Some of my favorite memories, and probably yours too, from the holidays involve stories–stories read to me, stories I’ve read. So many of them are experiences in and of themselves, adding so much to the holiday experience. Here are my Top 10 for children:
1) How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss– For the Whos in Whoville, there may be no Christmas with the Grinch but for us, how would it be Christmas without him? A classic tale of a selfish Grinch who tries to destroy Christmas and instead discovers the meaning of joyful giving and celebration.
2) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson – a personal favorite, the 1972 classic tells the story of six misbehaving Herdman kids — the “worst kids in the entire history of the world” the narrator tells us — as they take over a church pageant and reinterpret the story of Christmas. With its mix of outrageous moments, hilarious hijinks and profound surprises, parents will love this read as much as kids. It’s one I don’t miss each year.
3) The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore – There are many version of this, but it’s always been one of my favorites. Told by a mouse in a house, it describes the familiar sensations, thoughts and imagined moments of Christmas associated with Santa’s late night visit.
4) The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans – written by the author for his daughter’s, this moving story of a widow and the young family became a success before it was even published — a message of miracles, hope, and healing for people throughout the world.
5) The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Jan Brett – I’ve always loved the silly imagery of this song. It’s a crazy lot of mixed gifts this lover sends and a fun read to share with your kids in the picture book adaptation.
6) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – It wouldn’t be Christmas around our house without the miserly Scrooge either. This delightful tale may be too complicated for younger readers but parents will love reading it and older kids can pitch in. This one’s great to divide up over a few readings, too.
7) Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien – Written for the author’s son John at age three in 1920, the first Father Christmas letter arrived addressed from the North Pole. The tradition continued for twenty years through other children, written in shaky script and illustrated with paintings and sketches. Fans of The Lord Of The Rings will recognize familiar elements including a goblin attack, and Father Christmas’ elf-secretary Ilbereth.
8 ) The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojcioechowski with illustrations by PJ Lynch – delightful tale of a master woodcarver who is always alone and never smiles since he lost his wife and child. But then a widow and her young son make a gentle request and the result is a moving, lyrical tale about a Christmas miracle. A modern classic.
9) The Teddy Bear by David McPhail – I hadn’t read this in a long time but rediscovered it when I was researching this. Aboiut a boy who loses his best friend, a prized teddy bear, only to find it again with a homeless man. In the process, the little boy comes to grasp the meaning of compassion.
10) Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Book Ever – I don’t know about you but my childhood wouldn’t have been the same without Lowly Worm and his friends in Busytown. In this tale, Richard Scarry captures holiday cheer in a series of delightful and brightly illustrated stories featuring his most popular characters, including Huckle Cat and lovable Lowly Worm. Each small tale sparkles but the book also offers songs, games, a list of Christmas words, and instructions for making a great gift for Grandma! Great for younger kids but it’ll make parents smile from memories too.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s science fiction, fantasy and humor books, short stories and articles. A frequent contributor to blogs like SFSignal, Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and To Be Read, he also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat under the hashtag #sffwrtcht on Twitter and blogs about writing and creativity on his own blog at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net/blog. Connect With Bryan On Google+