One of the books that I remember the most from my childhood was the Lion Children’s Bible. I’m not quite sure when it was given to me, but it was a constant from early childhood; the crinkle of the blue leathery binding with its gold letters smooth under little fingers, the silkiness of the midnight blue bookmark, and the slightly scary pictures that illustrated Daniel in the Lion’s Den.
It had a companion, the Lion’s Book of Bible Stories and Prayers, which inexplicably features what looks like a 1970’s sports day on both endpapers, enhanced by a train bookplate with my name and then address typed in carefully by Mum (as in, on a typewriter – yes, I’m that old) just inside the front cover.
And so it’s no surprise to me that of all the children’s bibles and books of stories that we’ve been given, it’s the Lion’s Storyteller Bible that is our favourite. It’s a favourite in the fullest sense of the word too; H and I enjoy reading it, Kitty loves to choose a couple of stories for bedtime, and Elma makes a beeline for its colourful pictures whenever she spots it on the floor.
It isn’t strictly a Christmas book, or at least it’s not just a Christmas book, but the whole collection of bible stories, including both The First Christmas and Epiphany, both of which are in popular rotation at the moment – along with the story of the sneaky snake of course, Kitty still loves her Adam and Eve stories.
It’s charm is that these are stories designed to be read outloud, and I can easily see why the Open the Book program (which provides Bible-story based assemblies to junior schools) uses it as their starting point for their dramas. The language isn’t oversimplified, but the stories are well told with a lovely flow, and as they’re only a couple of pages long they keep even Elma’s attention from start to finish. Kitty gets to choose two or three at bedtime and feels as if she’s getting a real treat.
And either I’ve grown up and learnt that there are scarier things around, or this version’s Daniel isn’t quite as frightening; the illustrations are rich with colour and detail, with all of the key characters and moments of each story hidden around the edge of the pages.
And now from a book that’s all about the words to a book with none!
Well, I was always going to have more Christmassy children’s book than there are Tuesdays in December so I’ve got two books for today. I can justify it, sort of, on the basis that I’m cheating slightly with both. The Storyteller Bible isn’t technically a Christmas book, and this, while a Christmas book, doesn’t belong to us – it’s a library book.
But a library book that has been in our house since the first Rhyme Time after the Christmas bookshelf was put up, and is unlikely to be returned until the New Year. I don’t feel in the least bit guilty at hogging it – the Library had ten copies.
It is of course, The Snowman.
The film has been a stalwart of Christmas since forever, and we loved and embraced The Snowman and the Snowdog last year. I think we all find the films so gentle and lovely and calming they are the perfect thing to snuggle up to watch when we need a bit of family time. But we don’t own the book, and I hadn’t seen it in a few years until we spotted it on the library shelf.
It’s not the exact same story as the film, and Father Christmas doesn’t make an appearance, but the friendship is there, and the comedy, all brought to life through those gorgeous pencil crayon drawings.
Kitty will sit with the book spread across her knees, turning the pages and murmuring to herself, but she’s even happier when H is home to sit and tell the story to her. I’ve tried myself but apparently I just can’t do it, it’s obviously a Daddy thing.
And as for my Elma, she fell in love with the Snowman the first time she watched it; her soft Snowy lights up her face every time she spots him; and so she’s just as happy to tuck up and listen as her sister.
And now it’s over to you again. If you’ve been reading anything that you love, please link up in the comments. And if you’re feeling a little stuck, and want a few ideas for a little something literary to go under the tree this year, you might like the What We’re Reading Booklist, featuring every book that anyone has ever suggested as part of What We’re Reading.