Read aloud: Favorite storybooks
Listed in no particular order. Links are to Amazon:
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas. We read aloud from this throughout the season. We have several copies so that everyone can examine Tolkien’s own detailed illustrations.
- Henry Van Dyke, The Story of the Other Wise Man, illustrated by J.R. Flanagan (1907).
- Henry Van Dyke, The Lost Word (The De Vinne Press, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1898).
- George MacDonald, “The Gifts of the Child Christ.”
- Eve Bunting, Night Tree; and Mary Ray, Christmas Farm. Read one or both of these aloud the night before you set up or go pick out the tree.
- Dandi Mackall, Legend of St. Nicholas. This is a great family read-aloud for December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas.
- John McCutcheon, Christmas in the Trenches. This book places one of McCutcheon’s songs from his wonderful Christmas album into illustrated form. See my post Peace, 1914-2014.
- Earthrise: A Christmas Eve read-aloud.
- Frances Tyrrell, The Huron Carol. This beautifully illustrated edition brings one of my all-time favorite carols powerfully to life. Listen to Bruce Cockburn’s rendition, which includes verses sung in both French and Huron.
- Susan Wojciechowski, Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. One of our favorite read-alouds! Perfect for a night when the focus is on the nativity set, perhaps Christmas Eve, before the Jesus figure appears in the manger on Christmas morning.
- Jane Donovan, Winter’s Gift. A country story of hope reborn.
- Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit. See also the wonderful 30-minute video featuring music by George Winston, narrated by Meryl Streep.
- The Cinnamon Bear (audio recording). Because of Dan Barrett, our kids grew up listening to this early radio saga on our long holiday trips home. Thanks, Dan!
- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. This may take two or three sittings to complete.
- Charles Schultz, A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s great to have a storybook version of this wonderful classic TV special.
- The Friendly Beasts, illustrated by Tomie dePaola.
Candace reading The Friendly Beasts to Rachel and Hannah
- Little Golden Books: Uncle Mistletoe; Santa’s Workshop; The Night Before Christmas and The Biggest, Most Beautiful Christmas Tree.
- American Girls Collection: Hannah loves the Christmas stories of all the American Girls books, but particularly Kirsten’s Surprise, which includes a story of St. Lucia’s day she still fondly recalls for its portrayal of a Swedish caring family. She also enjoys Felicity’s Surprise (Colonial), Josefina’s Surprise (American Southwest), and Samantha’s Surprise (Victorian).
- Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (magnificently illustrated by Susan Jeffers).
- Jan Brett, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Jan Brett must have a couple dozen books we enjoy at Christmas, each illustrated in her hallmark style featuring meticulously detailed depictions of wintry scenes. This one illustrates the song — we sing it every morning, adding one verse each day, throughout the 12 days. Other Brett favorites include Trouble with Trolls; Christmas Trolls; Three Snow Bears; and Wild Christmas Reindeer.
- O’Henry, Gift of the Magi. Perfect for reading aloud on one of the 12 nights of Christmas, as Epiphany draws near.
- Madeleine L’Engle, Dance in the Desert. A story of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt; read aloud near Epiphany.
- Kate Douglas Wiggin, illustrated by Alice Ercle Hunt, The Romance of a Christmas Card (1916).
- David Rubel, The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale About the Rockefeller Center Tree (2011), illustrated by Jim LaMarche. A heartwarming tale of ordinary kindness in the Great Depression.
- Ruben Saillens, adapted by Leo Tolstoy, retold by Mig Holder, Papa Panov’s Special Day (1988), illustrated by Tony Morris. A moving story of how Papa Panov unknowingly finds Jesus in his town on Christmas day.
- Gloria Houston, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (1988), illustrated by Barbara Cooney. Another heartwarming story.
- Geraldine McCaughrean, Father and Son: A Nativity Story (2006), illustrated by Fabian Negrin. A beautiful meditation of Joseph as he stays awake by the manger through the night.
- “The Empty Cup,” by Opal Menius; “The Littlest Shepherd,” by Dorothy Boulware; “My Son,” by Armand Currie; in Stories for Christmas, ed. Mary Virginia Robinson (1967).
- Tasha Tudor, ed., Take Joy! (Philomel Books, 1966)
- Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book.
It has been Santa’s custom to present the family with a new illustrated Christmas storybook each year.