Showing posts with label Media for Kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media for Kids. Show all posts

Dec 3, 2012

Best Christ-Centered Christmas Picture Books

Song of the Stars: Imagine how nature might have reacted to Christ's birth and you have the essence of this book. Animals, plants, the wind, skies, sea, and more all celebrate Jesus until finally we see Bethlehem with shepherds and angels, then a little barn, then a baby surrounded by animals, then the baby held by his mother. "Our Rescuer!" Mary cries, and all "gazed in wonder at God's great gift...Heaven's Son sleeping under the stars that he made."

The Christmas Troll: A boy is angry with his parents for not letting him open one of his Christmas presents early and takes his little sister and runs off into a nearby forest. There, they meet a troll - a wonderful, sweet troll. He is a fantastic, unexpected gift - one they hadn't deserved, yet received all the same - and now the boy can't wait to tell everyone about it. This is a well layered story that will lead to discussions such as: Do people put God in a box? Is God more unexpected and wonderful than we think? Are God's greatest gifts the surprising ones?

Tiny Baby Jesus: "Tiny, tiny fingers touch a piece of hay./Tiny baby Jesus born in Bethlehem today. Now those very fingers,/grown so sure and strong-/Jesus is a carpenter,/working all day long." So this book goes, highlighting some aspect of Jesus at birth, then some aspect of the rest of his life - up until the miracle of his resurrection.

The Christmas List: Everyone keeps asking Emily to make a Christmas list of things she wants - but she's uncomfortable with the idea and not very excited about the holiday. Then she learns that God's love - and the action it requires - is the most important thing to put on a Christmas list.

The Three Trees: Three trees have great aspirations, but when they are cut down, they think there's no chance they will do anything great. However, the first is turned into a feeding trough that later holds baby Jesus. The second is turned into a boat from which Jesus later calms the water. The third becomes Jesus' cross. This beautiful story highlights the idea that God often uses us in ways we don't expect.

Berenstain Bears Get Ready for Christmas: This simple lift the flap book shows the bear family preparing the nativity scene for their home. They find various parts (baby Jesus, Mary, the shepherds, etc.) throughout the house (and under the flaps) and each one is explained.

My First Countdown to Christmas: Actually an advent devotional, suitable for toddlers through perhaps first grade. In addition to the devotionals, some crafts are suggested, as well as prayers.

Touch and Feel Christmas: A great first Christmas book, it tells the basic story of Jesus' birth with highly attractive collage illustrations that have touch and feel elements.

Away in a Manger: In this simple book are the lyrics to the song "Away in a Manger," accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. It's a great way to both cement the reason why we celebrate Christmas and teach your child a simple Christmas song.
 
When Mother Was 11 Foot 4: A beautifully written story of a boy whose mother love Christmas. But one year, Mother, now single, is working but not making much money. There may be no huge Christmas tree and abundance of gifts. Mother is defeated, but her children work to raise enough to buy a meager tree. They decorate it (including a little Sunday School project of Jesus in the manger) and when Mother walks in and sees it, the little woman suddenly feels 11 ft. 4. The children have learned the power of giving.

Pine Tree Parable: A farmer and his wife plant Christmas trees. Years pass and finally the trees are ready for selling. But one tree, the farmer's wife just can't part with; she puts a not for sale sign on it. Then a very needy family visits the tree farm. The only tree they can afford is pathetic. The little girl in the family hopefully asks for the beautiful, not for sale tree instead; the farmer's wife cannot say no. As the tree falls, she thinks, "Yes, it was a great sacrifice. but it brought even greater joy. Isn't that just like Christmas?"

Saint Nicholas: This attractive book explains the man behind the Santa legend, telling the most famous parts of his story. A man has daughters who cannot marry because they can't afford a dowry. Nicholas secretly drops the needed cash into their shoes, set before the fireplace at night. The legend of St. Nicholas - a man who serves God - begins.

Josie's Gift: Josie wants a gorgeous blue sweater for Christmas. But it's the Depression and Josie's father just died. Christmas, she thinks, is about everything she doesn't have. On Christmas Eve, Josie spots a package under the tree and secretly opens it; it's her sweater! Yet moments later, she feels just as empty as she was before opening the box. She walks outside, asking God for answers. She discovers a man and his wife huddled in the barn, with an infant in their arms. They need a warm place to sleep for the night. Josie tucks her blue sweater around the baby. “Christmas is not about what we want. It’s about what we have.” Josie heartfully thanks God for Jesus and for Christmas. Because Christmas, the author concludes, is about “what she had, deep down in her soul that only God could give.”

Legend of the Christmas Stocking: There are a number of books out there explaining Christmas symbols with a Christian slant, but The Legend of the Christmas Stocking is by far the best-written. It's the story of a boy who longs for a beautiful model ship for Christmas - but there isn't much money for presents. Then the boy hears a sermon explaining why we use Christmas stockings - and the he decides to sacrifice his own desires so he can give gifts to his mother and sisters.

Gift of the Christmas Cookie: It is the 1930s, in the heart of the Depression. To one boy, Christmas doesn't seem very appealing without his father (who is far away, working) or presents. His mother makes some Christmas cookies for the poor, explaining such cookies were originally used to tell the story of Jesus' birth. Still, the boy is not happy the cookies will go to others, instead of him. Yet when his mother offers him the biggest of the cookies, the boy gives it to a vagrant man...then tells him the story of Jesus' birth.

Waiting for Christmas: Is a story about waiting patiently for Christmas. In it, a young German boy learns Jesus had to wait two or three years for his gifts from the wise men. To help the waiting, his mother gives him a daily advent cookie. “Christmas would come, he knew. For now, he would just have to wait. But that was all right. Some things are worth waiting for.”

The Tale of Baboushka: Baboushka ("grandmother" in Russian) keeps a very tidy house, and when three visitors come to her door, she makes sure they have exactly the food, drink, and shelter they need. When they tell her they are traveling to meet a new king (Jesus) and ask her to join them, Baboushka says she will follow -  but first she will tidy her home. By the time she gets around to Jesus, the star guiding the way to him is gone, so she travels around giving gifts to children around the world, ever in search of the king.


Jun 22, 2012

Nature Documentaries with a Christian Point of View

If your child loves watching nature shows on television, but you're tired of how frequently evolution is mentioned, have I got a resource for you! Zondervan, the famous Bible publisher, has released a series of DVDs called Wilderness Discoveries. Each is an interesting nature show, sans evolution, which gives God credit for his creation. So far, Amazon.com and Christianbook.com only have the first three DVDs available, but more will soon be released.

We have watched all the DVDs as a family; my children (ages 3 and 6) love them, and my husband and I find them interesting, too. I highly recommend the series. In fact, I've added them to my Amazon store. (Be sure to check out my store for all kinds of excellent books, games, household supplies, and such.)

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Apr 4, 2012

Free Traditional Music (and Hymns) for Young Kids

Several years ago, I found this site offering free mp3 downloads of children's music. What a great find! Normally, I think it's ridiculously difficult to find decent children's music - songs that aren't scaled down versions of pop songs, or music that isn't performed by fourth rate artists. This site, however, offers music both my kids and I can enjoy.

My favorites are the offerings by Noelle Shearer and John Morgan - all free! Expect to find oldies but goodies like "A Bicyle Built for Two," "Animal Fair," and "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," as well as hymns and Christian songs like "Amazing Grace," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "Jesus' Love is Bubblin' Over," and more.

Dec 6, 2011

Children's CDs Worth Buying

My friend Liberty Speidel just mentioned how hard it is to come by good quality CDs of children's music. I couldn't agree more! So often, the recordings feature children singing in unison - off key and with little to no enunciation. Blegh. Who wants to expose their kids to rotten music?

For this reason, my children listen mostly to what I listen to. But we do have a handful of CDs of children's music that we also enjoy. If you have young children, consider giving them the gift of music.


Jesus Loves You. This personalized CD comes with your child's name inserted into the songs. Joyfully sung by adults, young children will enjoy learning songs about God - songs that will stick with them in adulthood. To see if your child's name is available, visit the maker's website.

Name Your Tune. The cover of the CD leaves a lot to be desired, but the recordings themselves are fun and performed by creative adults. Again, this is a personalized CD, so if your children have names that aren't common, before you place an order, you'll want to contact the maker to ask if his or her name is available.

Sunny Days Studios Kids Songs. If you're looking for a definitive collection of classic children's songs, this is the series for you. All the songs are sung by adults (in tune!).
LinkHymns for a Kid's Heart. Although I generally steer clear of CDs featuring young children singing in unison, I make an exception for this series of CDs. It's so difficult to find decent CDs of hymns, and these are peppered with a woman's voice, too, making them easier to understand. Each CD also comes with a beautifully printed book that tells the story behind the hymns - and offers the vocal line and lyrics, too. For more on this collection, check out my post from 2009. Amazon.com offers several of the CDs, as does Christianbook.com.

Oct 28, 2010

Positive, Healthy Media for Kids

By now every parent knows television, computers (except for homework), and video games are in the bad category as far as pediatricians are concerned. And while many parents struggle to limit their kid's media time, I also suggest we think in terms of offering them more positive media and entertainment resources.

For example, have you ever noticed that if you keep Christian music playing in the background throughout your day, your attitude is different than if you're playing the top 40 station? The same is true for your kids.

At our house, the kids only watch DVDs or listen to CDs we pick out for them. Period. And one of our favorite resources for media is Adventures in Odyssey. We have a few of their DVDs, but mostly we stick to the CDs, which are extremely well produced radio dramas. My five year old begs for these shows and we're thrilled because:

1. My husband and I agree listening engages the brain more than watching. When you listen to a radio drama, you must engage your imagination.

2. The Adventures in Odyssey radio programs are not only clean and gently teach traditional virtues, they are Christian, too.

I highly recommend them for every family, whether your kids are young like mine, or teenagers. Even my husband and I enjoy listening to these CDs with our kids. Here are some good places to start:

* The Truth Chronicles: 5 hours of entertaining radio dramas about absolute truth. Includes the true story of pilgrims
* Cause & Effect: A new release. 5 hours, with stories about social networking, replacing Christ with symbols and traditions, and more.
* Life Lessons: A series of 8 CDs on subjects such as respect, excellence, responsiblity, friendship, perserverence and more.

* You can also listen to Adventures in Odyssey free on the radio. Find a station here. Or, download podcasts.



Jan 6, 2010

Vintage Children's Records...FREE!


I have fond memories of using my own children's record player and listening to a wide variety of LPs. (Not only did they give me a great appreciation of good music and storytelling, they enhanced my imagination and taught me to listen well.) My favorites were classic stories, dramatized and including music. Sadly, I've had poor luck finding anything like this for my preschooler - and the few modern CDs I've purchased her have had such low-quality music I don't even let her listen to them.

But a few days ago, I discovered Kiddie Records Weekly. This website offers free downloads or streaming audio of a fantastic selection of vintage children's records, including Bible stories and classic tales like Cinderella, Peter and the Wolf, The Barber of Seville, Paul Bunyan, The Trojan Horse, Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss' Horton Hatches the Egg, Thumbelina, Uncle Remus' stories, Johnny Appleseed, and so much more - performed by the likes of Danny Kaye, Lionel Barrymore, Rosemary Clooney, Gene Autry, Claude Rains, Roy Rodgers, and many other talented performers of the past. They don't make them like this anymore!

And if you don't want to bother with downloading or streaming files, you can also purchase CDs. Check it out!

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Nov 3, 2009

Valuable Hymns

I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with praise songs - but I do think they cheat Christians of the rich words of hope, encouragement, and biblical truth found in traditional hymns. That's one reason I purchased the Hymns for a Kid's Heart books and CDs long before my daughter was old enough to enjoy them. Now that she's four years old, I decided it was time to use these beautiful books. We began a few weeks ago.

Each morning, after we read the children's Bible together, I pull out one of the two volumes of this book and read her a story. Each one is short - only two or three pages, with illustrations - but explains in an interesting, novel-like style a bit of the history behind a particular hymn.

Then we pop the CD that comes with each book into a player and listen to the hymn together. Most hymns are sung by children, which means it's sometimes difficult to understand every lyric, but for the most part, we don't have much trouble. I encourage my daughter to listen closely to the words, then sing along with the last stanza, if she desires. I also let her look at the sheet music included for each song, even though she's not a strong enough reader to follow the lyrics yet. (She's fascinated by music notation, and this encourages that interest.)

She loves this musical devotional, and it's giving her not just a more mature concept of faith, but a strong foundation of songs she can turn to during the ups and downs of life. Too, since so many hymns were written out of adversity, it helps her understand that loving and following God doesn't mean our lives will be easy.

Music is such an excellent way to teach children. They are naturally drawn to song, and it makes memorization of key concepts easier. Consider adding hymns to your daily life, whether by doing a hymn devotional as we do, or by listening to hymns during quiet times during the day, or adding hymns to your family worship time. I assure you, your whole family will be enriched.

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