Thursday, December 13, 2012

Read Aloud Thursday :: Christmas Books I Sort of Like and Sort of Don't

It's time for another Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word!

I thought I'd take a second here and share some of the books we've been reading out of our Christmas book basket. ('Tis the season and all that!) Several years back Amy (of Hope is the Word) mentioned that she wrapped her Christmas books and her kids would then open a book a day to read. I decided that seemed like a right fine and dandy idea and decided to do the same for my kids. We've done it several years in a row now and I am not able to get away without wrapping them at this point. One of the highlights of our Christmas season is unwrapping our books so it would seem that Amy has changed the way we celebrate Christmas for all time.

Of course, every year I also like to add a new bok or two to the home collection, just to keep surprising them. Some are added via review copies but others I pick up as I see them. (Is it just me or is it becoming harder to find good Christmas titles with any decent meaning attached to them!?) One book that I picked up last week (courtesy of a gift certificate!) was The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids.

Now, I have to confess that I feel like this one is a little sacrilegious. Part of me is ok with it (because this is sort of what we're doing with our Story of the World studies, mentioned previously) and part of me is disturbed . . . but I can't quite verbalize why just yet. My hesitation comes, in part, from the fact that I once heard a sermon in which picture slides were used, featuring Monsieur Lego, to make the sermon point. I have to say that I was severely less-than-impressed by that rather theologically weak sermon and so I have a hard time reconciling Legos with scripture in my mind. Nevertheless, my oldest has really taken to this book. Surprise.

Apparently there is also a Lego Noah's Ark. I'm a little worried by the title of The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament though. (The Christmas Story sticks to the main facts so it's not altogether theologically unsound.)

Of course, we can't celebrate Christmas rightly around here without a Thomas title. I've talked about Thomas's Christmas Delivery in the past. Each year my resident train lover is delighted to hear about how Thomas is trying to get back to the shed in order to hang his stocking before St. Nick's arrival. Before he can rest for the night he has three special deliveries to make in order to prove what a Really Useful Engine he is. Every time I read this book I'm reminded that we need not do anything to earn Christ's love and affection. His gift of salvation and love does not originate with us. We do not earn our salvation. It is a gift! Thankfully. Gratefully!

Lastly . . .

A year or so ago I thoughtlessly bought Mater Saves Christmas both for my sons and for my nephew. I failed to think about the fact that I would be the one required to read this to my children over and over (and over) again. I really hate this book. The story is blah. Chick Hicks ("the bad guy car") has stolen all the gas and oil in the known universe (more or less) so that he will never lose a race to Lightning McQueen ever again! Because there is no gas, there is no way for the letters to Santa to be delivered in time for Christmas. Mater offers to take the remaining gasoline (supplied by Fillmore) and drive the letters to the North Pole, thus saving Christmas. The whole book just feels chaotic to me. The story doesn't flow very nicely and seems more of a marketing ploy than an effort to tell a decent story. I hate myself for buying it. Unfortunately my middle child really likes this book. "Let's read it AGAIN!" This may be the last Christmas that Mater saves in this household. Just sayin'. (Also, one thousand apologies go directly to my brother and sister-in-law if I have caused them unnecessary pain and anguish with this story.)

Gratefully we have a slew of books that I really DO love to read to my kids. Some titles I'm enjoying alongside them include:

Every year I try to cull the stack and oftentimes replace with better titles. I'm always looking for a good Christmas picture book to share so if you have one to recommend, please do so! I'd love to hear about it!


Stephanie said...

It just makes me laugh a little to think of you reading Mater saves Christmas. Hee. Based on all I know of you and your reading preferences and all. :) But it does sounds like something the boy here would love as well! :)

Barbara H. said...

I don't think I could stomach Mater very often, either. :-)

One of our boys' favorites when they were young was The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer.

Bluerose said...

Just this morning I saw The Brick Bible featured at Barnes and Noble's Facebook page. I'm like you, I would have my hesitations. Some people commenting were furious that it was an obvious attempt to be offensive. I looked through a FEW of the sample pages, but didn't see anything too offensive. Of course, they may have picked their sample pages with care. :) Like you, I can't quite place my finger on why I would still have hesitations, though.

I think I might be the only one who didn't like "The Little One". :P

Cassandra said...

If my brother was a Christian, he would LOVE the Lego book. He is obsessed with all things Lego. Maybe the reason it feels sacrilegious is because Legos are used for everything and anything that's trendy? They have Lego Star Wars, Harry Potter, Cars, LoTR, Monsters, Ninjas, and SpongeBob. (SpongeBob? Seriously?) That would be like telling the Christmas story with Hobbits. It's just not right. :P

Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker said...

I try to cull our collection each year as well. In a quest to find some beautiful and good honest-to-God CHRISTMAS stories, I've found a lot of really pretty duds :(.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Well, I'm happy to have changed your Christmas celebrations/traditions for all time! ;-) I think I'd feel similarly about the Lego and the Mater book, and Thomas would get old quickly to me, too. ;-). One of my girls' favorites is Arthur's Christmas by Marc Brown. Thankfully, I don't mind Arthur too much. I like the idea of culling from the collection each year. It has never occurred to the book hoarder in me to do that. ;-)

Renee said...

I know my kids would have loved the Brick Bible when they were younger but I too have some hesitation about it. Have you and your family read The Last Straw by Frederick H. Thury? It is a beautiful Christmas story and the illustrations are gorgeous!

Litterairy said...

I recommend Rebecca Caudill's A Certain Small Shepherd and Maud Hart Lovelace's The Trees Kneel at Christmas. Other favorites are Becky's Christmas by Tasha Tudor, Lois Lenski's Christmas Stories, The Story of Holly and Ivy (illustrated by Barbara Cooney, please!), Marguerite DeAngeli's The Lion in the Box, anything by Richard Scarry (Sweet Smell of Christmas, The Animals' Christmas, Christmas Mice, etc) and my dozen volumes of Christmas short stories.

Mikaila said...

I would have to read it again to pinpoint an age group (your youngest(s) might be too young) but I've always loved The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

Stephanie Kay said...

I agree about the LEGO book - just doesn't feel right. For me it's because the LEGOs distract from the story. You're busy thinking about "how'd they build that stable" or "I wonder where I could buy a wise man" instead of thinking about the actual story. We also have some duds I need to cull.

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