Family ministry (and ministry in general!) can be extremely chaotic during Advent. Churches squeeze in a lot of programs and activities, and ministry to children and families becomes a priority as visitors and friends attend. One of the “tricks up my sleeve” during Advent has been to rely on good picture books to rotate during the season. Here are five ways I have used picture books during Advent. At the end, I give you nine of my favorite books for this purpose! Enjoy, and stay sane this Advent!
Here are my Five Simple Ways to Use Picture Books During Advent for All Ages Ministry
- Use a picture book as the basis for a Christmas Pageant – Coming up with pageant ideas can be exhausting and time consuming. It’s hard to get people together for more than one rehearsal, and all of the moving parts become a big ball of stress. Make the pageant easy this year by using a picture book as the basis for a pageant. Have one or more narrators read the book and choose members in the congregation to act out the story. Easy peasy!
- Have a little Advent lending library. I posted about our lending library awhile back. Rotate in some Advent/Christmas books for the season to resource families with quality books they might choose to use at home during the season.
- Use picture books during the time for young disciples. If your church has a tree in the sanctuary, wrap up four books and put them under the tree. Have someone open one each week and then read it during the children’s message/time for young disciples/whatever you call it in your church!
- Set up an Advent Reading Nook! Here are some ideas for inspiration.
- Use a picture book before or during your cross generational events. Set up a big chair on a rug and have an older member read to younger ones. Let children drink cocoa and eat cookies while being read to. This type of activity is a perfect add on to a potluck or carol sing.
Want some inspiration for which picture books to use? Here are 9 favorites that I recommend. See the graphic at the top for cover images.
- How Many Miles to Bethlehem – Great illustrations, simple story. This one is going to be the basis for our Christmas Eve Service this year.
- Who is Coming to Our House? – Lots of animals in this simple story! Perfect opportunity to get people practicing their honking, squeaking, and baa-ing.
- Song of the Stars – This one is beloved by many colleagues and friends. Like the previous, it features a lot of animals. The illustrations are lovely.
- Legend of the Poinsettia – This one strays from the story of Jesus in the manger, but it is a delightful story about sacrifice and love.
- Nativity – Typical of Cynthia Rylant’s style, this one is minimalist and lovely, and directly quoted from KJV scripture.
- Silent Night – Similar to Nativity (above) this is simply the Silent Night lyrics with beautifully reinterpreted artwork.
- Humphrey’s First Christmas – Told from the perspective of a camel, this is a good one for those craving something different.
- Christmas Love Letters from God – This one has great potential for cross generational activities as well as simply reading the story. Maybe children would like to write a letter to God or the baby Jesus.
- ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas – This one also has some activities to go with it. Here’s a wonderful resource pack!