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As we come to the close of Advent and approach the celebration of Jesus' birth into the human family, I want to share with you four storybooks your family (children 5 and up) might enjoy. They each follow a young person living in the time of Jesus’ birth, through trials and adventures that help us reflect on God’s salvation and message for us.

Jotham’s Journey is the first in the series, but the four books can be read in any order.

10-year old Jotham rebels against his father’s wishes and runs off into the wilderness, setting off a series of dangerous adventures, facing thieves, kidnappers and killers. As he meets many allies along his search for his lost family, he comes to regret his disobedience and realize how important his family is to him. As you read the twists and turns of his journey, comments at the end of each chapter draw you into the similar journey of the People of God, who often deviated from their Father’s plan for them, but always trusted in their God’s steadfast protection. As Jotham and you approach Bethlehem, we realize how easy it can be to not notice the signs of God’s love all around us. See if you recognize Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Persian wise men, innkeepers and shepherds!

Bartholemew, Tabitha and Ishtar are characters who meet and befriend Jotham along his journey. Although we encounter each of them briefly in Jotham’s story, each has his or her own exciting challenges and adventures, and all use their wits and rely on God’s promise of a Messiah.

Save Amon’s Adventure for Lent, when the four children have grown, and begin to encounter the adult Jesus they met in Bethlehem so many years ago!

Mary McCarty is a native of Southern California and has managed the bookstore at the Jesuit Retreat Center for over 4 years.

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