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Ellen Gable Hrkach shares five favorite spiritual books for Advent: a few for moms, and some for the whole family.

Advent is one of my favorite times, and it has nothing to do with all the pretty Christmas decorations in the stores and malls. Advent is the ideal time to catch up on spiritual reading. The following are some of my favorite Advent books.

Donkey Bells by Catherine Doherty

Synopsis: Discover how Christians celebrated Christmas before the days of television, shopping malls, and the Internet. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most expectant of holiday seasons is an ideal Advent book to be used every year.


Donkey Bells


My review: My favorite Advent book and one that I read every year at this time is a book called Donkey Bells. I enjoy reading this inspiring book curled up in a comfortable chair by the woodstove, a hot chocolate or apple cider beside me, Advent and Christmas music playing quietly in the background.

I especially appreciate the heartwarming stories (such as Donkey Bells) as Catherine Doherty was a captivating storyteller. Also included in this book are customs and traditions such as celebrating St. Nicholas Day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, The O’Antiphons, the blessing of the Christmas tree and Advent wreath, the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Feast of the Epiphany. Meditations including The Gurgle of a Baby and Looking into the Child’s Eyes are extraordinary and beautifully written.

This book provides an inspirational way for children, teens, and adults to prepare their hearts for Christmas. Available on Kindle and in paperback.


Advent and Christmas with Fulton Sheen

Synopsis: Beginning with the first day of Advent and continuing through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, these selections from the immortal pen of Fulton J. Sheen encourage readers to explore the essence and promise of the season.


Advent and Christmas with Fulton J Sheen


My review: This is a beautiful Advent devotional that focuses on quotes from Archbishop Fulton Sheen that are taken from his many published books. Editor Judy Bauer includes many quotes that will inspire the reader to grow in his/her prayer life, to embrace Advent, and to become more prepared to celebrate the arrival of the Savior. Each day contains a Scripture passage relating to the daily readings, a short paragraph from one of Sheen’s books, and a prayer written by Bauer. It only takes a few moments each day. This is an ideal book to use when lighting the Advent wreath each night. It’s available in paperback.


The Advent of Christ: Scripture Reflections to Prepare for Christmas by Edward Sri

Synopsis: Perhaps the Christmas story has become almost too familiar. A virgin giving birth. A child laid in a manger. Shepherds greeted by angels. The Christmas story has become so familiar that the profound, even shocking, nature of the incarnation might be overlooked. But what if we had never heard the story before?


Advent of Christ


My review: This is a day-by-day reflection that goes right to the Feast of the Epiphany with reflection questions for each day. What makes this one so unique is that Sri asks us to imagine ourselves in the world of Judaism in the first century. His reflections inspire us to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who first experienced the exceptional – yet seemingly normal – birth of the Christ child. How would we react to a young girl giving birth in a stable, surrounded by animals, feeding troughs and manure? Would we be surprised to learn that this was the birth of the Redeemer who would save all mankind? Excellent book.


Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family by Kathleen Basi

Synopsis: This is a treasure trove of exciting ideas that will enable your family to focus anew on preparing for the holy time of Advent and Christmas! With a fresh, lively set of suggestions that will attract young and old alike, Joy to the World will help lay the foundation for long-lasting family memories.


Joy to the world


My review: Joy to the World takes a three-point approach to the season: The Advent Calendar with daily activities, The Evening Ritual that incorporates the Advent Wreath and the Jesse tree, and The Good Deeds Manger. I especially love the Good Deeds Manger. Basi suggests that a family obtains a box and some straw, chopped paper, or Easter grass. When a good deed or something kind is done by the children, straw is added. When something mean is done, it is taken away. The idea is to have lots of straw for the baby Jesus.

The author writes, “The motto for Advent should be: ‘Be ready; be present; be waiting.’” This book helps children – and adults – to understand the meaning of Advent: to be ready, be present and be waiting.

This book has been around for more than ten years. If you have children between the ages of four and eighteen, this is the book for you. This is a great bargain at only 6.49 for the Kindle edition and 6.99 USD for the paperback.


Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families by Sarah Reinhard

Synopsis: Advent is a season almost forgotten by the secular world. With new toys and electronics available, why should we focus on this time of anticipation? Most everyone cannot wait for Christmas morning to arrive, but is it for the right reason?


Welcome Baby Jesus


My review: Each section of this book encompasses three different activities: Think, Pray and Act. Each Sunday has its own theme. The First Sunday of Advent and the week following is “Get Ready.” The Second Sunday and following week is “Repent.” The Third Sunday’s theme is “Love,” and the fourth Sunday, “Anticipate.” The Christmas season has its own theme:” Rejoice.” There are also stories and activities for the Feast of the Epiphany.

What sets this apart from other Advent preparation books is that it has reflections and activities for the entire family (parents included) so that both parent and child can prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

My kids loved this book when they were younger. A great bargain at .99 on Kindle and 3.50 (or less) in print.

Copyright 2021 Ellen Gable Hrkach
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