Submitted by Rachel Keller
Our whole family enjoys reading (or being read to) which is great because reading is inexpensive, enjoyable, and profitable for everyone. My husband and I began reading stories together even before we had children. Now, each December, we choose several Christmas stories to read together as a family. I’ve been collecting Christmas stories over the years and have quite a collection of stories for all age levels.
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Most of our stories we purchased second-hand at used book stores, thrift shops, or yard sales. Some were gifts. Consider visiting your local library for some great Christmas titles. (Print this list to take with you!)
When reading to children, choose a book at or above the level of the eldest child. Children can listen and comprehend well above their reading level. This doesn't mean you should never read a book below their reading level. Include a variety of books in their read-aloud times. The important thing is to read aloud since children who are read to become stronger readers.
If you don’t have time to read a whole book, consider reading a chapter or two. Often children will be motivated to read the rest of the book. Some books, while not specifically Christmas, may have some chapters with a Christmas theme. This is true of nearly every Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House Books and some of Michael Bond’s Paddington Series.
I have a list of over 50 different stories to choose from but am only including 16 of our favorites. And on Christmas day our favorite story to read is the Christmas story from the Bible. Have fun reading!
The Bears' Christmas by Stan and Jan Berenstain (1970). Beginner Books (Random House)
This humorous story is told in rhyme, and young children really enjoy it.
Milk and Cookies by Frank Asch (1982) Parents Magazine Press in New York
Little Bear and his family spend a winter night at their grandparents. During the middle of the night, Little Bear gets up and thinks he sees his grandfather feeding "a dragon." Little Bear later discovers "the dragon" is a wood stove. This is a great story for discussing nighttime fears. My sons love this story because they visit their grandfather each Christmas, and he has a wood stove.
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (1999) G. P. Putnam's Sons in New York
This delightful tale for the young child is full of colorful and enchanting illustrations.
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (1986) Avon Books
You will laugh just as much, if not more, than your children over the antics of the literal‑minded Amelia Bedelia.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1975)
A heartwarming story about a Velveteen Rabbit who became a boy's favorite Christmas present...for two hours. Then the rabbit was forgotten until the boy's nanny gave him the rabbit to sleep with one night. The Velveteen Rabbit's one desire is to be real.
A Certain Small Shepherd by Rebecca Caudill (1965) A Dell Young Yearling Publication
A heartwarming story about a mute boy whose one wish is to sing in the Christmas pageant. An exciting Christmas miracle unfolds when a compassionate teacher lets Jamie play the part of the shepherd. (Reading level 2.7)
Goliath's Christmas by Terrance Dicks (1986) Published by Scholastic
Can David and his dog Goliath rescue the old woman Mrs. Gorringer from danger and save the Christmas party? (Reading level 3)
A Country Christmas by Bonnie Lou Risby (1996) Troll Communications
Francy wants Christmas to be the most special holiday ever, but with jobs and money scarce, Francy’s family won’t be able to afford decorations or gifts. Francy’s mother comes up with an idea to earn money and the whole family works together, but will the plan work? This heartwarming story reveals the priceless part of a Christmas celebration.
The Christmas Duck by Ken Gire, Jr. (1983) Mott Media, Inc., 1000 East Huron Street, Milford, Michigan, 48042
Although this story begins and ends with Christmas, it has nothing to do with a duck. The book explores mental retardation and shows the positive effects that a retarded child can have on others. An older elementary child could read the story, or parents can read the book to all ages. I cried when I read the story, and I still cry when I read it to my children.
Best of Friends by Susan Walley (1989) by Bob Jones Press in Greenville, SC
Another excellent book dealing with the issues of friendship and mental retardation. This story begins with a new school year and ends with the Christmas season and a Christmas pageant. It involves a mentally retarded boy Louis, Katie Crawford, Esther, and a talented new girl Renee. The girls learn important lessons about true friendships. The ending will surprise and delight all readers.
Surprise at Logan School book 2 from the Tootie McCarthy Series by Connie Griffith (1993) Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
Tootie assures her teacher that she’ll have a perfect costume to play the main angel in the Christmas play, but Tootie’s family is too poor to provide such a costume. Tootie forgets her problems when gypsies arrive and prejudice runs high. The gypsies rescue Tootie’s brother who has Down syndrome and offer to help with her costume. Of the night of the play there is more than one surprise. This is a great book to discuss prejudice.
Ten Tales of Christmas compiled by Lynne G. Miller and published by Scholastic
This book contains ten short Christmas stories and some additional Christmas poetry. Also includes pictures. Although this is reading level 5, younger children will enjoy hearing the story read aloud.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1972) Harper & Row Publishers
Will the Herdmans ("the worst kids in the history of the world") destroy this years' Christmas pageant? This story will make you laugh and cry at the same time and maybe help you better understand the real meaning of Christmas. We never tire of this story and read it every year.
Elsie's Christmas by Martha Finley (1888, 1997) published by Mantle Ministries, 228 Still Ridge, Bulverd, TX, 78163 (from the Elsie Dinsmore Collection)
Originally published in the 19th century, the Elsie stories were national best sellers for over 30 years. These are great Christian books for young girls.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1994) published by Barnes & Noble, Inc. and Scholastic
You will enjoy reading Dickens' classic tale of Scrooge as much as (or more than) watching it on television. (Reading level 5)
The Christmas Story from the Holy Bible
Don’t forget the most important Christmas story of all. Without the birth of Christ, there would be no reason to celebrate Christmas.
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Copyright © 2004 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.