I thought it was worth revisiting this year and sharing a short review for those of you who are unfamiliar with the series. These books are highly worth the purchase! I only recommend products and purchases to my readers that I believe in wholeheartely, and these are at the top of my “all-time-favorite-children’s-books” list.
A few years ago, my friend’s family came over for dinner at the end of November. She gave me an early Christmas present that turned out to be one of my family’s most anticipated traditions of the year!
She gave me the book, Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide. It is part of a three book series which also includes Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels. Each of these books is an Advent storybook, so they are intended to be read each day for the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Read one book each year, and you will have three year’s worth of Advent stories.
The first year, we read Jotham’s Journey, with our children every day either after lunch time, or before bed time. I have never seen my kids so excited about a book. Every chapter is so intense, it’s almost impossible to set down without peeking to see what happens next. I homeschool my children, and we often read books aloud after lunch, but I honestly never had my children beg me to read the next chapter (or chapters!) of a book the way they did with this!
Jotham’s Journey is the story of a shepherd boy who becomes separated from his family and follows his journey to find them. As he travels, he encounters theives, kidnappers, and a number of popular Biblical figures involved with the story of the birth of Christ. Jotham is on more of a journey that he ever realized. It is action-packed, suspenseful, and intense.
It is recommended for ages 4-8, but my personal opinion is that the minimum age should be 5 or 6. On the other hand, my 12 year old still finds the stories hard to resist and is really looking forward to the next book. It’s hard to put an age cap on the books because even my hubby and I enjoyed reading them with our children, but probably the best age range in my opinion would be 6-16.
I was so thrilled about it and enjoyed the book so much myself, I got the next two in the series. Last year, we read Bartholomew’s Passage and loved it just as much. There were some surprises we enjoyed that tied into the first book, so that was fun. This year, we will be reading Tabitha’s Travels and we can all hardly wait to begin (me included )!
I also found that Ytreeide wrote another book that is an “Advent” for Easter. It’s called, Amon’s Adventure. I purchased it and gave it to my kiddos last Christmas. They were ecstatic! We read it before Easter and loved it, too. I do recommend waiting to read that until after you’ve finished the three book Christmas series, because it did have a few tidbits of information that we didn’t know fromTabitha’s Travels. It doesn’t give away any major spoilers, but I still think it’s better to wait.
The anticipation of waiting a year in between each book is not easy, but it makes it so much more fun! Each and every chapter ends with a major cliffhanger, so you can hardly wait until the next day to see what happens.
There is also a short devotional at the end of each chapter that can be used to talk with your children about the real meaning of Christmas (and Easter). Honestly, I have a few theological differences than the author, so my recommendation is for you as a parent to read the devotionals ahead of time and decide if it is something you would like to use or adapt.
I hope this review was helpful, and if you decide to read the series with your children, I would LOVE to hear about it!
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