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    Books & Reading, Other Thoughts

    The Amazing Advent Resource Roundup

    November 7, 2017 by Brandy Vencel

    It’s almost that time of year again! It’s time for me to remind you not to be the White Witch! Besides, who doesn’t love the Advent and Christmas seasons?

    In our family, our Advent “lessons” (or devotions or studies or whatever you’d call them) are done twice per day — once in the morning during Circle Time, and once in the evening (usually following dinner) with my husband.

    I think of Advent “lessons” (ugh I wish I could find a better word) as formal preparation for Christmas. So, we read (especially our Bibles) and listen and sing. These three components prepare our hearts for the season.

    One of the things I love about incorporating Advent into our normal school day via Circle Time is that it lends a bit of festivity while we still accomplish our normal lessons.

    I often buy a new Advent reader or other resources each year, so needless to say I’ve ended up with quite the collection. Here’s a list of my favorites … there ought to be something for everyone!

    I’ve divided this post up into three major sections. The first is a collection of various books we’ve used over the years. The second is a list of resources related to Handel’s Messiah. The third are digital resources — things you can print or use with a Kindle, etc. Each of these sections is done in alphabetical order, so please don’t ascribe any other significance to the order.



    Behold the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey

    Behold the Lamb of God is our selection for this year, so I can’t yet give you a review. With that said, it already arrived. I flipped through it, and I have high hopes!

    The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

    This is a different sort of book, and I find it’s a hit with older children, especially junior high and up. The fictional account of a magic Advent calendar, there’s a chapter for each day of Advent leading up to Christmas that takes you backwards through Church history all the way to Christ in the manger.

    The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean

    This book is wonderful, especially for small children. You can even make some ornaments and hang them on a homemade Jesse Tree! While Jesse Trees are for all ages, preschoolers and younger elementary students really love them.

    Jesus, Light of the World: Praying the Scriptures through Advent by Candace Crabtree

    I used this one year when I decided I wanted to have more of a prayer focus for Advent. This worked beautifully, and I felt like it was simple enough for younger elementary students.

    Handel’s Messiah Resources

    Advent Morning Time Plans

    This is three weeks of Morning Time (I call it Circle Time — same thing) plans, loosely organized around Handel’s Messiah. This set has it all: poetry, fine arts, nature study, good books, and so much more, prepared for you with your choice of a grid or loop schedule to follow.

    Cindy Rollins’ Messiah plans

    These are available free online and they are wonderful. Couple them with this CD and you are set to go. One question I’ve gotten is why I would use anything else when this is free? The answer is because I wanted something with more than only Handel and Scripture. But sometimes less is more, so choose what’s best for your family!

    Hallelujah: A Journey Through Handel’s Messiah edited by Cindy Rollins

    This is what I bought for Advent this year. It sounds like it’s based on Cindy’s original plans, but it’s now so much more. I especially look forward to seeing what was added by Greg Wilbur and Lynn Bruce! The hard copy is sold out, so I’ve linked to the Kindle version on Amazon. I believe you can use this with the above CD.

    The Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader by Payne and L’Enzo

    This book is only available used, so you need to beware: if the copy you buy doesn’t come with the CD, the study won’t work very well. We’ve done this book twice, and it was great both times.

    Digital Resources

    Christmas Morning Time Plans

    These plans are FREE from my friend Pam Barnhill! This is three weeks of Morning Time (I call it Circle Time — same thing) plans, loosely organized around Tchaikovsky’s magical Nutcracker music. In case you are wondering: yes, these are still Christian plans! This is not a secularized Christmas, it’s just an enjoyment of a wonderful Christian tradition we have because of Tchaikovsky’s amazing work. This set has it all: poetry, fine arts, nature study, good books, and so much more, prepared for you with your choice of a grid or loop schedule to follow.

    DecemberTerm Plans

    For a long time, I posted my DecemberTerm plans here on Afterthoughts each year. I don’t know why I stopped doing it. Anyhow, all the old plans are still in the archives. A number of readers printed these and used them for their own Advent Circle Times.

    Sing a Song of Christmas

    This is the list of Christmas songs and poems we’ve learned over the years as a family. I try to update it each time we learn something new. If you’re searching for Christmas memory work, this is for you!

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  • Reply Don't be the White Witch (Thoughts on Advent and Christmas Traditions) | Afterthoughts December 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    […] Click here for other Advent resources. […]

  • Reply Rebecca November 26, 2018 at 10:28 am

    This year I’m trying Mystery of the Magi, the Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men and All Creation Waits for advent morning time and then Jesse tree at night. I love advent! The dark evenings with candles and a roaring fire. I will try not to be the white witch but please remind us again!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 26, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Ooh! The Magi one sounds interesting! I’ll have to look it up. 🙂

  • Reply Tina November 20, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I am wondering how you enjoyed Behold the Lamb of God? Do you think it could be a family read for little ones or is there a suggested age range?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 20, 2018 at 10:21 am

      We really liked it — and we used it as a read aloud! It was a retelling of the basic Gospel stories in narrative, so even though my youngest was 9 when we did it, I think it’d work for a crowd younger than that. 🙂

      • Reply Tina November 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm

        Thanks Brandy! I am just now seeing your response. That’s great to hear as I was hoping it would be enjoyable with even the younger crowd. Would love to keep seeing all of your Advent resources! 🙂

  • Reply Mariana November 19, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Just what I needed 🙂 Thanks Brandy!

  • Reply Amanda R. in Louisville November 18, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I’ve been reading Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas for a few years every advent. It’s edited by Nancy Guthrie. I’m excited to maybe try Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room with my kiddos this year. I just discovered it this morning, and yay for Amazon rabbit-trails!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 18, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Ooh! I haven’t heard of that one. I’ll have to check it out! ♥

    • Reply Amanda R. in Louisville November 18, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Giggling here because after I responded, I started reading your old DecemberTerm posts… and you listed Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room. What did you think of it, Brandy?

      • Reply Brandy Vencel November 18, 2017 at 1:14 pm

        Ha. Yes, it was that other title you mentioned that I hadn’t heard of before. I don’t really remember it, but my husband (he led up through that one) said it was “fine.” It wasn’t one of his faves, but there wasn’t anything wrong with it. 🙂

  • Reply Toni November 8, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    A simple poem that I love is “Christmas Day and Every Day” by George MacDonald – so good 🙂

  • Reply Carol November 8, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I’m thinking of using Gaarder’s The Christmas Mystery this year. I’ve had it on the shelf for some time but have never got around to using it. A few years ago we went through Handel’s Messiah over Advent using Cindy’s Messiah plans that you linked to – that was great, as was the live local performance the next year.
    Last year I read aloud ‘The Story of the Other Wise Man’ by Henry Van Dyke – oh my! I got so emotional during this!! Just beautiful.
    I’ve just found a new book published this year & it’s lovely: Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent & Christmas. This time of the year is really hectic over here as it’s our year end for everything – school, work etc & I have to keep things simple or we don’t get them done!

  • Reply Liz November 8, 2017 at 10:09 am

    We have used the “Behold the Lamb” advent book for several years. It is excellent! Andrew Peterson also has a musical album that is fabulous and can be a companion for the book.

  • Reply Mama Rachael November 7, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Thank you! I struggle to do these kinds of things well, and I’m working to get myself organized for them. This year, I might have it!

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