Aged around 5 Bill asked to go to church because he wanted to 'see what it was like'. I took him with me to the one across the road to their Festival of Nine lessons and Carols. About 10 minutes in he lean't across to me and whispered to me in a serious tone 'I wondered what it was like and now I know'. I asked him if he wanted to leave quietly but he said no. He was very pleased to get given a candle in an orange for his perseverance. We both enjoyed the experience but he has never asked to repeat it.
I was brought up more churchy with weekly trips to Sunday School to colour in pictures of Jesus and baskets of fish. Although I never chose to be confirmed it remains a part of my cultural heritage and in that spirit it is important to me that my children grow up with some sort of understanding of the stories of the Bible and the spiritual calendar of the year. They'll make their own choices in due course.
Apart from anything else they ARE pretty good stories, with a satisfying and unusual amount of violence and absolutism for small boy tastes. I remember Bill coming across the story of Adam and Eve for the first time and just boggling and boggling- "They were really never allowed back Mum? what NEVER??"
In the same spirit the story of the Nativity is mainly fascinating to them because of King Herod; a bad guy to trump any of their Marvel or DC villains. We've got a few different nativity books around.
The first; 'The Very First Christmas' by Louie Stowell, illustrated by Elena Temporin is a tender and sweet (and Herod-free) retelling of Baby Jesus' arrival and his parade of visitors with unusual gifts. I like the simplicity of the text and the warmth and love that radiates from the illustrations.
'The Very First Christmas' by Louie Stowell, illustrated by Elena Temporin, pub. Usborne
'The First Christmas' illustrated by Jan Pienkowski, pub Puffin
'The Story of Christmas: Story Book set and advent calendar' story retold by Mary Packard, illus. Carolyn Croll pub Workman isbn 978-0-7611-5250-7