During this season of Advent, I asked several of our previous writers to share some of their favorite Christmas books either from childhood or now! Elizabeth Boulware Landes, a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary who wrote a quarter of Lectionary Links, starts us off with one of her favorites.
Name of Book: The First Noel: A Holiday Pop-up Book
Author/Illustrator: Pat Paris
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers (October 1998)
Growing up I was always excited when the Christmas boxes would come down from the attic because that meant the Christmas books were out. My brothers and I had two pop-up books that we would read all the time. We read them so much that one of them is barely holding together. I am looking forward to the day that I can share these books with my children. One of these books is The First Noel. It is a beautiful illustration of the first verse of this well-known and well-loved Christmas hymn. While the words are familiar, the illustrations are what make the book worth reading. The background of each page is a vivid color while the scenes of the text dance before your eyes as paper pop-ups in white and gold. The simplicity of the text and illustrations allow for a new hearing and deeper reflection of the Christmas story. It is easy to forget that Christmas extends to Epiphany because life calms down during the days following Christmas, and using this book the Sunday after Christmas in worship would help us acknowledge the sustained excitement felt the world round immediately following the birth of Jesus. It brings to life the elation brought to so many, and the journeys taken to meet the newborn king.
(Ed. Note: Since this book is out of print, it could be hard to find. The book link above shows some places you can buy used copies. We also love ALibris and AbeBooks as good sources of out of print books.
And since Elizabeth has pointed out a book that uses a unique form of paper manipulation as illustration, we’d like to recommend another lovely title that uses a paper cutting technique to illustrate the Christmas story. The First Noel: A Christmas Carousel opens up into the shape of a star, with each panel telling a portion of the Christmas story through unique paper cuts. You can see a picture of this book opened on the Smithsonian Libraries’ Flickr Photostream.)