Favorite Family Christmas Storybooks

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Read aloud: Favorite storybooks

The Huron CarolListed in no particular order.

  • 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). Wonderful evocation of the world of the magi and the meaning of our quest. Read on or near Epiphany.
  • Henry Van Dyke, The Lost Word (The De Vinne Press, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1898). Evokes the world of Constantine and Chrysostom. Read between Thanksgiving and Christmas. See this post.
  • Henry Van Dyke, The Mansion (Harper and Brothers, 1910). Reminds me of the classic Christmas movie It Happened on 5th Avenue.
  • Henry Van Dyke, The First Christmas Tree (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897). Evokes the world of Boniface and the conversion of the Germanic peoples.
  • George MacDonald, “The Gifts of the Child Christ.” Cf. this post: “It is a poignant tale of how we are here to learn to love, how suffering and grief may be redeemed toward that end, and how Christmas-time may help us in that ongoing task.”
  • 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
    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.

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