What to Read for Christmas

Two Kelly kids reading A Christmas Carol illustrated by Liz Zwerger.  We also like her illustrations in The Nutcracker and The Gift of the Magi.

It seems that everyone in the blogging world is blogging about their favorite Christmas books,  past and present.  I have collected old Christmas books for years, so these posts are some of my favorites.  It's a wonderful thing to snuggle up on the couch under a quilt to read and re-read books that appear only once a year. I'll share a few of our family's top picks here.

A Pollyanna-type  Christmas story with a sad ending.  Carol Bird is a terminally ill child who was born on Christmas day.  It teaches many values without being too preachy.  Each time we read it, we hope she'll live and when she doesn't, we resolve to live more like her. (We have three copies by different illustrators.)
Did you know that Charlotte Mason talked about what sort of books should be read at Christmas time?  Here is her advice to parents of children nine and under:
It is a pity when the sense of the ludicrous is cultivated in children's books at the expense of better things.  This point is worth considering in connection with Christmas books for the little people. Books of 'comicalities' cultivate no power but the sense of the incongruous; and though life is the more amusing for the possession of such a sense, when cultivated to excess it is apt to show itself a flippant habit. Diogenes and the Naughty Boys of Troy is irresistible, but it is not the sort of thing the children will live over and over, and 'play at' by the hour, as we have all played at Robinson Crusoe finding the footprints. Vol. 1, p. 158
Good, common-sense advice on choosing high quality books, even at Christmas.  But then she throws out this one:
They must have 'funny books,' but do not give the children too much nonsense reading.
There you have it - permission to indulge in a not-so-serious book or two.  She must have been acquainted with a few real families. Here are a couple more that we enjoy, including some "fluffy" titles.  Happy reading this holiday season.  May each story you read together eventually lead you to the story.
Any book by Tasha Tudor...or illustrated by Tasha Tudor...or about Tasha Tudor is a favorite here.  Take Joy, Samantha's Surprise, Forever Christmas, The Night Before Christmas, The Dolls' Christmas, Becky's Christmas, The Christmas Cat,  Advent Calendar and Favorite Christmas Carols.  I think that's all I have.  So far.

 A handful of shorter (and some fluffy) books:
Apple Tree Christmas - Nobel (wonderful if you have a budding artist!)
The Crippled Lamb - Lucado (dh read this during a Christmas program one year long ago...there wasn't a dry eye in the place)
Christmas in Noisy Village - Lindgren (children in Sweden)
The Lion in the Box - De Angeli (resourceful children)
A Certain Small Shepherd - Caudill (I LOVE this story, small boy who won't talk after mom dies) 
Santa's Book of Names -McPhail (about a boy just learning to read - we always seem to have one of those) 
Subtitled "A Book of Stories Old and New", this is a favorite collection of Christmas stories.

This odd little book by the author of children's composer biographies is for Mom to read.  It tells of Ms. Wheeler's
 fulfilled dream to experience Christmas in Bethlehem.


  1. Okay, Lizbeth Zwerger's illustrations are dreamy but how ever did you make that first photograph in the book?! Very, very nice.

    These Christmas reading posts have been fun to read and I'm so excited to discover so many new treasures to add to our reading. That quote on having 'funny' books really shows just how in-tune CM was.

    Interested to know more about what you thought of O. Wheeler's book. Odd because it seems out of place among her other books or was it really odd?


  2. One day when I go to your house, I want to be locked up in the book room for 3 days. Please allow the children to bring me food and drink. You get to come in too, at times, for tea and and fellowship. Then everyone must leave me with the books! *spoken by a true book grinch! lol! Ps. I may also require a tour of the house.

  3. @ Richele - About Opal's book, I meant "odd" in the sense that it isn't like her other books for children. I really liked it!

    @ Pam - You are too funny! If you make the trek to the LER again next year, you will most definitely be invited over!

  4. Ooh, love reading all the lovely reviews of Christmas books.

    I'm curious about the wheeler book as well. Will keep an eye out.

  5. Thank you for stopping by my blog, it's nice to meet you. The Wheeler book really caught my eye, we have some her biographies, I've enjoyed them. I will have to look for her Bethlehem one at the thrifts, you just never know what you might find. Thank you for sharing all your book treasures. I will have to add you to my reader I don't want to miss your posts!

  6. I have to add The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. My family reads it every year. We start by laughing so hard we can't read and end by crying so hard we can't read. I checked it out from the library today because my copy is still in Minnesota.

  7. @ Bethany,
    Yes, and it's because of your family that DH started reading it to the littles every year! Have you blogged about it yet? Is the movie any good? Isn't there a play? That is Daddy's story every year...

  8. @Nancy
    It's not just phone tag, it's a wrong number! I guess Bethany and I can get confused even in cyberspace. I did blog a bit about Christmas Pageant, and I'm sure I'll pick another selection from it before the season is out. There are too many good parts!

    The movie is good, or at least I have really good childhood memories of it. It's been a few years, but as I remember it, the quality of the production is not great, but the casting and spirit of it are spot on.

    There is a stage version by the author. You can see bits of it on Google Books; it's the first result for a search on "Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Since the Beth character narrates both the book and the play, a lot of it is pulled directly from the book.

  9. Elsa,
    Sigh. It's going to be one of those days. My apologies - it won't happen again. At least not until Bethany gets her own blog.

  10. No apology needed, Nancy! Actually, now that we live 2000 miles apart and twin-confusion is no longer a daily occurrence, it's a delight to get mixed up with my sister.

  11. Aaahh. I agree! Any books by Tasha Tudor!

  12. Thanks, Nancy. No littles here to read these to any longer but may I share some with my little group of Moms?

  13. @ Laurie:
    Of course! I wish I could sit in on your "little group of Moms", too!

  14. Nancy, nearly all of these are on our Christmas shelf as well, even some of the same editions. So that first photo, is it really of your children? How did you do that, you clever girl? I will have to look up that illustrator Liz Zwerger and the book by Opal Wheeler. This is my favorite kind of post dontcha know!

  15. Thanks so much for this list! I'm going to be ordering some of them from the library.

    Annie Kate

    And yes, we do also do formal nature drawings and so forth, but it never seems to have the same results as just hanging out outside. Funny, isn't it?

  16. We have Christmas in Noisy Village too!

    Have a merry Christmas--enjoy your family time!