12 books of Christmas

Career & Education

12 books of Christmas

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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The gift of reading is undoubtedly one of the best gifts a parent can give to a child, moreso at Christmastime, a season so rich with wonder, excitement, religious themes, and folklore.

The Career & Education team has compiled a list of some of our personal favourite titles for you to read with and to your children during the holidays. They range from silly to serious, but they are all guaranteed to keep your kids entertained in the spirit of Christmas.


1 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Titled The Worst Kids in the World in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, this book tells the story of Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie, and Gladys, six delinquent children from the Herdman family who engaged in misfit behaviour for their age such as smoking, cussing, drinking jug wine, and shoplifting. They go to church for the first time after being told that the church offers snacks. Despite protests from other church members, they are given roles in the Sunday school's Christmas play in which they tell the Christmas story in an unconventional fashion.

2 Madeline's Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans

It's the night before Christmas and everyone is sick in bed. All except brave Madeline, who is up and about and feeling just fine. Taking care of 11 little girls and Miss Clavel is hard work, but Madeline finds help from a magical merchant peddling flying carpets door-to-door. Now the girls are going on a Christmas journey that will surely make them forget their sniffles and sneezes.

As is customary with other titles in the Madeline series, this book is loaded with funny rhymes and is bound to elicit some laughter from your little one.

3 How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

This classic Dr Seuss story was originally published in 1957, but its message continues to be relevant in an era defined by growing commercialisation of Christmas. Set in Whoville with all the Whos, this book is a great way to remind readers young and old of the true meaning of Christmas. With a heart “two sizes too small”, the Grinch steals all of the Whos' gifts, decorations and food. Those Whos, however, aren't phased, and Christmas goes on anyway. Their simple, yet still joyful celebration helps the green guy see the error of his Grinchy ways. He gives it all back when he hears the joy-filled voices of the gift-empty town.

The story is complemented by whimsical images and hilarious rhymes.

4 Merry Christmas, Mouse by Laura Numeroff

With a holiday-themed approach to counting, mouse decorates the Christmas tree with a fun game. The book follows the mouse as he decorates the Christmas tree, 1 star… 2 angels… etc… It's perfect to read and then count the ornaments on your own tree.

5 The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honour recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen's tale into a child plucked straight from America's melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous — a circumstance as familiar in Andersen's day as it is in our own. Already shivering from cold and early hypothermia, and walking barefoot after having lost her too large slippers, the girl lights matches to warm herself. She eventually runs out, but fearing being beaten by her father, she stays in the cold and finds a bitter end.

6 The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Pure magic fills the pages of the Caldecott-winning The Polar Express as it captures every child's dreams of meeting Santa Claus. It tells the tale of a boy who is whisked away by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. He travels on a train with other children to the North Pole where he gets to make his Christmas wish. When he chooses a bell from Santa's sleigh that only those who believe can hear, he learns a powerful message about keeping the spirit of Christmas alive and what happens when you don't.

7 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The treatment of the poor and the ability of a self-interested man to redeem himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the themes of this story. Ebenezer Scrooge cares about money and money. Oh, also money. He's a miserable man who can't stand Christmas, until he gets a visit from three spirits who show him what really matters.

8 The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore/Henry Livingston Jr

This is the time-honoured story about the anticipation of St Nick's arrival. Written in the early 19th century, it is one of the oldest and most popular Christmas poems ever.

9 A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M Schultz

Christmas is almost here, which means ice skating, Christmas carols, and sparkly lights everywhere — even on Snoopy's doghouse! Everyone is enjoying the holiday celebrations except Charlie Brown. In a retelling of the beloved Christmas TV special, Charlie Brown tries to feel better about Christmas by directing the annual Christmas play. When everything falls apart, he wonders if anyone really knows what Christmas is all about.

10 The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert

A Nordic tale in the tradition of The Snowman, The Polar Express, and many other books by Jan Brett will have readers of all ages believing in the magic of Christmas. It tells the story of a little girl named Anja who wanted to be one of Santa's elves. She leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbour prepare for the holiday, then straps on her skis and heads out into the snowy landscape. A menagerie of winter animals help her make her way to Santa.

11 The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

Distressed because she has no other gift to offer baby Jesus, Lucida carries into the church an armful of weeds, each of which suddenly becomes “tipped with a flaming red star'' — marking the miraculous blooming of the first poinsettias. Called la flor de la Nochebuena — the flower of the Holy Night — in Mexico, the flower becomes the symbol of a little girl's unselfish gift.

12 The 12 Days of Christmas by Jan Brett

This is a great book to read whether your children are familiar with the song or not.

A centuries-old favourite holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas was one of the first to celebrate the secular tradition of gift-giving. This sumptuously illustrated version features not only the gifts of a suitor to his true love, but a loving family's Christmas preparations, how to say “Merry Christmas” in 12 different languages, and a vast array of charming woodland animals.

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