About the Holiday
Christmas is anticipated all year round for the joy of giving, the fun of receiving, and the message of hope the holiday gives. Honoring the birth of Jesus, it is a religious observation celebrated with hymns, special services, prayers, and remembrance of others. Incorporating long-held traditions from around the world, the holiday also welcomes Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Papá Noel, Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost” in Russian), Julenissen (“Christmas Gnome” in Norway), and many other names, who brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve. The day inspires family dinners, home baking, parties with friends, and togetherness.
Christmas in the Barn
Written by Margaret Wise Brown | Illustrated by Anna Dewdney
“In a big warm barn in an ancient field / The oxen lowed, the donkey squealed, / The horses stomped, the cattle signed, / And quietly the daylight died / In the sunset of the west.” As the animals in the barn gathered for a meal of hay in the waning light, a star shining brighter than all the others rose in the sky. A couple and their donkey approach the barn, led there by the innkeeper who has no more rooms to give.
Welcomed by the farmyard animals, “…they were all safe and warm / All together in that ancient barn. / When hail—the first wail of a newborn babe reached the night / Where one great star was burning bright….” Shepherds tending their flocks come to watch the baby sleeping, and three wise men from far away travel to give him precious gifts. “What child is this who is born here / Where the oxen stomp and peer, / Away in a manger, no crib for his bed / What child is this who lays down his sweet head?”
With the dawning Christmas Day, the wise men rejoice while the special child still sleeps watched over by his mother and father, the sheep and the goats, the ox and the dog, the cat and the doves. “And there they were / All safe and warm / All together / In that ancient barn.”
From the first line of Christmas in the Barn, readers will delight in this Margaret Wise Brown picture book for little ones. Her distinctive rhythm and rhyme scheme brings the story of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus close to the heart of listeners. Wise Brown describes the events of that first Christmas Eve night and dawning Christmas day with simple, lilting sentences that emphasize the tenderness and togetherness in that “ancient barn.” Children will respond to Wise Brown’s gentle animals and the recognition of lines from familiar carols. The openness of the text allows for personal discussion of the story, making this a wonderful choice that will become a favorite with young—and even older—children.
Originally published in 1952, Christmas in the Barn is given a new and stunning look by Anna Dewdney. Her mixed-media illustrations glow with the mystery and splendor of the story. As the couple travels to the little inn, they are portrayed in silhouette, tiny against the vast peach-colored desert. The animals eat their dinner, unaware of what will soon happen in their home. Their sweet faces welcome the two people to share their space, and when the baby is born, the midnight blue sky lightens with the onset of the guiding star. Dewdney’s depictions of the barn’s interior focuses on the newborn baby, while the reverence shown him are moving and beautifully portrayed.
Christmas in the Barn is sure to become an often-read Christmas tradition, and would make an excellent selection for holiday collections.
Ages 3 – 8
HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062379863
Christmas Day Activity
Christmas Tree Coloring Page
Brightly wrapped presents under a pine tree decorated with traditional ornaments is a favorite sight at Christmas! Grab some pencils or crayons and color this printable Christmas Tree Coloring Page!
Picture Book Review