Christmas is about the heart and creating strong, lasting memories. Good books do just that, especially if the story engages children and adults alike.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston (1988) is an Appalachian tale of a family, a tree, and a community’s local tradition. The World War interrupts what is supposed to be. I shove this book into the hands of adults because it is that good. They thank me.
Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble (1984) is a story in New England, where a terrible blizzard takes down a beloved tree. How the family manages Christmas that year is unexpected to the reader, and the message of giving rings true.
On Christmas Eve by Peter Collington (1990) is a wordless book with exquisitely detailed illustrations. Wordless books are not for the very young, as they ignite far more thought (and discussion) than books with words. This story is from England with slightly different traditions from America. Oh, the fairies! They make the story from beginning to end.
Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomi de Paola (1986) is a joyful Italian story of Christmas magic. Every child needs to hear stories with a character that makes mistakes, and Big Anthony does just that. Delightful!
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry (1963) is the story of a big Christmas tree in a big house, and the tree is too tall. The top is chopped off, and the adventure begins from family to family.
Great books often become excellent movies. Two of the greatest Christmas books have become blockbuster movies. Yet, the original was the book, and the book often has more. When children watch a movie with their family, there is little room for conversation or discussion. When parents read the book with their child, the world opens up- simply because together they can stop at any place in the story to talk, laugh, ask questions, learn and love.
Here are the two books that became movies:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (1957) is a classic with the best message of the meaning of Christmas. When I read the book to my preschool class, children ask if the this is the real Grinch, because he is white. The movie Grinch is green. Thank goodness I read this book aloud every year!
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1985) is a thrilling Christmas story. Parents see the book in my classroom, and some are surprised to know that it is actually a book, written long before the movie. The illustrations and the story line make for a must read Christmas story. The book is the real deal.
Books open the world and the imagination. Christmas is the best time to read-aloud, snuggled together and creating lasting memories. These books do just that.