4 Books About Advent and Christmas for Children

Offerings from Magnificat, Kendra Tierney, Anthony DeStefano and Raymond Arroyo

Four featured Advent and Christmas books
Four featured Advent and Christmas books (photo: Register Staff)

In the secular world, Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes — wall hangings with windows to lift, boxes of chocolates to be eaten one at a time... but THIS! This is my personal favorite. 

Magnificat’s story book for children, The Little Lamb at the Manger, comes with a unique Advent calendar, a tri-fold cityscape of Bethlehem.

As the story goes, a happy little lamb named Cabrio knows Mary’s secret, that the Child Jesus is soon to be born. Each day during Advent, Cabrio leads children toward a greater understanding of the Christmas story. Each day there is a prayer to help prepare boys’ and girls’ hearts to welcome the coming Christ Child. They open the flap over one of the windows in the town, and Bethlehem grows brighter and brighter as Jesus’ birthday nears. And each day, your children can move the cut-out model of Cabrio the Lamb closer to the manger — a spiritually rich improvement on the trendy “Elf on the Shelf.”

Kendra Tierney’s contribution to children’s Advent preparation is O Come, Emmanuel: Advent Reflections on the Jesse Tree for Families. Each day’s reading features a reading from Scripture, a brief explanation that will help young children to understand God’s message for them, and a short prayer. The hardcover book is easy for little hands to hold, and the rich artwork by Peggy Pilapil-Lasa enhances the stories.

One concern that I had is — well, look! Advent is well underway, and you don’t have the book in hand yet! Tierney doesn’t see that as a problem. “Sometimes life happens and we miss a day,” she admits. “In that case we’ll probably just make it up by doing two the next day. If for some reason we got many days behind, I’d probably just jump ahead to the current day, hang up as many ornaments as we needed to catch up, and figure I’d try to get all of the readings in the next year.”

It’s not about being perfect, Tierney reminds us with a mother’s even temperament. It’s about spending time with family in prayer and scripture, and growing together in knowledge, understanding, faith and perfect holiness.

The Grumpy Old Ox. This picture book by Anthony DeStefano (with illustrations by Richard Cowdrey) offers a quick read and an important lesson. Watching as the grumpy, blind old ox is transformed by the Christ Child, young readers will understand that they, too, can change their attitude — and that caring for others can make an important difference in their lives.

EWTN news director and journalist Raymond Arroyo’s New York Times best-seller, The Spider Who Saved Christmas, is a favorite among Catholic parents. It recounts the legend of Nephila, a golden silk orb weaver, who summoned her spider friends and spun a web that covered the entrance to the cave where the newborn Jesus lay sleeping — thus saving the Holy Family from Herod’s soldiers.

Duccio’s ‘Pentecost’ (1308)

Pray the Pentecost Novena

The prayer recalls and invites Catholics to participate in the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles spent in prayer after Christ ascended into heaven.