These are some of the discussions we had when reading this book:
Just a note before we start: the publishers list ages 4-8 for this book. My family love picture books and continue to learn truths from the simple words and powerful illustrations. There is no age limit to sitting down, enjoying a beautiful book with a powerful story – this is such a book. Please don’t limit your family by seeing this as a picture book for young kids.
“God loves light. He always has – it was the first thing he had ever made and it was very, very good.”Walking with God daily, like Adam and Eve did, was walking in the Light. When Adam and Eve sinned they lost that and they walked in darkness. God still loved them, and all their children, and I quote again, “He had a plan to bring his light back.”Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light….”
God saw Mary’s beautiful heart. An opportunity to discuss our hearts, how God sees the heart and how He continues to search over the land for a people who will answer the call.What is your heart going to be like this day, this week, this month, next year? What is God calling you for – it doesn’t have to be big stuff, like calling you to the mission field, or calling you to witness to your neighbour or pray for a sick person. God does call us to do that, He calls kids to do this too, but He also calls us to obey, to walk upright, to follow His commands. Are you ready to say, “Yes, Lord I will!”
The story explains very simply the confusion that Joseph felt when he was told of the baby – “He no longer wanted Mary to be his wife”. For the older student who knows this story well, they could investigate the cultural situation, how the marriage probably came about, and the social pressure Joseph would have been under. Understanding these things makes Mary and Joseph real people with real feelings.
Prophecy – Jesus coming fulfilled over 25 prophecies. One such prophecy in Isaiah is mentioned in the story, making it a good opportunity for older children to research these prophecies – both when they were uttered and the record of their fulfillment. For younger children it is important for them to know that God always had a plan – from the moment of the curse in Genesis, throughout the Bible such as in Isaiah and so forth.
Other people who are kind of in this story: Do you think the Shepherds would have been quiet about what they heard? I don’t think so! I think the townsfolk had something to think about that week. I wonder how many people kept these things hidden in their hearts like Mary did? How many people watched Jesus grow up with interest? Or did the good news they heard that night quickly disappear from their memories as they dwelt on the circumstances around them?
Herod: Check out who Herod really was in the whole scheme of governance in the Roman Empire. (This maybe a question that the older boy in your family can go and research)
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh – why these gifts? What were they used for? What do you think happened to these gifts?
Egypt – where is Egypt compared to Israel? Many children will know about ancient Egypt but what was happening there when Jesus was a little boy?
The heart of the story: Most importantly of all, our children need to recognize that this story, of Jesus coming as a baby isn’t just a nice story, another Bible Story, it is a story that they have to respond to – it is the beginning of the hope that they have of a personal relationship with this Jesus, God’s own Son.
This is a part of my series of lesson plan / discussion notes for picture books we read at Christmas time.