Celebrating the Season through Literature †

Dec 06, 2019 | Posted by Jennifer


December is a busy month for pretty much everyone. After all, with its arrival come the additional tasks of decorating, baking, and shopping to prepare for Christmas as well as the pleasures of Christmas parties and programs. I find that it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed. In my house, if mama’s overwhelmed, the rest of the family is as well. One of the ways I have found to slow down the season and relax is to spend dedicated time reading aloud to my family. Reading books that celebrate the season help our entire family to slow down, breathe deeply, and reflect on why we observe this day called Christmas.

My children are all grown now, with only my youngest, a senior in high school, still living at home. But our tradition continues nevertheless. After all, classic children’s books are not just for children; they are for everyone! As I was pulling out our now well-worn and much-loved Christmas books, I thought you might like to know which ones we enjoy. Many of the books I personally recommend reflect on the best gift: Jesus’s birth. Some of the books are about Christmas traditions or winter. All of the books are classics that will stand the test of time. I will do my best to categorize them according to “listening age” to make them easier for you to decide if a book is right for your family, but these are my personal impressions, so feel free to preview for your family’s personal preferences.


Picture Books

  • A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown—This book is dripping with five-senses words and beautiful illustrations. It’s a feast for the eyes and the ears.
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats—This 1963 Caldecott Medal winner shares the joy of a child’s first snowfall of the season.
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore—This classic poem, originally named “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” is brought to life by the beautiful illustrations.
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett—I grew up in a Scandinavian community, and Brett’s beautiful illustrations remind me of my childhood.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs—My children loved hearing me share this heartwarming story with them every year.
  • Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki—What could possibly be Santa’s favorite story? Why, the story of the first Christmas, of course!
  • Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco—I love Polacco’s work, so much so that I include her storybook Thank you, Mr. Falker in my literary analysis classes


Short Stories

  • “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas—Perhaps my all-time favorite read-aloud in the bunch, I read this story aloud to my students on the last day of classes before the Christmas break. It is filled chock full with literary techniques such as five-senses words, repetition, metaphor, alliteration, and onomatopoeia, just to name a few. It’s one of the few that I prefer to read aloud using a free PDF containing no images because I believe it enhances the richness of the language, but if you prefer to use an illustrated book, I suggest this one.
  • “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry—Hearkening back to a simpler time, it’s a beautiful tale of love and sacrifice told with Henry’s tell-tale irony.


Novels and Novellas

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens—This classic tale introduced readers to Scrooge, Marley, Bob Crachit, and of course, Tiny Tim.
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson—So funny, but at the same time it has an important message to share. My family loves this book!
  • Where Love Is There God Is Also by Leo Tolstoy—Translated from Russian, this short book shares one man’s experience of showing charity and kindness to others.
  • Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide—This book is the first in a series of three that is meant to be started the first Sunday in Advent.
  • The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder—Another “Advent-styled” novel, this book features twenty-four chapters that take the reader backwards through time and history and geography to the birth of Christ.

Since I have begun writing this post, I have had friends share with me some of their favorite Christmas books. I learned some new titles that I can’t wait to explore. How about you? Do you have some favorite Christmas books that I haven’t mentioned? Please share them in the comments. I hope you are able to enjoy plenty of read-aloud time during this special season.


† Contains distinctly Christian content


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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