Monday, December 24, 2012

Wonderful Christmas Eve Reading: Children's Books

My children are too old for children's books, but then again, these stories are so wonderful and nostalgic that I still like to read them, so I assume my children will love them always, as well.

For a lovely pictorial examination of Christmas Eve (each with a moving story accompanying it), consider reading one of these, alone or with a child upon your lap.  They have always made Christmas special in our house.

First, appropriate to the day, is Margaret Wise Brown's gentle On Christmas Eve, which captures the special magic of Christmas for three children who live in a big mysterious house where the attic is cold but hearts are warm, and the tree is . . . spectacular!

One of my all-time favorites and an example of the most beautiful Christmas prose ever written, Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales is filled with his own special memories, and it famously begins, "One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." 

Anyone who has read Arthur or watched the wonderful Arthur series on PBS knows how much fun this aardvark boy and his family can be--and Arthur's Christmas is a special experience with beautiful full-color pictures and a story by the great Marc Brown.

Carl's Christmas is a wonderful adventure. Carl, the beautiful rottweiler dog, is not just a babysitter, but a companion who leads the baby into a wonderful Christmas adventure while the parents are away.  Very sweet--with practically no text at all, it tells a powerful story.
The Snow Lambs also features a wonderful dog--Bess the sheepdog--who disappears in a terrible storm to find a lost lamb. Everyone is very worried; will Bess make it back?

This story has a sort of Away in the Manger motif, as the animals in the stable wonder who is approaching their humble barn on such a cold night.  A lovely animal tale.

Toot and Puddle, that irrepressible pig duo, are separated for the holiday, and it just won't be the same if they can't spend it together.  Can they find happiness in Christmas without each other--and with a terrible snowstorm?

These are just some of the many wonderful Christmas books that sit on our children's book shelf.  We'll never give these away, but pass them down to grandchildren who will appreciate them just as our children did.

Merry reading, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happiest New Year!  May all of your resolutions come to pass.


Sheila Connolly said...

One of my treasures is a vinyl album of my grandmother reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales." It was a promotional holiday gift in the 1950s, and it's on translucent red vinyl. (Which reminds me--must get in transferred to a digital format!)

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I have a vinyl album of Dylan Thomas himself reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales" in his deep, rolling voice--sheer music.

Julia Buckley said...

Beautiful, Sheila and Liz! I show the PBS video to my class every year.

Sheila, when you figure out how to transfer, let me know. I have cassette tapes of my babies' voices that I'd like to make more permanent.


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