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


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.

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