Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2010
Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family by Kathleen M. Basi [Liguori Publications (July 1, 2010)] is a book of advent readings, activities, and rituals. Published by Liguori Publications, a Catholic publishing company comprised of a "community of religious priests, brothers, lay people, and contemplative nuns," Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family is an effort to "reclaim Advent... to reconcile the secular with the sacred."

My family is not Catholic, although my husband was raised and schooled within the Catholic church, and while at times Ms. Basi does lump Protestant denominations and secular culture together as one, the ideas she presents for reclaiming Advent are good, and can be easily used by families wanting to bring more of the true meaning of Christmas back into the season, Catholic or not. I particularly liked the ideas for the good deeds manger; the list of service, spiritual growth, and homebody ideas for Advent activities; and the simplified readings for instituting a Jesse tree tradition with young children.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts printed in this review are entirely my own. Special thanks to Rebecca Molen of Liguori Publications for sending me a review copy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2010
This book was a great addition to our Advent worship this year. It has short bible readings for each day along with suggestions on how to celebrate Advent and take back this season. The stories were simple enough for our 5 and 7-year old and short enough to hold our 3-year old's attention. Our 9-year old enjoyed reading them too and was not "bored" by the simplicity in any way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family has been on my (LONG!) list of books to buy and read so I was thrilled when I won it during one of RAnn's Christmas in September giveaways.

Every year when the second week in November comes, I start to think about Advent and Christmas (Like many of us). I resolve to make Advent the spiritual season it was meant to be and NOT to get caught up in the secular, materialistic celebration of the season. This resolve has been particularly paramount the last few years as Andrew has become more aware of Christmas.

Alas, most years I start strong but has the weeks pass I get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, and lose focus. I get harried and rushed and basically just try to survive the craziness. Then Christmas comes and I'm exhausted and wondering where the last few weeks went.

Hopefully, this year will be different since I will be taking a different approach and using this book. Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family is a small, but jam-packed, book that offers a selection of activities and suggestions for making Advent meaningful - and I can hardly wait to get started!

In this book, Kathleen reminds us of the "unique place Advent holds in the Christian calendar" - especially for us Catholics. BUT, she is is practical and shows us how to keep Advent in its place by showing us how to interject the Advent spirit into the many activities and obligations we have in preparing for Christmas. The result is the perfect marriage between the secular and spiritual aspects of the season!

Using traditional Advent activities, Kathleen outlines a daily plan that incorporates a morning and evening ritual, including a "good deeds" manger. The suggestions are simple; and yet, if we allow them, we may find ourselves deepening our relationship with the Lord - which is the purpose of Advent.

Besides the myriad of suggestions, there are two things I particularly appreciated about this book. First, is the reminder that in Advent we focus on BOTH of Christ's comings: His birth and His second coming at the end of the world. And second, is the explanation of the Jesse tree. I've heard of the Jesse Tree, but it wasn't a tradition in my family growing up so I never understood what it was about. Now I'm looking forward to starting this tradition in our family. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2010
One of the things I like best about having my little one in Catholic school is that she comes home and tells me how they celebrated a saint's feast day, or a Holy Day of Obligation, or Advent or Lent. Still, we all know that if it doesn't start at home it doesn't go very far. My older kids didn't go to Catholic school when they were little so I was always on the lookout for good child-friendly religious activities, especially to use during Advent and Lent.

Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family is a handy easy-to-use Advent guide aimed at parents of young children. Basically the author, Kathleen Basi suggests that families begin their Advent days by checking an Advent calendar, and then, at dinner, use an Advent Wreath and a Jesse Tree. She also recommends a manger for baby Jesus, a manager the kids fill with straw as they do good deeds. Basi includes several lists of activities that can be done during Advent, from caroling to attending daily mass to baking Christmas cookies.

While Basi herself admits that her ideas are not original, what she is "selling" is the plan, the organized way of approaching the days before Christmas so you can truly celebrate Advent rather than just Christmas Shopping Season. Personally, I can tell you that our family will be using her version of the Jesse Tree. We do it yearly, and while a Google search will give you any number of different sets of ornaments to make or color, what I always have trouble finding is a story to go with each that is short, understandable to young children, and faithful to the scripture. Kathleen's version is all of these.

I'd like to thank Kathleen Basi and First Wildcard for my complimentary review copy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
I am pleased with this "book" but be aware that it is very small-it is more of a pamphlet of basic guidelines than an actual book. I will update after advent with a more thorough review.
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In the first few pages of Joy to the World, author Kathleen Basi writes, "In this atmosphere filled with distractions, the idea of Advent as a season in its own right has been overwhelmed." This is a wonderful and informative Advent preparation book.

Our society has such an impatience for the arrival of Christmas that many stores and families begin celebrating in mid-November. By the time Christmas actually arrives, they are tired of celebrating and the tree and decorations are often taken down the day after Christmas. Kathleen Basi suggests that we need to "reclaim Advent" and use it as a time of preparation for Christmas as Advent was meant to do: "...that season of holy hush, of waiting, of light and anticipation, that season that helps make Christmas so special..."

The author shares ideas for celebrating this beautiful season: lighting an Advent wreath every day, using an Advent calendar, a Jesse Tree and a Good Deeds Manger. Also, each chapter has some form of meditation for children, either a scripture reflection or another age-appropriate reflection.

Basi admits that "none of the ideas in this book are new...what is new is the way we combine the traditions into a single month long liturgy of preparation."

While it's important to begin these traditions in early childhood, it's never too late to implement many of the activities Basi suggests.

I highly recommend this wonderful book which is ideal for preparing both children and adults during Advent.

Ellen Gable Hrkach
award-winning author
In Name Only
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I picked this up when I was checking out selections at my local Catholic bookstore a week or so ago.

"I don't really need another Advent resource," I thought, and I actually believed that, until I spent a few minutes with this book.

It is the total "You can do it! Even if you're Slacker Sarah!" resource. Basi recommends setting up a morning and an evening ritual for Advent. In the morning, she has a simple Advent calendar approach. In the evening, it's time for the Jesse Tree and the Advent wreath.

Before you go and run like the overwhelmed mini-me you are, let me just say this: I think I can do this. And if not all of it, then some of it, with ideas for the future.

This is the sort of Advent resource I'll be dog-earing and using later. There are a number of ideas and you could use them all (the Good Deeds Manger spells "mancub eating all the materials, even if they don't seem edible to normal people" to me, but maybe next year...) or you could do what I'm going to do and pick a few.

The writing is accessible and approachable (which you know I'm a big fan of) and I think this book is going on my "Advent Favorites" list already.
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on November 20, 2011
New in our faith, I have been wondering how to bridge "santa" and consmerism with the true meaning of Christmas. In reading the book, I have learned a number of things and now feel armed with a way to tackle this season with more meaning.

Especially helpful are suggestions for working in practices (baking cookies & taking to neighbors as "service", hanging lights, etc) that you do in the course of Christmas preparations and how to tie spiritual meaning to these things. I am looking forward to beginning a new tradition with our 3 year old in pulling out activities during advent to do together but also starting reading scripture that correlate with "ornaments" to adorn the Jesse Tree.
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on November 3, 2010
these activities corresponded with the sunday readings and are. this is a great resource not only for families, but also for teachers, catechists, and youth groups. This is one of those items that a school should send home with each of their families or a parish should send home to each of the parish families with young children.
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on December 19, 2014
tiny little book. Not what I expected. Also, written for the Catholic faith. I guess I didn't read the fine print. I was looking for a Christmas devotional for a protestant, Christian family.
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