The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. This book has been an annual tradition for me since Mrs. Beville read it to my fifth-grade class. Now Scott reads it to our kids, who are slightly better mannered than the obnoxious Herdman crew but just as full of provoking questions. The Herdmans, as unruly a bunch of young hoodlums as ever burned down a neighbor’s shed, have a way of jarring people out of their unexamined ruts, startling them into examining, thinking, noticing—even if only in self-defense. For that, and for their alarming frankness, I adore these foul-mouthed, looting, hooting Herdman kids.