The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - A Guide for Teachers and Parents
"One of the best Christmas books ever," says Publishers weekly about The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I agree. My kids love this book and I do too. It's a fantastic selection for a family or classroom read-aloud around Christmas time. Besides being clever, funny, and emotionally moving, this book forces the reader to throw out the tired Christmas conventions and see the wonderful story of Christmas with new eyes.
As a teacher, I like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for its vocabulary, the narrator's point of view, potential for spinoff projects, essays, and discussions, and the way it unpretentiously teaches empathy and compassion. If you haven't read this excellent book, borrow it from a friend or the library, read it in a sitting at the bookstore, or buy your own copy. You'll be glad you did.
(Photo by Kurt Magoon, CC2.0)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Plot Summary - Spoiler warning: full synopsis
The Herdmans are six scrawny children ( Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie and Gladys) who are notorious delinquents in their community. Among other things, they lie, steal, smoke cigars (even the girls!), swear, and hit little kids. The kids basically raise themselves. Their father walked out when the youngest was two years old, and their mother works double shifts at the shoe factory.
The story is narrated by Beth Bradley, a girl in Imogene Herdman's class. Beth's brother, Charlie, unwisely lies to Leroy Herdman, saying that he doesn't mind Leroy stealing his dessert at school because Charlie gets all the snacks he wants at Sunday School. This leads to all six Herdmans showing up at church the next Sunday for the first time in their lives.
Beth's mother is put in charge of the Christmas pageant when the original leader, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, fells and breaks her leg. The announcement for the auditions happens to be on the day the Herdmans show up at church, and, avid movie fans that they are, the Herdman's volunteer (and threaten) their way into all six of the main parts.
In spite of the Herdmans never having heard the Christmas story before (and wanting to change the script so they can hunt down the evil King Herod) and in spite of never making it through a complete rehearsal, the show does go on and turns out to be, as everyone says, the best Christmas pageant they have ever seen. Nobody can put a finger on the precise reason, but it has to do with the fact that the Herdmans just act like real people, probably like the characters in the Bible story really were, rather than the radiant, haloed saints that are usually protrayed. (Adapted from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on Wikipedia.)
Can't Get Enough of the Herdmans? - More books with characters from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
These aren't as popular as The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but give them a chance. If you've read one of these, please share your impressions in the guest book.
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Activities, Lesson Plans, and Projects - Extend the learning in your home or classroom
Below you will find activities, lesson plans, unit study ideas, vocabulary/spelling words and more, all related to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The book is under 100 pages and contains seven chapters. There are many ways to schedule the reading and activities, but one possibility is to read a chapter a day, beginning in early December, working on vocabulary all along, and then do some bigger activities right before winter break. (Photo by Kurt Magoon)
The Teachers' Poll
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Online Resources for Teachers - Find essay questions, vocabulary exercises, activities and more
- University of Missouri's collection of links to "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" activities and lesson
These sites provide activities to go along with the book "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson. Includes lesson plans, discussion questions, and classroom activities
- "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" activities on Teachervison
"Best Christmas Pageant Ever" essay topics, project ideas, grammar work and tests. This is a membership site but you can see five resources for free before signing up.
A Guide for Using "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in the Classroom - Recommended Resource for Teachers
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Vocabulary and Spelling Words
Create your own list or borrow someone else's
Spellingcity.com is a wonderful free site to learn spelling and vocabulary words. You can build your own list or choose from one of thousands of teacher-submitted lists. Here is one of ten lists of spelling words from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. You can print the word lists, or use the site for drills, games and tests.
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Script - Feeling ambitious? Put on a performance
Author Study: Barbara Robinson
Learn more about the creator of the Herdmans
Author Barbara Robinson grew up in a small town on the Ohio River. Her father died when she was young and her mother, who raised her with the help of friends and relatives, instilled in her a love for books. She began writing very early, and besides her books for children, has wrote poems and short stories. The beloved author died in 2013.
Please Sign the Christmas Pageant Guestbook - Share your thoughts on this page or "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
maryseena on December 19, 2012:
I'm looking forward to reading this book.
anonymous on December 18, 2012:
its an awesome book my teacher read it to us and my whole class loved the book
Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on December 01, 2012:
A great book for any age at Christmas!
franstan lm on November 06, 2012:
jadehorseshoe on December 21, 2011:
A cool lens; for any season of the year.
healthandsick on December 19, 2011:
great book for Christmas..
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on December 17, 2011:
This is a great way to bring new life and a new perspective into the annual Christmas pageant. Thank you for introducing me to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Appreciated!
anonymous on December 16, 2011:
Great lens. Wanting to check out this story now.
Buchamar on December 14, 2011:
Great Lens! Thank you for reminders of a great story!
baby-strollers on December 07, 2011:
very nice, I remember reading the book when I was younger...
GraceKing on December 02, 2011:
Ohhh I have read this book before, nice book and actually I have recommended to many friends too :)
ekkoautos on November 29, 2011:
thanks for sharing this nice book
Brookelorren LM on November 24, 2011:
Love this book. I was in this play twice: once as a baby angel, and the second time as Beth. Good story.
Stacy Birch on November 22, 2011:
Nice lens, I like the photos.
Jeremy (author) from Tokyo, Japan on November 19, 2011:
@JoyfulPamela2: That's awesome! Thank you for sharing.
JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on November 19, 2011:
Love the book, play, and movie! I was recently performing in an orchestra in a small local theater in Pennsylvania and was really excited to find out that it was the original theater that presented the play version. I am told that Mrs. Robinson has been there to help with the production many years - very cool! =D
anonymous on November 10, 2011:
Sounds like an interesting read. Haven't heard of it until right now!
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on August 14, 2011:
Excellent lens about an excellent book. Sprinkled with dust from the Angel of the farmyard on a Back to School Field Trip and featured on 70 Super Angel Blessed Squidoo Pages.
deldobuss on December 26, 2010:
We just read this for Christmas! Such a great story!
littlelu lm on December 22, 2010:
One of my favorite books ever! I got 100 on the quiz! Thanks for the lens and blessed :)
anonymous on December 06, 2010:
This is new to me but sounds like a wonderful story that would be so fun to read. I could follow the story line a bit by the quiz questions. I would guess you often hear, "Can you read it again!"
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on December 05, 2010:
I used to booktalk this book every holiday season when I visited the schools. The kids would flock to the library to get it. I'm glad you're introducing it to more readers.
jgelien on November 29, 2010:
I loved the book and the movie and really enjoyed playing the part of Helen Armstrong in a local production put on by our church. Two of girls were in it and played Beth Bradley and Maxine. Great story about love, acceptance and the true meaning of Christmas.
MuskyJim LM on November 25, 2010:
Thank you for a great lens =D
Sami4u LM on November 14, 2010:
Nice review :)
HorseAndPony LM on November 04, 2010:
Thanks for the great review and activity tips. I think my daughter would enjoy this book.
Robin S from USA on November 03, 2010: