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The stores are filled with toys, Santa is EVERYWHERE and children are asked daily, “What do you want for Christmas?” So how do we teach our children what Christmas is really all about?
As a parent, it can be difficult teaching our children about the true meaning of Christmas. Now, I am not speaking of the religious meaning, which is very important as well, but I am focusing on the importance of giving rather than receiving; the importance of giving back to the community and helping others in need.
It is so hard to focus the holiday on helping others in need rather than sitting down and making your own list for Santa. One of the best ways to introduce this important topic is through stories. Most young children love to sit down for story time so why not make it meaningful. There are so many holiday books out there that focus on helping others so why not make this a new part of your Christmas tradition.
Last year, I found a wonderful preschool level book that helps change the focus on getting to giving. I will highlight the important aspects of this book, as well as list some ideas on how to implement the values and ideas in real life.
Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bourgeois
Many you already know Franklin, a lovable turtle who has many adventures. The Franklin books often teach children important lessons and Franklin’s Christmas Gift is no exception. In this book, Franklin is preparing for his school toy drive; however, he becomes so distracted by all the holiday events that he forgets until the last minute to find a toy to donate. At first, he does not want to give away all his special toys, but then, after realizing that his toy may be the only gift a child may receive this Christmas, he makes it his mission to pick the best toy.
This is a very heartwarming and fun story that children will love and understand. It makes it easy to transition into a discussion about how some families do not have money to buy Christmas presents. It’s beautiful illustrations also help tell the story, and make children understand the joy donating toys can bring.
Here are some ideas to teach the true meaning of Christmas like Franklin did with your children:
- Donate to Toys for Tots. There are numerous locations all across New Jersey.
- Donate to your local toy drive.
- Donate a new or gently used toy to a homeless or battered women’s shelter.
- Donate toys to your local church or Salvation Army
- Create a giving tree. Find families in need and ask what they would like for Christmas. Place their wishes on a tree so people can choose a gift to buy for each family/child. For example, Johnny, age 4, wants a toy truck. Giving trees are perfect for corporations (big and small), school lobbies, doctor’s offices and local clubs.
- Donate toys to a local children’s hospital. So many children spend the holidays in a hospital bed, and it would be wonderful for them to open a present on Christmas morning like healthy children.
I hope your family will enjoy this book as much as we did, and please remember to help those in need this holiday season. For more ideas on helping others, check out our articles on volunteering in your community.
For your own copy of Franklin’s Christmas Gift
To learn about other great books check out a Story Time at your local library. We list Story Times in New Jersey on our Calendar of Events.