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December has arrived and we are already into the holiday spirit. Tis the season for Santa, giving, snow, candy, lots of food, presents, shopping, and above all, family traditions! When my children were younger, one of our favorite holiday traditions was to read Christmas stories by candlelight. We would wrap up in blankets, snuggle up with a good cup of hot coco, and begin tackling the large stack of books they had picked out. I even had a small Santa’s bag filled with items that told the Christmas story so I could help them better understand the meaning of Christmas. They loved reading about the elves, Santa’s workshop, Rudolph, and of course we saved the best for last, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I’d turn on my best grinchy voice and we would settle in for our long winter’s nap reading about little Cindy Lou Who and good ole Max until their eye lids could barely stay open.
This is the one tradition we have kept up over the years and still brings back fun memories and even some tears. Each year we try to incorporate a new holiday story into the mix so we can add to our pile and make new memories. Not only did this fun holiday tradition give my kids something to remember and share with their own families, it helped them develop a love for reading. Reading Christmas stories brought characters to life, allowed their minds to travel to far off places, and inspired them to write their own stories.
While you are out shopping for presents this holiday season, wrap up a book or two and make it one of your holiday traditions. Reading together offers so many benefits and shows your children how much you value reading. There are so many great choices; it’s hard to pick just one. You can’t go wrong with any stories about Christmas and the holidays, but if you need some inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites. Some of these books you have already heard of, but others might be new. Try them out and let us know how your family enjoyed them this holiday season.
Our Favorite Holiday Picks
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel): The Grinch is a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature with a heart “two sizes too small” who lives on snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep high mountain just north of Whoville. From his perch high atop, the Grinch can hear the noisy Christmas festivities that take place in Whoville. Annoyed, he decides to stop Christmas from coming by stealing their presents, trees, and food for their Christmas feast. The Grinch then takes his sleigh to the top of Mount Crumpit, and prepares to dump all of the presents into the abyss. As dawn breaks, he expects to hear the Whos’ bitter and sorrowful cries, but is confused to hear them singing a joyous Christmas song instead. He puzzles for a moment until it dawns upon him that perhaps Christmas is more than presents and feasting: “Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more.”
The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg): A young boy, who used to adore Christmas, hears a train whistle roar. To his astonishment, he finds the train is waiting for him. He runs downstairs and goes outside. The conductor explains the train is called the Polar Express, and is journeying to the North Pole. The boy then boards the train, which is filled with chocolate and candy, as well as many other children in their pajamas. As the train reaches the North Pole, the boy and the other children see thousands of Christmas elves gathered at the center of town waiting to send Santa Claus on his way. The boy is handpicked by Santa to receive the first gift of Christmas.
Christmas Oranges (Linda Bethers): This illustrated gift book for all ages tells the classic story of the “Christmas Oranges,” in which a young orphan girl named Rose discovers the spirit of generosity that lies at the heart of the holiday. When Rose is eight years old, an epidemic forces the closing of her beloved Greenwoods Orphanage, and she is shipped to Irongates, an austere, loveless institution run with Dickensian cruelty. Headmaster Crampton punishes Rose severely for a tiny infraction, decreeing that she miss the special treat of an orange on Christmas morning. How the other children circumvent his instructions to safeguard a glorious Christmas for Rose.
The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes (Deborah Pace Rowley): What would you do to create a miracle for another family? Walter needed one. Times were hard, and his father was very ill and had lost his job. Walter knew the other children in his German town would be placing their wooden shoes on their doorsteps for St. Nicholas to fill with toys and candy. This year, however, there was little reason for Walter to think his shoes would be filled. But the next morning, there on the doorstep are Walter’s shoes brimming with candles. For many nights, his wooden shoes are filled and needful gifts continue to appear.
The Wild Christmas Reindeer (Jan Brett): Little Teeka thought she had to be firm with the reindeer to get them ready for Santa’s important flight, but when her bossy yelling only got their antlers tangled up, she knew she had to try something different.
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad (Little Critter Series) (Mercer Mayer): Little Critter approaches Christmas with the intention of being a good helper. When he makes a mistake, he has a logical explanation. He couldn’t wrap the Christmas package because the tape got too sticky. He couldn’t buy his parents a present because there were too many toys to look at. He couldn’t put up the tree lights because they were just too tangled. Little Critter means well, but every funny illustration shows him as tangled up as the Christmas lights.
How Santa Got His Job (Stephen Krensky): When Santa was young and needed a job, but no one was looking for a man in a red suit to deliver gifts on Christmas. So Santa tried just about everything — from a chimney sweep to a postman to a circus performer. But none of these worked out. It wasn’t until he met a group of elves who helped him use all his special talents, that Santa was able to find his dream job.
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