The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Published April 12, 2005 (Originally published 1972)
About The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids.
Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked. It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.
This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.
I think I maybe read this book in school back in the day? I’m not totally sure, but I know I read it when I was in elementary school, and had wanted to read it again.
This year I’ve been addicted to Tim Curry’s audiobook performance of A Christmas Carol, but I wanted to read another Christmas story that left me feeling more centered on things that matter at Christmas. I’m super glad I remembered this one.
I love that the story is so simple. It’s literally 7 chapters, and I think I read the whole thing in maybe 30 minutes? It would easily be a great book to read aloud with a family over the holidays.
I also love that the story centers around kids that are outsiders, kids who are judged to be “undeserving” of starring roles by the good Christian church members. Yet, it’s their performance that so calls to mind the truth that Mary and Joseph and Jesus were outsiders and refugees themselves.
The whole story is about how this unexpected turn of events takes a tradition that everyone sort of goes through the motions repeating and brings it to life and makes us experience it in a fresh, new way.
It reminds us that the Christian Gospel is supposed to be accessible to everyone, not just the church people. That God has starring roles planned for people we wouldn’t expect him to choose.
At any rate, this is one of my favorite Christmas stories, and I’m glad that I was able to read it again this year.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Few racial details given.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Most of the story takes place in a Christian church, with kids putting on a Christmas pageant centered around the story of Christ’s birth.
Some reference to arson and bullying by the Herdman kids.
References to the Herdman kids smoking.
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