Thursday, September 25, 2014

B&H Publishing Review: My Christmas List Written By Amy Parker

I had the honor of reviewing My Christmas List written by Amy Parker for B and H Publishing: Every Word CountsChristmas is right around the corner! Can you believe it's only 3 months away? I am already reading Christmas books trying to decide which ones I will give as Christmas gifts and which ones I will use as part of my Christmas Book Tree Advent Countdown. This book will definitely be considered for our book tree countdown activity this year.  

The book developed after a baffling discussion Amy had with her friend, Frederick, living in Rwanda. She found out that day that people in Rwanda don’t make Christmas lists. They focus on giving rice to the needy and making church offerings. Her book is a great way to spread awareness of the needs of others. 

How do you celebrate Christmas? Have you ever thought about how it might be for children in other countries around the world? Have you discussed it with your children? This book may help you explain the needs of others to your children during the Christmas season. 

The hardcover children's book contains 28 pages with illustrations created by Daniel Fernandez which show familiar celebratory family traditions such as decorating the house with Christmas lights, watching a nativity play, eating a feast, singing Christmas carols, reading holiday stories, and helping others. This Christian rhyming picture book has a simple, clear message that I believe all children must and should hear at some point in their lives. The story focuses on a young boy as the narrator and main character who is preparing a Christmas list. However, his Christmas list may be different from those you typically would see at Christmas time. His letter is addressed to God instead of to Santa Claus which is one of the reasons why I appreciate this book. At the very beginning of the book, the boy states . . . 
"Dear God, this year I’m changing things–
Instead of toys and lots of stuff,
I want Christmas for the whole wide world,
Especially those without enough."

On each two-page spread, the main character asks God for items or things that will bless and change the world around him. His Christmas list is one that focuses on and emphasizes helping others especially those in need. The author mentions one or two countries per two-page spread. This is a great way for homeschool families to integrate geography into holiday lessons. Alyssa will locate the following places mentioned in the book on both a map and a globe. She will also write her own "Christmas List" letter to God. I hope that after reading this book she'll be encouraged to organize more service learning projects on her own. The following countries were mentioned:
  • Korea
  • Russia
  • India
  • Uganda
  • Guatemala
  • China
  • Zambia
  • Sudan
  • Middle East
The boy asks God to help others understand why God gave us Christmas day. This book reveals the true reason why we should celebrate Christmas. It states the importance of how Jesus was a Savior for Earth which began with His birth. 

The unnamed boy makes a commitment to do his part in making the world a better place by giving Christmas to everyone. His Christmas list isn’t a never-ending list of toys - his list comes straight from his heart. Watch the book trailer below if this sounds like a story you'd like to share with your children, 

What I Liked
One of my favorite parts of the book is the “Parent Connection“ Christmas list activity found at the back of the book which consists of a Bible verse to memorize (Matthew 25:40), a Scripture parable to read from the Bible (Luke 10: 25-37), and five reflective discussion questions. Then, your child has the opportunity to make a Christmas list focusing on at least five groups of people in need. After creating your list, you’ll pray for those individuals. I can think of many other extension activities for the holiday using this book. 

The book makes a point that we should all consider during the holiday season:

"As a kid, sometimes it can seem difficult to make a big difference, but watch for the people God sends your way. You may be surprised at how much of a difference those two little hands can make." 
Another book feature that I enjoyed was viewing the back and front inside covers of the book which contained photographs and captions indicating “Worldly Christmas List” suggestions given by others. The suggestions state a few of our favorite activities including Operation Christmas Child, Christmas Carols at Nursing Homes, Clothes for Families in Need, Homeless Bags, and Stockings for Soldiers. This book encourages not only helping those in need during Christmas but helping ALL year long.  

Lifeway $12.99
Amazon $11.69
Christianbook $9.99

Note: All prices are subject to change at any time.

I highly recommend My Christmas List to anyone that has children especially within the 4-8 age range. However, you may want to consider whether or not your child will be overly sensitive when reading about the needs of others around the world. 

This book will add more meaning to the Christmas holiday and season. I am always looking for high quality Christian books to read during the holidays and this book made our list. I plan on using this book as a tool at the end of November and throughout the month of December hoping to inspire and motivate my daughter to think about others in need as we partake in traditional service learning projects during the holiday season. I truly want her to focus on what she can do for others rather than her personal desires and wants. 

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the B and H Publishing Group Book Review Program in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sunflower Art Project

My daughter watched the Van Gogh Sunflowers art lesson on the Kindergarten Home Art Studio DVD which is currently available throughout the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. We bought the DVD at a discounted price. The Homeschool Buyers Co-op is FREE to join. Just click the previous link.

Alyssa (Age 6 1/2) followed the instructions and created this beautiful masterpiece for my sister. My sister and her husband love sunflowers. My sis will be visiting Texas soon - my daughter can't wait to surprise her . . . that is if she hasn't seen this post.

Art Supplies Needed:
Blue, Yellow, Green, and Brown Construction Paper
Plastic Cup
Red and Yellow Paint
Black Colored Pencil

By the way, Alyssa is participating in the Spelling You See "No Rules Day Photo Contest." She really wants to continue using this spelling program once she completes Americana. Please do us a favor and visit Spelling You See's Facebook Page to vote for her artwork. Thank you for your support! 

Disclaimer: I have used a personalized Homeschool Buyers Co-op referral link in this post for the co-op and for the Home Art Studio DVD's. If you purchase this product through my link, then I will earn 500 SmartPoints. If you join the co-op, I also receive SmartPoints. Thank you for your help supporting our homeschool!

I will link this post up at The Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop.