When I first received this book I immediately thought, “this could be the perfect holiday book.” Soon I discovered it was even better after the holidays.
This is not just another Christmas book. It’s the story of a young man who understood how Jesus wanted us to reflect Him in our lives; to love others, to help others and to do it in “secret” to show who God is… Once in a while you come across a book that just speaks to you. The Secret of St. Nicholas is that book for me this year.
On January 9th, our children’s church will begin the St. Nick Project to do good deeds in secret — not telling what they are or who they are for. We will read The Secret of St. Nicholas, and use the author’s website, which has discussion questions and activities for preschoolers and up. We will have a spot where the children hang gold (paper) coins every time they do a good deed in secret. They can also write their thoughts in a journal; how they felt doing it, how people respond, but not the deeds themselves. We will continue this project until St. Nick’s day next year on December 6th (which falls on a Sunday) where we will celebrate St. Nick’s day together.
A beautiful hard cover book, with just a few lines of text on each page, and vibrant watercolor illustrations, Author Ellen Nibali and illustrator Lon Eric Craven truly weave a living, breathing story of a young boy and his love for the story of Jesus birth. Nicholas ponders “in a feed trough?… God surprised everyone!” “Nicholas decided that God liked surprises. When Jesus grew up, he never stopped surprising people. Jesus even said, “Do good deeds in secret.'” Nicholas proceeds to live this way as he saves three young girls from being sold into slavery. I was touched by two elements here. That he saved them by sacrifice, giving them the only thing he had in life to survive, his gold coins, and he saved them unconditionally, in spite of their Father’s repetitive selfishness.
This book shows the true spirit of doing for others and what a beautiful way to present it – in the story of a child who truly sees the meaning of Jesus! These are very powerful lessons, yet they’re told so very simply even the youngest child can learn from the story. The story that ends, “with God’s help, St. Nicholas did many brave and marvelous deeds. Perhaps best of all were the good deeds he did in secret. For on Christmas, the birthday of Jesus, boys and girls all over the world rush to see what new good deeds were done in the night. And that all began with a boy named Nicholas and his three bags of gold.”
It will be the gift I give this year for birthdays, baby dedications, baptismal birthdays and baby showers. The Secret of St. Nicholas is available on amazon for $11.53.
Update: This Sunday we presented our Saint Nicholas Project in kids’ church! It was a huge success. We first read the story to the kids and filled in with historical background we had researched in advance. The story was presented to preschool through 8th grade. The story captivated the attention of all ages, boys and girls alike. We then broke into small groups and participated in discussions and activities from the website. The kids loved it! Discussions were thought provoking, the craft were simple and fun for the preschoolers. Older kids spent time brainstorming ways they could do good deeds in secret. They all left excited to see the reaction of the people who will be surprised by their secret deeds!