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Charming Christmas story takes readers inside the ‘Bethlehem Barn’


BRISTOL, R.I. — If the animals who witnessed Jesus’ birth could have spoken, what would they have said? In her 2022 Moonbeam Award-winning book, “Bethlehem Barn,” Debra Westgate-Silva gives young audiences a lighthearted retelling of the classic Christmas story – from the animals’ point of view.  

“The story was inspired by a church service I attended several years ago when a minister mentioned an ancient legend that for one hour on Christmas Eve, animals are given the gift of speech,” Westgate-Silva said.

She immediately began envisioning different possibilities for a children’s story. What would the animals have said on that very first Christmas Eve? How would the cow have felt when she realized a baby was in her food trough? How would the animals know who the baby was?

As the quirky animals came to life in Westgate-Silva’s imagination, so did the message she wanted to convey. 

“My goal was to create a fun story that children would want to read over and over that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of giving, caring and community,” Westgate-Silva said.

With soft, beautiful artwork and a delightful animal cast, “Bethlehem Barn” is geared

toward children ages 4-8, and delivers a fun read that entertains while teaching the foundational Christmas story.

Debra Westgate-Silva is a writer who worked in public education and child advocacy and welfare for many years. She has been published in Highlights children’s magazine and Teaching Tolerance (now Learning for Justice). She is involved with Love Smiles, a pediatric cancer foundation that partners with authors to share stories with patients and families, read by the authors themselves. She is also involved with organizations that promote childhood literacy and causes related to child welfare.

Westgate-Silva lives in Bristol, Rhode Island, with her husband and two sons. She loves reading, writing, cooking, traveling and spending time with her family. She also enjoys being part of writing organizations, which include The Writing Barn, 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, and Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her favorite holiday is Christmas, and a cherished family tradition is baking a birthday cake for baby Jesus each year. “Bethlehem Barn” is her first picture book.

“Bethlehem Barn” is available from Amazon.com and BN.com.


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