25 Days – Book 13: What Is Christmas?

We are now officially halfway through the 25 Days of Christmas Books for 2015! While this makes me a bit stressed out as I still have so much to do in preparation for the holiday; I find a sweet, simple book like this one helps me take a deep breath and refocus myself and our family’s hurried schedule. My copy of this is a board book, which is proving helpful for my less-than-gentle younger daughter who loves to look through it multiple times a day. It contains all the aspects of Christmas she finds exciting: dogs, popcorn, Christmas trees, babies, Santa, candy canes, cookies, reindeer, ducks, donkeys, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Whew! Yes, it is all here in this very short, very sweet, rhyming message about the true celebration for Christmas. Here is What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams, illustrated by Amy Wummer, 2006.

I don’t often find myself appreciating overly didactic books like this one. While I value the message, the delivery isn’t always the most enticing or sincere. But, I actually like the simplicity and directness of this book. The question in the title carries throughout the book as each spread contains multiple questions for the meaning of Christmas. As I said in the opening, it really does do a very broad stroke over lots of very famous Christmasy things, wondering about each one’s relation to the purpose of Christmas.

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One of the reasons I like the book is the way it doesn’t criminalize all the other fun, beautiful things that we often participate in around Christmas. Gift and Santa are just fine to enjoy, as long as we keep the true meaning in place. And the book is very clear that the true meaning is the Nativity. While the language and imagery are definitely geared towards a younger audience, I actually think the message and the illustrations are captivating enough to come back to it no matter the child’s age. We all need a reminder what all this hustle and bustle is threatening to overshadow.

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The other thing I really like about this book is the illustrations and especially the diversity. While the kids on the cover are strictly white, a questionable decision for sure, there is a lot of variance in the children throughout the book. And, hooray for a not completely whitewashed Nativity scene! This is really becoming a pet-peeve of mine, especially around the holidays and prevalence of Nativity scenes, so I was excited to finally see some more ethnically accurate illustrations.

We are greatly enjoying this new addition to our holiday reading. I think it is a perfect level for my toddlers, and also for my wandering-prone heart. May we all take a moment to step back from the holiday rush and think clearly about the holiday.

Hope to see you tomorrow as we continue my 25 Days of Christmas Children’s Books countdown!

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