Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Reading List For Advent And Nativity

Usually in June or July I start thinking about the coming of the Nativity Fast, Nativity, and Theophany. I keep an eye out for new books to add to the collection below. I mentioned the collection to a friend and she asked me for the list of titles. Here it is, mostly without comments.

In the Orthodox Church, The Nativity Fast, which is also called Advent start on Nov. 15 and continues through Decemer 24. The feast of the Nativity of Jesus, also called Christmas begins on December 25 and continues though December 31, which we call "The Leavetaking of Nativity. December 6 is the Feast of the Theopany. The period from December 25 through January 5 are commonly called the Twelve Days of Christmas. All the days between these dates I've mentioned are full of activity and observances but these dates are the major ones.

Beginning on November 15 we begin reading to our children the books from this collection, augmented by new purchases, gifts, and the pulic library.

Christ in the Old Testament
This is a very good book. Essentially, it is a collection of 14 or 15 Old Testament passages and their corresponding fulfilments in the New Testament. For example, on the page titled Root Of Jesse are Isaiah 11:1-2,10 and Luke 4:17-21. Now this might seem a liitle boring for pre-school children, and it is. But the illustrations by Niko Chocheli are captivating. A three year old can be kept busy counting crosses, or churches, or grape clusters. A 6 year old can be fascinated by the story salvation told in pictures all through the book. For example, on page is framing the scriptures is leviathan with a hook through his tongue, on the next is leviathan's carcass below the satisfied visage of a lion. And if one knows iconology and alcchemical symbology the illustrations (for example the pelican on the border of the page talking about the Creation of the world) on the pages do not just make the page pretty but call to mind layer upon layer of meaning.

Beginning on December 1 we read one installment each night of the Advent Storybook.

I can only give this book, The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean a so/so recommendation. Its a good story but the writing syle is a little stiff and by youngest son was bored by it last Advent. He had just turned 4. The book is 24 chapters in which a boy interacts with a cranky old craftsman who is employed by a church to carve a Jesse Tree. It also tells the Story of Salvation, from Eden to Bethlehem. I got a kick out of the introduction that talked of "puritan vandals" destroying the icons in England. If you are a protestant you might not want to read the introduction aloud.

Books read on particular days:
A. On December 13 we read St. Herman of Alaska by S.A. Smith
B. On December 24 we read What Men Live By by Leo Tolstoy
C. Sometime during Hanukah we read The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket
D. On December 27 which is the the 3rd Day of Christmas, which is St. Stephen's Day we read Stephen's Feast by Alice Englander
E. On the day we begin decorating the house we read The First Noel by Jan Pienkowski and then hank it from the ceiling.

These are two activity books. Your kids might like looking at them but they are really for parents to use. These are a good homeschooler resource.
A. The Season of Christmas by Constance Tarasar (Orthodox Church in America, Dept. of Religious Education, 1980)
B. Advent Arts and Christmas Crafts by Jeanne Heiberg (Paulist Press, 1995)

Beginning on the on the Sunday before the Nativity, when it is just too hard to wait anymore, we start reading aloud from this list and don't stop until after Theophany:
1. Pappa's Itchy Christmas by Angela Shelf Medaris
2. The Toys' Night Before Christmas by Susanna Ronchi
3. The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler's Sons by Ruth Sawyer (If your children are little get ready to hear "Schnitzle! Schnotzle! and Schnootzle!" yelled very loudly and very often.)
4. The Animal's Merry Christmas by Richard Scarry
5. Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
6. The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
7. Corgyville Christmas by Tasha Tudor
8. One Wintery Night by Ruth Bell Graham
9. Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt
10. A Christmas Treasury by Christian Birmingham (illus.)
11. The Nativity by Francesca Crespi (Its a Pop Up book and my 4 year old loved it last Christmas)
12. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck (There will be tears.)
13. The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola
14. A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg
15. One Christmas by Truman Capote
16. A Treasury of Old Fashioned Christmas Stories by Michele Slung
17. The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim (I don't like this one too much but my kids boys do.)
18. Wenceslas by Geraldine McCaughrean (Same story, Better illstrations, but worse writing than Stephens Feast.)
19. I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge (I can not recommend this book highly enough. So unbelieveably amazingly astoundingly good!!!!)
20. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
21.December by Eve Bunting

We also read the Christmas portiond of the Little House books, The Wind in the Willows, and The Keeping of Christmas at Brace Bridge Hall which is being published again after many decades as Old Christmas.

A new book that I am adding to the readings this year is O Holy Night: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry
There are a couple of books adult readers might enjoy (I did):
An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon.

1 comment:

GretchenJoanna said...

Thanks, Matt! You are kind to pass on this great list that is the fruit of loving labor over the years.