A Christ-centered walk to the manger Print
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Monday, 21 September 2009 04:47 PM America/New_York
Latest title in 'Read and Learn' series helps families celebrate birth of Jesus

The latest offering from children's market consultant and best-selling author Mary Manz Simon's "Read and Learn" series channels a young child's anticipation into simple activities to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Countdown-to-ChristmasReleased this month by Little Shepherd Books, an imprint of Scholastic, My First Read and Learn Countdown to Christmas (978-0-545-16509-9, $9.99) offers families a Christ-centered walk to the manger. A brief devotional thought, Scripture selection, short prayer and fun activity are offered for each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, with the aim of helping families focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

The content for the 26-page board book, which is illustrated by Siobhan Harrison, is developmentally appropriate and written for children ages 3-8. Activity ideas include tying jingle bells onto shoes as a reminder that Christmas is coming and flicking a flashlight in a dark room while repeating the message of the angels, "Don't be afraid."

An ornament strip along each page helps a child visually track the days until Christmas, while colorful illustrations create visual appeal. To help a family move beyond the commercial clutter of Christmas, the birth of Christ is highlighted in a rhythmic verse repeated on every page: "I'm ready and I'm waiting to shout it's Christmas Day! It's almost Jesus' birthday, I'm counting down each day."

Although "home for the holidays" reflects a traditional value, the author believes that sentiment will have new meaning this year as parents thank God for helping them survive the international economic crisis. The book offers ideas to redirect the sometimes—uncontrolled anticipation of the holiday into meaningful gatherings.

"Research shows that parents are looking for ways to maximize their time and develop deeper relationships," said Simon.

Her new book "offers the opportunity in a fun, easy-to-use format for family members to connect with one another and with Jesus," she said. "It's also a helpful starting point for parents who have been wanting to try regular family devotions, but don't know how or where to start."

The first two books in the series are My First Read and Learn Favorite Bible Verses (978-0-545-02509-6) and My First Read and Learn Book of Prayers (978-0-439-90632-6).

For more information, visit www.scholastic.com. To order, call 800-242-7737.