard at dawn when they went to the tomb: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6).

Use Resurrection Eggs to tell the Easter story

This is a newer addition to our family’s celebration. We bought a set of Resurrection Eggs a couple years ago for our church at the recommendation of some friends in children’s ministry, and when I found out what they were, I had to get some for our family.

If you’re not familiar with them, Resurrection Eggs are just like regular plastic Easter eggs, but instead of candy, each egg is filled with an object that relates to part of the Easter story.

This is how we use them in our family: starting about two weeks before Easter, we get the eggs out and open one that night. We look at what’s inside, and read a passage of Scripture relating to that part of the story. After that first night, we keep going back to the beginning, having our kids take turns telling the part of the story each object represents before moving on to that night’s egg.

What I love about using these eggs is the way it has helped develop biblical literacy in my sons’ lives. By the time we got to the last egg last year (spoiler: it’s empty!), the details of the Easter story were ingrained in their hearts from several nights of retelling it. And because of the eggs and the little trinkets, they were always so excited to do it. Any time I can make understanding Scripture fun for my kids, I’m all in.

We have this set, which comes with a little guidebook. But if you’re on a tight budget, it’s not too hard to make your own.

Make resurrection cookies or hot cross buns

There’s nothing quite like special food to set apart a special day. We have all kinds of holiday favorites in our house: birthday cakes and cupcakes, Valentine’s Day cinnamon rolls, and Christmas cookies.

You may already have food traditions for Easter, but if you have room for one or two more, these can be fun because they offer a way to tell the Easter story to your kids.

Resurrection cookies are meringues that sit in the oven overnight, and when you bite into them the next morning, they’re empty inside! There are also several ways to connect the ingredients and process to the Easter story as you make them together. I like the recipe and instructions here.

Hot cross buns have a long-standing history in the church as a traditional Easter food (eaten on Good Friday). Like the resurrection cookies, there are elements of making them that can be connected to the Easter story (the dough is beaten like Jesus was, you add spices like the women used to prepare Jesus’ body), and of course, the cross carved or iced on the top reminds us of Jesus’ death. This is my favorite recipe.

Have a Passover Meal

This is a tradition that we just stumbled into. One Spring, several years ago, we were reading in the Jesus Storybook Bible about how Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples the night before he died. My son was intrigued and asked if we could have our own Passover meal sometime.

I hadn’t planned it out this way at all, but that night was the Wednesday before Easter. So, on a whim, I said we could have Passover the very next night – the night before Good Friday, just like Jesus did.

Now, it’s something my kids really look forward to. While we eat, we talk about the first Passover and how God led his people out of slavery and how death passed over them because of the blood of the lamb. And then we talk about that meal that Jesus had with his disciples, and how he is the Passover Lamb who saves us from death and slavery to sin.

I absolutely love it. You can read more about how we celebrate this special meal, including what I make for us to eat right here

 

I hope this gives you some ideas of how you could make this Easter even more meaningful for your family. It’s the best news in the world, and it deserves our marking it with a special celebration: He is risen!

 

**Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy something using them. Thanks so much for supporting me!

Books & Reading · Faith At Home · Holidays

My Favorite Bibles for Kids (Just in Time for Easter!)

I don’t know what you’re planning to give your kids for Easter this year (if anything), but I am ridiculously excited to give my kids their first real Bibles.

They have a lot of picture-book Bibles, and they were given New Testaments when they were dedicated as babies, but since they’re both emerging readers, and since they’re going to classes where it matters if they have a Bible with them or not, it seemed like time to make sure they have their own copies of God’s Word.

So, in case you’re wanting to give Bibles to the littles (or anyone else!) in your life this Easter, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites.

For little kids:

The Jesus Storybook Bible
I cannot recommend this Bible highly enough. I bought it for my boys when they were babies, and I just bought it for my brand-new niece, too. We’ve read through it several times as a family, and my kids love the DVDs, too. I love how it shows how the entire Bible points to Jesus, and the language of the storytelling is beautiful and fun to read.

Read And Learn Bible
This was one of the first Bibles we started using for bedtime stories when my boys were very small (as in, under two). The stories are very, very short, but what I love about it is how much of the Bible it includes (it’s the only kids’ Bible I’ve ever seen that tells the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel 2), and how close it stays to the actual language of the Bible. This is a great Bible to read to wiggly toddlers.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
This amazing book tells the entire narrative of the Bible in 10 short chapters. It’s such a good look at the overall picture that the Bible is telling and helps kids see where all those little stories like David and Goliath and Daniel and the lion’s den fit in the BIG story God is telling throughout history. Also, the illustrations in this are just lovely.

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook
This is by the people behind the Gospel Project curriculum. We bought this when we were considering using their curriculum for our church, but it quickly became a favorite bedtime read-aloud in our home. Like the Jesus Storybook Bible, this shows how the whole Bible points to Jesus, but it covers a whole lot more stories. This one will take you a while to get through (I think there are about 150 stories), and there’s only one illustration per story, so this one isn’t great for the littlest kids. But we’ve found 4-6 to be a great age for this Bible, and there’s a question at the end of each lesson to help you gauge if your kids are really getting what the story is saying.

For bigger kids:

The Adventure Bible
This the Bible I had as a kid, and the very first Bible I read all the way through (for my Honor Star requirements; if you grew up in an A/G church, you know what I’m talking about). This is also what we got for Caleb for Easter this year (this one). It has some child-appropriate study helps that I think will really be useful for him as he learns and grows. We chose NIrV for him (after a LOT of deliberation) because we believe it will encourage him to read this on his own, but this Bible is available in several versions.

The Big Picture Interactive Bible
This is what we got for Garrett for Easter (this version). I love that it has the same illustrations as the Big Picture storybook they’ve been reading from, and I think it will help him transition better from picture books to a big kids’ Bible, and help him stay interested in it while he is still learning to read. This isn’t available in as many versions as the Adventure Bible, but there are still a few options to choose from.

THE BIBLE STORY Complete 10 Volume Set
This is a 10-volume set. Don’t be put off by its outdated appearance; this is a fantastic Bible story set. We only have two volumes so far, so I haven’t read every single story, but what I have read, I’ve been very impressed with. Like so many of my other favorite Bibles, these show how each story the Bible tells is part of a larger whole of what God is doing. Also, when I first became a parent, I was disappointed by how many kids’ Bibles (even some I remembered loving) presented a very works-based concept of salvation, as if the whole message of the Bible was to be a good girl or boy. This Bible doesn’t fall into that trap–it explains, in kid-friendly language, how we can’t be good enough, and that is why we need Jesus. Finally, these books are beautifully illustrated with the types of pictures I hope form my kids’ imaginations as they grow.

For everyone else on your list:

The Books of the Bible
This is one of my favorite ways to really read the Bible. There are no chapter or verse numbers to distract from the text, so this is excellent for when you want to read a long passage or an entire book in one sitting. One day recently, when we were going through the hard season at the end of our church, I was feeling frustrated and read through the entire book of Job one afternoon. I don’t think I could have done that as easily in any other Bible. It’s in TNIV, which I don’t think lasted for very long, and I’m not sure why, but as far as I can tell, most of the text is very similar to NIV (my preferred version), and like I said, I use this for reading, not for study.

Journaling Bible
I write a lot of notes in my Bible, and I’m happy with the Bible that I have, but whenever I’m in the market for a new one, I imagine I’ll get something like this with wide margins to give me room for more thoughts.

Fire Bible: New International Version, Student Edition
This is Jason’s go-to study Bible. The study notes are comprehensive, and written from a Pentecostal perspective. We loved recommending this to our students when we were youth pastors, and we love it for ourselves as pastors.

 

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for any purchases you make using the some of the links. Thanks for supporting Faith Starts at Home!

Books & Reading

Remember Who You Are

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Some of the very best books I read last year were the four books in the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. I’ve been wanting to tell you all about it for a while, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long, but my love for this series was so deep, I’ve had some trouble finding the right words to tell you about it.

The books are a wonderful fantasy series, with a lot of allegorical elements. If you like Chronicles of Narnia, I think you will really like these books. (They’re also great for fans of Harry Potter, but without all the stuff in Harry Potter that some parents object to.)

I’m still processing a lot of the things I loved about the Wingfeathers and their story, but one of my favorite things about it is how important the character’s names are to their identities.

I don’t want to give too much away, but at one point in the second or third book, one of the main characters gives into a hopelessness and a false promise of power, and ends up broken, changed, and struggling to keep his sanity. The thing that saves him from the brink is the moment when he is able to remember his own name, and that theme continues to play out throughout the rest of the book.

When Nia, the mother in the story, drops her children off at school each day, she leaves them with these words: “Remember who you are.” And as the battle between good and evil escalates in the story, the brothers repeat this back to each other, sometimes asking “who are you?” and sometimes declaring powerfully true identities over each other when they are too weak to do it themselves.

I was instantly struck by the parallels between this story and the very real war that we are engaged in. Although we who have decided to follow Jesus belong to the King of Kings and have the promise of new name, we live in enemy territory, and are surrounded on a daily basis by voices that want to remind of us who we were, and make us believe that our past defines who we still are.

I want more for myself than who I was before Jesus. Don’t you?

I want to remember who I am.

Over the past year or two, the Lord has been revealing places in my life where I am full of fear, and don’t completely trust Him. It’s been painful to look at the parts of my heart that still need work, but it has also been so sweet to realize that Jesus knew they were there all along and has been patiently waiting for me to turn them over to Him.

In His gentle way, the Spirit reminded me who I am, not just as a child of God, but who I am, specifically. My first name, Amy, means “beloved,” and in those moments when I was most deeply struggling with my fears, God reminded me that at my core, I am someone who is loved by Him.

My middle name, Elizabeth, led me to Luke 1. This amazing woman whose name I bear was the first person in the New Testament to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and she raised a son who was fully committed to the kingdom of God and the role God gave him to play in it. Those are things I desperately want in my own life, and as I read and studied about Elizabeth, it felt like God was confirming to me that he heard my prayers and foreknew the deepest desires of my heart from the moment I was named.

Your name is not a trivial thing.

I don’t know what names the enemy will call you today, but they do not have to be your identity. Today, as you send emails, or fold laundry, or run errands, or make lunch, remember who you are.

It changes everything.

Books & Reading · Holidays

Picture Books We’re Reading This Christmas

Picture Books We’re Reading This Christmas

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for any purchases you make using the some of the links. Thanks for supporting Faith Starts at Home!

I mentioned last week one of my favorite things we are doing for Advent this year: a Christmas picture book every day. In case you were curious, I thought I’d share the full list of titles we are reading. Most of these we own; a few of the early ones we got from the library. There are new favorites on here, along with books the boys have been reading every Christmas, and even a few that were mine when I was a kid.

I wrapped up all the books back in October, when our schedule was a little calmer, and wrote the names on the spines in pencil. Then on Thanksgiving night, I pulled them all out and numbered them.

Here’s what we are reading each day:

Nov 25: Christmas Trolls // Jan Brett

Nov 26: Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree // Robert Barry

Nov 27: Christmas Cricket // Eve Bunting

Nov 28: Good King Wenceslas // Jane Seymour

Nov 29: Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas // Julie Rawlinson

Nov 30: The Legend of the Poinsettia // Tomie dePaola

Dec 1: Snow Day! // Courtney Carbone

Dec 2: Polar Express // Chris Van Allsburg (The version we have came with the audiobook, which is read by Liam Neeson, and it is fantastic.)

Dec 3: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey // Susan Wojciechowski

Dec 4: How the Grinch Stole Christmas // Dr. Seuss

Dec 5: The Hat // Jan Brett

Dec 6: Santa, Are You For Real? // Harold Myra

Dec 7: The Legend of the Candy Cane // Lori Walburg

Dec 8: Merry Christmas, Curious George // H. A. Rey and Catherine Hapka

Dec 9: The Wild Christmas Reindeer // Jan Brett

Dec 10: The Night Before Christmas // Charles Santore

Dec 11: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Peanuts) // Charles Shulz

Dec 12: The Bears’ Christmas // Stan and Jan Berenstain

Dec 13: The Nutcracker // Ronald Kidd
(I’ve also heard good things about this version of the story, and this one.)

Dec 14: Gingerbread Baby // Jan Brett

Dec 15: Bear Stays Up for Christmas // Karma Wilson

Dec 16: Christmas in the Big Woods // Laura Ingalls Wilder

Dec 17: The Night Before Christmas // Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Dec 18: Country Angel Christmas // Tomie dePaola

Dec 19: The Night of Las Posadas // Tomie dePaola

Dec 20: The Tale of Three Trees // Angela Elwell Hunt

Dec 21: The Crippled Lamb // Max Lucado

Dec 22: Humphrey’s First Christmas // Carol Heyer

Dec 23: Cock-A-Doodle Christmas! // Will Hillenbrand

Dec 24: Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story // Sally Lloyd-Jones

Like I said, some of these were from the library, and so I had to just go with what was available, but for the most part, these books are ones I love and heartily recommend. There’s a good mix here of books that mention Santa, and books that don’t, so whichever is your persuasion, hopefully there’s plenty here to suit you.

And if you need more recommendations, there are more great lists of Christmas picture books at  All About Reading, Brightly, the Read-Aloud Revival, and Money-Saving Mom.