The Light of Christmas Morning by Susan Joy Bellavance, Illustrated by Anne Kissanne Engelhart

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Children's Books


Children’s Literature


Ages 3-8

Author’s Worldview


Year Published



Christmas, Mass, Family, Prayer, Catholic Christmas Traditions, Mary, the Nativity

Reviewed by

A.R.K. Watson

If you’re a parent looking for ways to more fully integrate your Catholic faith into your family’s Christmas traditions, look no further.

 The Light of Christmas Morning is a cozy, hand-painted children’s book that integrates Catholic Christmas traditions into the usual Christmas Eve and morning routine. The book begins with a family going to Christmas Eve Mass together. After visiting grandma and grandpa’s for dinner afterward, the family goes home and says a prayer around the Christmas tree. The advent wreath, its candles low from regular advent prayers, and a statue of Mary waiting for Baby Jesus are particularly noted.

After the children go to bed, the parents sneak in and put Baby Jesus next to one of the children’s beds. The next morning, the first person awake gets to hold Baby Jesus first. The children then wake their parents, who pass out candles to all the children except the one carrying Jesus. Then, singing a carol, they all go together to the Christmas tree where the Baby Jesus is placed next to his waiting mother. The family prays a prayer of thanksgiving together, which is helpfully included in the text, so that your family can say it too. Then at the very end, after these traditions have made it abundantly clear to the children the real purpose of Christmas, they all open presents. Even if your family is not able to replicate all of these traditions in your home, reading them this cozy bedtime story throughout Advent will help reinforce the Catholic traditions you do have and will be a heartwarming story to add to the Christmas atmosphere.

The hand-painted watercolor illustrations match the tone and warmth of classics like The Night Before Christmas and make a perfect Advent gift for children and families. I do not exaggerate when I say that Engelhart has produced my favorite illustrations that I have yet seen on Catholic Reads.

While Catholics are the primary intended audience, this book might also be appropriate for High-Church Anglicans. However, secular readers will not find much here relevant to their traditions, and giving this book as a gift to a secular family may come off as inappropriate. Parents who are converts to Catholicism, however, will especially find this book useful in giving them the tools for integrating Catholic tradition with their family life. Bellavance has once again proven herself a mainstay of Catholic children’s literature, and I highly recommend checking out her other books as well.

Get Catholic Books & eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

Five Little Angels by Kathleen T. Pelley Illustrated by Dubravka Kolanovic

Children learn how to make angels dance with joy in this dreamy hand-painted bedtime story.

Why Reading Fiction Made Me a Better Catholic

How reading fiction became a crucial step in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

Zeal & Zest: Where to Begin with Hillaire Belloc

Belloc was known as a Catholic polemicist with a vicious talent for skewering his opponents. Anyone struggling to persevere as a Christian in the fields of journalism or media should read him. His children’s books have an acerbic humor that will appeal to bored veterans of political correctness, especially teens.

Extraordinary! by Jacqueline Brown, Illustrated by Katie Anne Ennis

Make your child feel secure and loved by God and their Catholic family.

Feel-Good Books For Pandemic Summer

Book Therapy to chase the blues away

Best of 2020

Yes some good things DID happen this year- Catholic creators have not let turmoil stop their mission.

Jesus Do You Want to Be My Friend? by Mark Restaino, Illustrations by J.P. Alcomendas

This delightful picture book lets young readers imagine the daily life of the Christ Child while also teaching simple prayers.

Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids by Kathryn Griffin Swegart, O.F.S.

Teach your children about the real presence through these short bedtime stories.

The Rose and the Snake by Mark Restaino, Illustrated by J.P. Alcemendas

This thought-provoking children’s tale is tailor made to improve reading comprehension and teach a child where real self-worth comes from.

Saint Michael: Above the 38th Parallel by Shanti Guy

The true story of St. Michael, the original punch-communism-in-the-face superhero

Cinderella by Charles Perrault

The true story of the Catholic saint who inspired the myth of Cinderella

There Once Was a Penny by Mark Restaino, Illustrations by J.P. Alcomendas

This nursery rhyme teaches kids the value of faith and how it can help a person to love themselves according to standards not of this world.

August & September New Book Releases

Step into Fall with a Good Book

God Made the Moonlight by Erin Broestl, Illustrated by Jean Schoonover-Egolf

A beautifully illustrated bedtime story that helps your child see the beauty of nature as God’s personal love letter to humanity

Sister Aloysius Gets Ready for the First Day of School By Linda Etchison Illustrated by Denise Plumlee-Tadlock

Sister Aloysius leans on the Divine Mercy of Jesus as she gets ready for school.

Books for Lent

Deepen your Lenten reflection with these stories of repentance and forgiveness

The Fruit Tree by Mark Restaino, Illustrations by J.P. Alcomendas

This children’s fable will teach the whole family Biblical literacy and the Christian symbolic language.

Molly McBride and the Party Invitation by Jean Schoonover-Egolf 

This children’s book teaches compassion for bullies and the courage to act rightly regardless of others.