I’m excited to be teaming up with Christian Children’s Authors in a special 12 Days of Christmas Books Giveaway. The giveaway is their way of saying Merry Christmas and it’s your only chance to win a copy of GOODNIGHT, MANGER this holiday season, so I hope you’ll head on over for a peek at my post and all the others! I’ll make it easy for you. Here is the link.
One of my favorite Christmas memories is watching my daughter play with the Baby Jesus that was part of our Christmas nativity. All through December she’d carry him around the house saying things like, “Baby Jesus crying. It’s okay, Baby.” Then she’d gently feed him or rock him and sing a lullaby. Before listening to her tender play, I’d never thought of Baby Jesus as ever crying. Her sweet play inspired me to write “Goodnight, Manger”, a Christmas bedtime picture book that not only serves as a fun reminder that Jesus was once a baby who cried and felt everything we feel, but which also keeps Christ, rather than Santa, as the focus during the holiday season. Now, inspired by GOODNIGHT, MANGER, here are:
8 Nativity Activities to Spark Meaningful Conversations about Christmas with Preschoolers
1. Play “I Spy…an angel!” Identify the figures in the Christmas story using the nativity as your playground. After you “spy” each figure, ask simple questions like “Who was Mary?” or “What were the shepherds doing that night?”
2. Play “I Count… three sheep!” Preschoolers love counting. After each count, think about how everyone in the nativity was looking forward to meeting Baby Jesus. Ask them what they think about that.
3. Play “Where is Baby Jesus?” In this variation of hide and seek, take turns hiding Baby Jesus in the nativity (or beyond). Each time you find Him, marvel about how exciting it must have been to see God’s promise for a Savior fulfilled in the birth of a special baby – Jesus!
4. Re-enact the Nativity. Using Luke 2:1-20 as your guide, re-enact the Christmas story using the figurines. Add animal sounds and alleluias to bring the story to life. For extra fun, you can also retell your nativity-themed picture books (such as Goodnight, Manger, for example) using figurines. Be sure to always link back to the all important message that Jesus is the gift of Christmas.
5. Sing Carols. While holding the appropriate figurines, sing carols that relate to the nativity story. For example, pretend the angels are flying as you sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Have the wise men march as you sing “We Three Kings.” Place Baby Jesus in the manger as you sing “Away in a Manger,” etc.
6. Care for Baby Jesus. Just as my daughter did, let your child take care of Baby Jesus. Pretend to gently rock and feed him. Maybe even sing him a tender lullaby. Then be amazed together – that God loves us just like we love little babies. He cares for us and comforts us. His biggest gift ever? Sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.
7. Make your own nativity figurines. Little ones love anything hands on, so roll up your sleeves and make sheep, shepherds, angels and more using whatever materials you fancy. Play dough, felt, glue, paper, crayons and even blocks are all perfect materials for a fun afternoon of nativity building.
8. Go on a Nativity Hunt. Here’s a fun activity that will get you and your children outside on a crisp day. Walk around your neighborhood looking for nativity lawn scenes. Name the figures you see and celebrate! This also makes a good activity to keep children busy and engaged while running errands in the car.
A version of this post previously appeared on Noelle Kirchner’s amazing blog . Thank you, Noelle, for having me and for letting me share here!
Signed picture books make wonderful keepsake gifts for the little ones in your life. And now you can give signed copies of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, LOVE IS KIND, GOODNIGHT ARK or GOODNIGHT MANGER even if you can’t make it to a signing. Here’s how – and their are TWO options.
OPTION 1: I am excited to announce that this year once again, in response to requests from readers for signed copies, my local indie book store, The Town Book Store in Westfield, New Jersey, will again offer signed, personalized copies of my books for sale.
If this interests you, please call them to order the book or books you want. Be sure to explain that you would like to have them signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books. Readers can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.
I thought this was a nice way to make signed copies available and support a wonderful independent book store. Their number is: The Town Book Store (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at email@example.com.
OPTION 2: If you would prefer to order the books through your own local bookstore (which is wonderful too!), you can contact me via the contact tab (which is nestled under the About heading) and I can send you signed and personalized bookplates. You will need to send me a business sized SASE (stamped and self-addressed envelope) and the names you want inscribed, but we can figure that all out via email. It’s that easy!
Happy reading and gift giving!
Saturday November 24, 2018 1 – 3 pm. I’ll be reading my books and chatting with customers as part of Small Business Saturday at The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ.
Sunday December 2nd, 2018 2:00– 4:00. I’ll be reading LOVE IS KIND & signing all my books as part of Gingerbread Sunday at the Miller Cory House in Westfield, NJ.
Saturday December 8 2018 11- 1:00 pm. Join me for festive readings of all my books with puppets, then shop at the Cranford United Methodist Church’s Christmas Shoppe and Soup Festival. Note: The festival is open from 10 – 3pm.
Books available for purchase & signing at all events.
(Cash or check only December 2 & 8)
Looking for something fun to do with the kiddos this summer? How about joining me for one of these summertime author events. Meet my storytelling companions – Diva Delores and Fernando – and enjoy a special craft. And if you are vacationing on the Jersey shore the week of August 11, be sure to stop in at the Comfort Zone in Ocean Grove where I’ll be chatting with customers and signing ALL FOUR of my books including my newest LOVE IS KIND which releases with Zonderkidz August 7, 2018. BONUS: I’ll also be introducing my newest puppet companion – Little Owl – at the Comfort Zone. Please stop in at one of these events. I’d love to meet you!
Mark your calendars!
Something readers don’t often realize is that it’s highly unusual to actually meet your illustrator – especially when you live on different continents! That’s why I was thrilled last summer to have the delightful privilege of meeting Jane Chapman who illustrated both GOODNIGHT, ARK and GOODNIGHT, MANGER.
While were together enjoying this rare gift of meeting in person, we had the idea that it might be fun to sign a couple of books. So now, to kickoff the holiday season, I’m giving one away!
Before I share the details (below) I thought you might enjoy a few snaps of our lovely meeting last summer:
Finally, without further ado, here are the details for my GOODREADS GIVEAWAY!
Enter to win a very special copy of GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015,hardcover edition), signed by BOTH author Laura Sassi and New York Times best-selling illustrator Jane Chapman.
Story Summary: It’s bedtime for baby Jesus, but who knew a stable could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels singing, and three kings bearing gifts, it’s too noisy. Cuddle up as everyone tries working together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams.
Giveaway ends December 4th, so I can send you the book in time for Christmas. Click here to get to the GOODREADS GIVEAWAY page. And don’t forget to add GOODNIGHT, MANGER to your “Want to read” list.
Tell all your friends. Good luck!
My decision to use puppets at author visits began quite by chance. Since a pair of skunks play an important role in my first book, and figuring that some of my very youngest readers might not be familiar with the species, I thought having a pair of skunk puppets would be an engaging way to introduce the story. Quite honestly, the former teacher (and crowd control freak) in me, also thought skunk puppets might be a friendly way to help young audiences settle down before and during the reading since, as you know, skunks are notorious for making a big stink if they get startled.
Well, the skunks were such a great hit, that when my second book came out, I knew I wanted to pair that story with a book-specific puppet as well. Without too much trouble, thanks to the wonderful puppet designers at Folkmanis, I found the perfect companion — Rooster!
Rooster’s very loud which, quite frankly, is a big problem because Goodnight, Manger is a bedtime story and bedtime is supposed to be quiet. So together, the kids and I decide that we’ll show Rooster what “quiet” looks and sounds like. After we’ve read the story, we see if we can teach him do a quiet cock-a-doodle-doo. If he learns well, we invite him to join as we sing a lullaby to Baby Jesus. And once again, like those stinky skunks, Rooster, too, has been a big hit.
In fact, these darling puppets have been so popular at author events, I’ve decided that each and every picture book that I write must be paired with at least one puppet. So far I’ve been lucky and have found perfect matches. Now, with more books in the publication pipeline, I am again in the market for puppets. Without revealing too much…. I need an adorable mouse, an owl, and if possible, a seal! Any leads? =)
Happy author visits, all! And perhaps you, too, will decide to bring a puppet along to your next author visit.
There’s more to a picture book than the thirty-two colorful pages it contains. There’s also the story behind the creation of that picture book. What inspired the author to write it? And what does the author hope readers will take away from the story? Today, as guest blogger at Heart of Deborah, I’m sharing a special Christmas memory and how it inspired me to write GOODNIGHT, MANGER. So, please grab a cup of coffee, or tea as I prefer, and head on over! I’ll make it easy. Press here.
It was such a treat to be on the set of KidLit TV last month sharing in their wonderful mission “to create fun new ways to reinforce an appreciation of reading that children will carry with them for the rest of their lives”. Here are a couple of snapshots of that special day. Each captures what I think is the the amazing gift of KidLit TV to celebrate the magic of reading through all their taped and live programs. It was an afternoon to treasure.
And now I can finally spill the beans! GOODNIGHT, MANGER is featured on KidLit TV’s delightful READ OUT LOUD program. Thank you for having me, Julie Gribble and team. Here is the link to the episode. Enjoy!