The Book - Mary's First Christmas by Walter Wangerin Jr.
Oh, how I love this book! It is the most beautiful telling of the Christmas story I have found, both in its language and illustrations. The story unfolds over 4 chapters as Mary tells her little son Yeshi the tale of his birth. In the opening chapter, Mary begins her tale to comfort her son who has been injured by some boys throwing stones. She continues her story over many nights as his wound heals into a shining scar. This chapter format is perfect for reading to your preschoolers and older children a portion of the story each night.
The illustrations are incredible, revealing a realistic but beautiful world of ancient Israel. The story itself brings me to tears every time I try to read it aloud. Threaded throughout the traditional nativity story is the truth that Jesus came to fulfill his name: "He will save them from their sins." This telling includes moments that others leave out: Simeon's blessing and warning to Mary that a sword will pierce her soul; the arrival of the Magi when Jesus was a toddler and the meaning of their three gifts; and the murder of the little sons of Bethlehem. It emphasizes, gently but emphatically, that Jesus was born to die so that we might live. Just as Mary tells the child Jesus at the end:
"There is danger in the world, Yeshi, and hatred and sin, and when you grow up these things will hurt you... But when you grow up, you will be the one to heal the dangers and hatred and sin of the world. One day all the children will know you, Yeshi. They will hear your birthday story, and they will be happy, because you loved them, every one, according to the meaning of your name, Jesus: you loved them enough to save them from their sins."And that's the true Reason for the Season!