Asleep on the Hay by Ben Sowards – book review and tour

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Disclosure: I received this book to review. Opinions shared are mine.

Asleep on the Hay (1)

Read a story on Christmas Eve that isn’t the ubiquitous “Night Before Christmas.” This year, add Asleep on the Hay to your family’s holiday bookshelf.

Asleep on the Hay would be a winner for the illustrations alone. The artwork reminds me of Thomas Kinkade’s brilliance; the light and shadows are words for the scenes. This story, set in the Dust Bowl, is a beautiful counterpart to the thoughtful art. When a young boy demonstrates the true meaning of Christmas, in the spirit of giving and selflessness, it makes the whole reason for the season stand out.

If your children have studied the Dust Bowl in school, they’ll appreciate the gentle references to poverty, hunger, and loneliness that were so prevalent to this era. Take the time to compare the Dust Bowl to the modern age. Can you find correlations between people in your community or church who may be in need? Can your child relate the sacrifice of a beloved “pet” to giving up an outgrown dress or favorite toy, passing it along to a child who can use it?

I have many childhood memories of my mother sharing what we had. Whether it was money for electricity bills, food, and even a bed for a homeless friend, my mom sometimes went without in order to offer hope to others. Asleep in the Hay reminded me of those meager times, and the silent joy that came with knowing that our family helped someone else’s holiday be a little brighter.

Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas by Ben Sowards

It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck.

Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth—extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.


Asleep on the Hay 1


Asleep on the Hay 2


Asleep on the Hay 3


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ben sowards Author & Illustrator Ben Sowards

Ben Sowards is the illustrator of many well-loved picture books, including A Christmas Dress for Ellen, Seven Miracles that Saved America, and Christmas Oranges.

Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.





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