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The Very First Christmas Paperback – August 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Concordia Publishing House (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758606168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758606167
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 9 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author and historian Paul Maier aims to "return the Christmas focus where it belongs"--on the story and spirit surrounding Jesus' birth. Thus, The Very First Christmas doesn't follow the prescribed children's Christmas-book themes--with fairy-tale winter settings in quaint, old European towns. Maier instead sets the story in the American West, where a curious 8-year-old boy named Christopher wants a "real" bedtime story. His mother then tells him the miraculous story of the Nativity. (Ages 4 to 8) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This informative gift book is much better than its introduction might lead readers to suspect; Maier lays out a traditional Christian apologetic approach, using tools such as archaeology and history to prove the trustworthiness of the Bible. In the chapters that follow, he analyzes the Nativity through the lenses of economics, law, literature, geography and even meteorology, claiming that this composite reveals the "unfamiliar story" of Christ's birth. Some readers may quibble that Maier bases his claims on a rather selective reading of the evidence, but most will enjoy the rich detail he offers about daily life in Palestine around the year 5 B.C.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
This book is about the birth of Jesus Christ and more.
H. Hess
This an excellent resource for families who want to teach their children the historical validity of the Nativity story.
Shanna A. Gonzalez
It is geared toward kids who really want to know the story, down to the details.
Tanya Dennis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful little book. It relates the Christmas story in a spiritual and historical context for children. It is a good introduction of the story of the birth of Jesus for children, since it explains a number of Biblical events in a way even a young child can understand their meaning. Nice illustrations, too.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Volkert Volkersz on December 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This Gold Medallion Book Award title (for excellence in Evangelical Christian literature) is easy to overlook, since it appears to be yet another illustrated account of the birth of Jesus. Instead, what we have here is a recognized historian writing a kid-friendly book explaining some of the historical context of the Nativity story by having a mother answer her inquisitive child's many questions.
As Christopher's mom reads from gospel of St. Luke, chapter 2, she responds to her eight-year old son's questions about Caesar Augustus, registering for the census, why Joseph was not the father of Jesus Christ, why God chose Mary to be Jesus' mother, how old she might have been, where she lived, the lineage of King David, why Christmas is celebrated on December 25, what the stable was like, why there wasn't any room at the inn, why the shepherds were terrified at the sight of the angel, and how St. Luke knew "all this stuff."
This book is highly recommended to Christians of all traditions, as well as to non-Christian families who may be curious about what's really behind the Christmas story. As the author states in his brief introduction, many "children's Christmas books are often long on fancy and short on fact." I would agree when he says, "these pages...return the Christmas focus to where it belongs." The gospel story is no fairy tale, and here Paul L. Maier places it within the context of history, so children like Chris in this story can learn "about real people and real things that really happened."
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully illustrated book explains many things about the biblical story of Christ's birth that can confuse children -- such as, why weren't Mary and Joseph married when she got pregnant, why were they going to Bethlehem, and why didn't they just stay in a hotel? I felt it wasa bit complicated for my 5 year old -- he will benefit from it more in the years to come. If you like this book you'll also love the author's book on Easter.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By whazzupdoc on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WARNING: Look carefully at the title listed above before ordering. Amazon is listing the same reviews for both Maier's "The First Christmas" and his children's book "The Very First Christmas." "The First Christmas" is NOT the children's book "The Very First Christmas" as suggested in most of the reviews and Amazon's own description. It is actually a book for adults. It is an interesting archaeological study of the story of Christmas, but it is NOT a children's book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ride in Indy on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As another reviewer noted, there are 2 First Christmas books by Paul Maier - "The Very First Christmas" which is for children, and "The First Christmas" which is for teens or adults. Unfortunately, Amazon combines the reviews for both, and the publisher's and editorial descriptions are confusing at best - publisher's description refers to the children's book (even for the "The First Christmas" adult book), and editorial description refers to the adult book (even for the "The Very First Christmas" children's book). And, the "Look inside the book" feature is not helpful either, as it depicts the "The First Christmas" adult book for both books. A very unfortunate mistake on Amazon's part. Or else the publisher was careless in the info they provided to Amazon.

Nevertheless, the books I've read by Paul Maier are very well written, informative, and illuminating. I would recommend this book - just be sure you are getting the particular version that you really want - kids or adults.

Update: upon actually receiving this book (hardcover edition), it is definitely NOT appropriate for young children. The text and storyline are too detailed for young (preschool or early elementary age) kids. It probably is most appropriate for kids around age 8 or older - which is different from what the "official" publisher/editor descriptions indicate.

The pictures are well done, so I could just "read" the book with my infant son and tell the story myself, or read the included Scripture portions (Luke 2 version) that are included on each 2-page spread. But I will probably not be giving this book to my son for Christmas as I had hoped.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H. Hess on December 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is about the birth of Jesus Christ and more. The book breaks apart each section of the story from the gospel of Luke. It's actually a story within a story of a mom teaching her son about the real meaning of Christmas. Your kids will learn about the naming of the months of July and August and the greek word for Carpenter, etc. It's a great book but for older kids. The illustrations are so life like. Well worth the money and it will be a book that can be read for years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Young Christopher is tired of fairytales, and wants his mother to begin reading real stories to him. With Christmas approaching, his mother comes to him with the Bible, to read him the story of the very first Christmas, as found in the Book of Luke. Together, they read the passage, and discuss many things.

This is a great book. The text of the story was simple enough for my 7-year-old son to understand, and I believe that his reading the story will have more impact than my reading it to him. The illustrations by Francisco Ordaz are absolute masterpieces, and add greatly to the impact of the story. I recommend this book 100%!
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