The Christmas story is the story from the Bible which tells of the birth of Jesus.
Even if you're from a different faith or are not very religious, it's worth sharing the story of the first Christmas with your children simply because it's such a well-known story.
In most countries, children will encounter elements of it and references to it throughout their lives.
And of course during December references to the Christmas story are everywhere so it makes sense to read it to them at least once and to discuss it.
By doing this you'll be building their background knowledge, a crucial skill for learning to read and for doing well at school.
On this page you'll find a free copy of the Christmas Story as it appears in the bible but there are also many picture books which tell the story.
If you'd like to buy one to read to your children, there are a few examples on the right.
If your family is not of the Christian faith, you may like to introduce the story by telling your child that many people believe there is a God who made us all and who made the earth and who watches over us from heaven.
You could then say something like: "The people who believe in God believe that his son, Jesus, was born on earth a very long time ago. I don't believe there is a God but I thought you might like to hear a story that some people tell about the way Jesus was born."
Again, I don't believe there's anything inconsistent about sharing this story with your children if you are of a different faith or if you are not religious at all. My family is Catholic and I enjoyed sharing stories about the Muslim and Jewish faiths (and other faiths too) with my children as they grew up.
I thought it was important to educate my children about what other people believe.
From Luke 2:1-20 New International Version (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
To hear a free audio version of the Christmas Story, click here to go to the wonderful storynory website.