Start a New Tradition with an Advent Series for Kids

By Melissa Batai

About six years ago, my family decided to start a new tradition with an Advent series for kids. We chose Arnold Ytreeide’s series of four books that take place in the period of Advent before Jesus is born. I started reading these books to my kids when they were 10, 6 and 4, and every year we read one, even now when they’re 16, 12, and 10. If you’re looking for a new tradition for your family, you can’t go wrong with these books.

About Arnold Ytreeide’s Advent Books

There are four books in this series:

Jotham’s Journey ,

Bartholomew’s Passage ,

Tabitha’s Travels , and

Ishtar’s Odyssey

You should start reading one of the books the first night of Advent. Ytreeide separates the story by days, so each day, you are to read a certain segment for that day, usually about four to six pages. Watch out, though, because each day’s reading tends to end in a cliff hanger, and your children will be begging for more!

The story culminates on Christmas Eve.

At the conclusion of each day’s reading, there is a Scripture verse and a paragraph or two reflection about the important things to consider in our relationship with God, especially at Christmas.

One nice feature of these stories is that they truly are non-denominational. A Catholic can read these stories as easily as a Protestant. They just tell the universal story of Jesus’ birth and the time surrounding it.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into these books, Sonlight has just released an Advent unit study that is centered around Jotham’s Journey.

The Stories Tie Together

If you read two or more of these books, you’ll notice that each character appears in other books. For instance, in Jotham’s Journey, Jotham meets Bartholomew. When you read Bartholomew’s Passage, you see his view of his encounters with Jotham.

Each of the main characters has a role in finding the newborn baby Jesus. Reading each of these books, one a year, is like watching the same play, but seeing it from different characters’ perspectives and journeys.

About Tabitha’s Travels

My girls, especially, were upset by the minor role that girls played in the first two books. But what can be said? The life of a girl back then was very different from a girl’s life now.

When we got to the third book in the series, Tabitha’s Travels, my girls were delighted. Tabitha is the daughter of a shepherd taking his family to his birthplace. Along the way, her father is arrested and Tabitha plays an important role in his release.

As a parent, I realize that a girl in the time of Jesus would not be as sassy as Tabitha. Nor would she be as adventurous or daring and able to freely move about as she does in this book. Still, my daughters loved it, so I put aside historical accuracy for the sake of the story.

A Word of Warning

These books can be violent. When I read Jotham’s Journey the first year, my four-year old was scared at some parts. In each story, the villain, Decha, is a significant part of the story and tries to harm the main character.

If your children are sensitive, you may want to wait to read these books until they’re older.

Final Thoughts

These four books have been an important part of our Advent for the last six years. We’ve now read through all four books and are cycling through them a second time. If you want to help your children understand the true meaning of Christmas and you want to start a family Advent tradition, I highly recommend this series.