While Sojourners readers likely wrestle with all that's good and ill in the Christmas season, we still want to buy gifts for the children in our lives. A good book is the surest way to find a present that is edifying, enduring, and pleasing.
How, though, do we successfully navigate the mass of titles, the overwhelming commercialism, and the inner doubts over judgment and choice? How can we emerge on the other side of Epiphany with sanity, pride, and family harmony still intact?
I won't claim to solve all your seasonal sorrows, but I have a few suggestions. Use the resources available to you: Find a well-stocked book shop with a helpful, knowledgeable staff; speak to parents; talk to teachers; go with your instincts. And most of all, listen to children.
If all of that is too much of a stretch, then trust me. I've read voraciously most of my life; my childhood memories are largely intact; and I used to be a nanny. Anyway, I read all these books so that I could make your Christmas less stressful by suggesting some for you.
THE 11TH Commandment: Wisdom From Our Children, from Jewish Lights Publishing, is a beautifully presented volume, written and illustrated by children from synagogues, churches, and religious camps and schools all over the United States. The children wrote and illustrated an 11th commandment, supplementing the 10 we've had ever since Moses hauled them down the flank of Mount Sinai. (The most popular entry with Sojourners staffers is "No bombing just for the heck of it.")
As you'd probably expect, this book is replete with accidental humor, touching sentiment, wisdom, and great pictures. The 11th Commandment is conveniently arranged thematically in "Living With..." sections, including Other People, Earth, Family, Ourselves, and God. It's a great book, fun for all the family. My only (very minor) concern is that this book might actually be aimed at young-at-heart adults.