Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Before and After Christmas

Before and After Christmas is a treasure trove of educational Christmas fun! Written by Debbie Trafton O'Neal this book offers something for every day of Advent through Epiphany. That's the entire month of December and beyond.

The content is broken into daily sections. With the exception of December 25th, these are not dated, but rather numbered, so that readers may skip around if they choose. Each "day" includes a Bible passage (one to three verses, all quoted in the New International Version), a reading and an activity.

The readings cover a multitude of topics associated with Christmas: legends, traditions, signs and symbols, historical accounts and international customs. The author crosses denominational boundaries by providing stories from Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic tradition.

The activities are always related to the reading. These range from crafts and recipes to songs and service projects. Each activity encourages family interaction. It also prompts readers to internalize the story with personal application.

David LaRochelle provided the illustrations. Simple watercolors embellish stories and offer diagrams for various activities. As a bonus the book includes two punch-out ornaments that readers may hang on their tree or in a window.

What I Like: This is a great book packed with information and ideas! I like that most of the crafts and activities may be done with items already found in most homes. No special shopping trips required. I like the inclusion of Scripture with each "day." The author includes fascinating, lesser-known stories. I like that she makes clear distinctions between traditions, legends and biblical facts. Children can quickly become confused when hearing so many stories. They can learn a lot from these stories, and it's important that they know which are true and which are just stories.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 5-10

Publisher Info: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2001; ISBN: 0806641568; Paperback; $12.99

Buy it at for $10.39!

Special Info: See our reviews of other books by this author.

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