This week the students of Trinity Lutheran School were treated to an early Christmas present when Dr. Jeremy Levitt stopped by to read his newly released book to the VPK-4th graders. His daughter, a Trinity student in VPK, introduced her father to her classmates in the first of the three groups he read to at Trinity. This “author talk” was the first public reading of the book Africa Claus in Orlando since it’s release in 2014.
In his book, Dr. Levitt uses the character “Africa Claus” as a way to explain gift-giving at Christmas in another culture. As Christian parents often use Santa Claus, the gift-giver, to explain the real meaning of Christmas, namely, God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ, the author uses the story of Africa Claus, who is introduced as a long-time, secret friend of Santa Claus, to explain gift-giving in Ethiopia with different imagery. Africa Claus’s chariot (not a sleigh), is pulled by “ligers” (not reindeer–yes, this lion/tiger hybrid really does exist in Africa), and he, too, has his special dwarfs as helpers.
Over the course of the morning Dr. Levitt spent time with the students inviting them to read with him. He asked questions helping to explain the story of Africa Claus and how he helps to spread the love of Christ by his actions. In one class, our students’ answers impressed Dr. Levitt with how clearly they understood that Christmas is about Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Thank you, Dr. Levitt, for sharing your book with us here at Trinity. The students were excited to have a real-life author come and read to them. In the Q&A sessions after each reading the students were quick to share their thoughts on the imagery of Africa Claus. They loved how he and Santa Claus were friends; they imagined how the two of them meet every year to plan their journey around the globe. They even questioned Dr. Levitt where Africa Claus’ magical ligers live (next to his house), and one student even asked if Africa Claus was really Dr. Levitt!
What an opportunity for our students to meet an author, one whose daughter attends our school, and to look at imagery in literature, and to see how traditions in every culture can challenge us to think about who God is and what He gives us in Jesus.