A Christmas Classic

A Certain Small Shepherd written by Rebecca Caudill and illustrated by William Pène Du Bois is on my list of must-have Christmas books. Originally published in 1965, this story is timeless. The book is filled with lyrical language and is a holiday treat for the entire family. Themes of love, patience, and understanding flow through the story.

The setting takes place in a rural area from a time long past. A young boy, Jamie, who was born unable to speak, his father and two older sisters are the central characters. With his father’s encouragement, Jamie proves to be a quick learner, but others in the community have their doubts about his abilities as they listen to his incoherent grunts. Frustration, acted out in the form of tantrums, often overwhelms Jamie as he tries to communicate. When his teacher assigns him the part of a shepherd for the Christmas Eve play, she tells him and the other student actors to believe they are those characters; Jamie takes his role to heart. Unfortunately, a Christmas Eve snowstorm cancels the play and Jamie is inconsolable. Then two strangers show up at their door, and his father offers to help them find a place to stay.  As Jamie waits for his father to return home, he is overcome with the feeling that this night is not like any other. What happens next is a special Christmas miracle. Be prepared for some damp eyes as you finish the story.       

This book provides ample opportunities to discuss disabilities and acceptance of those who are different from us. A Certain Small Shepherd is certain to warm your heart in a big way!

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