Are you ready . . . for Advent?

I wonder how you mark the waiting time of Advent.  Some people light a candle – the decorated kind, with the days marked on, to burn a little each day – and others make an Advent wreath of leaves or other materials. You can buy coloured candles from a church bookshop online (or they can be cheaper from a general candle supplier: try searching for ‘candle selection’).

Another way we can ‘get ready’ for Christmas is to settle down with a good book. Godly Play UK trainers have suggested some titles which they’ve enjoyed sharing with children during Advent. You might want to pass these on to the families you know, or provide some of them for people to look at in the ‘response’ part of a Godly Play session.

Here is the first selection, with more to come next week!

Sharing Advent stories - Part 1

It Begins in Bethlehem (Bible Society, 2020) is a nativity rhyme for Christmastime with pull out colouring pages. A fantastic gift for any family at just £2.  22 pages with every detail of the full story told with joy in rhyme and pictures. You can also watch it on YouTube narrated by Bob Hartman himself.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas 978-1858810119  Amazon £4.49

Richly lyrical and evocative, these boyhood Christmas recollections in a small Welsh town transport us into a bygone world of snow (‘shaken from whitewashed buckets down the sky…’), simplicity and vivid childhood imagination. Its warmth, mischief, and sheer poetic wonderfulness, provide a magical read for children of all ages.

Walking backwards to Christmas by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York

This book really does help us to look at Christmas in a different kind of way and discover new truths and insights into an almost too familiar story. Starting with Anna the prophetess in the temple and working back in reverse chronological order, we see and feel anew the wonders, horrors and joys of their experiences through imaginative first-person narratives. The book ends with the prophecies of Isaiah and revelation of Moses from the burning bush that darkness shall be scattered and light forever blaze.

Christmas Stories by Michael Morpurgo  978-1405268950  £10.79 amazon

Here is a book that will see you through the holidays, or perhaps through several Christmases. Five stories by Michael Morpurgo, all very different, but all with Christmas themes, gathered as one book. On Angel’s Wings is about the shepherds caught up in the nativity; The Best Christmas Present in the World is about the Christmas truce of 1914. And perhaps The Best of Times would make up, this year, for a lack of both nativity plays and pantos.

Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher  978-0857637710  £7.25

Refuge was published in 2015 and £5 from every copy sold goes to the charity War Child UK. In spare, yet evocative language, the donkey tells the story of the Holy Family’s quest for refuge and those who helped them. The illustrations, almost monochrome, but with touches of gold to evoke moments of glory, wonderfully complement the text. A book to read in a few minutes and to ponder for hours, even days.

All for the Newborn Baby by Phyllis Root and Nicola Bayley  978-0763600938  £4.99

A book for those who love the natural world, this simple lullaby is illustrated by the award- winning Nicola Bayley. With two verse lines to a page, each idea is interpreted by a delicate manuscript-style, yet modern image, reflecting the natural world. The end covers are testimony to the genius of a botanical illustrator.

The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim and Fabian Negrin  978-1841483641  £8,79

‘Ah, Nita-sita,’ said Mama, ‘there are no greater gifts than the ones you bring in your heart.’ A story from Mexico, in which Juanita, whose father has lost his job, wrestles with knowing how she will keep Christmas without money for toys, sweets and a gift for the Christ child at the midnight service. Yet she finds a gift as weeds from the grave yard blossom as she offers them. A book that might offer a helpful perspective amid so much economic distress this year.


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