Book Review: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Barbara Robinson

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christmas fiction

When the Herdmans, all six of the rowdiest, meanest, unruliest kids in school, volunteered to be in the Christmas pageant, everyone was sure it would be the worst pageant ever. One thing’s for sureā€”it will be unforgettable.

This is yet another well-known children’s book that was around when I was a kid, yet I didn’t read. I remember some of my sisters talking about it, though, and since I definitely read a lot back then, I don’t know why I didn’t read it. I picked it up this year because my daughter was looking for a Christmas-themed book to read for school, and I like to read what she does so we can discuss it. It’s a short read, but so very good!

After a chapter describing the antics of the Herdman children so we know how terrible they are, the book gets going with the narrator’s mom having the annual church Christmas pageant fall into her lap. The narrator, by the way, never has a name, which is quite uncommon, at least in my reading experience. As the Herdmans join the pageant and try to get a handle on their parts and motivations behind them, it’s clear that they’ve never been exposed to this (or probably any) biblical account. Though this is not specifically a Christian book, it presents a scenario that can really make you think. The Herdman children’s antics seem to me to be a cry for love and attention, and rather than turning up their noses and wagging their tongues, the people of the church should have taken the opportunity to teach them about God. I appreciate the patience the narrator’s mom has with them (though that did wane sometimes), even if it is only just so she can prove she can put on a great pageant.

I know these kids are fictional, but I found myself left with a profound feeling of hope that someone would take them under their wing and teach them more about Jesus. I suppose that that alone means that Barbara Robinson did a great job with the characters and emotions in the book. If your upper-elementary child, even a little older than that (my daughter is 12) it looking for a good Christmas book this season, consider checking this out. Some parents are concerned about their kids reading about the unpleasant things the Herdman kids do, but they’re definitely shown in a negative light. A conversation after reading to discuss the bullying is probably a good idea anyway. If you’re interested in the book, I say definitely read it (it won’t take long).

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!