Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Christmas Reading List

One of my favorite Christmas memories took place just a few years ago. It was a snowy night and we found ourselves at Cole’s place for a holiday party.

After a night of games and treats, we sat in his living room taking a breather. We sat around and looked at each other debating what we should do when Cole stood up and grabbed a basket between the television stand and the fireplace.

“Who wants to hear a story?” Cole asked, pulling a book from the basket.

None of us were quite sure what to make of the question. All of us were high school graduates and some of us college graduates, so the concept of Cole reading us a story seemed slightly foreign. In an instant, though, we’d warmed to the idea of being kids again and he started reading.

redrangerbreathedWe sat there as he read to us Red Ranger Came Calling which details the story of a boy calling himself “The Red Ranger of Mars.” It’s not your same old rehashed imagery or story. It appeals to even the cynics who have a hard time getting into the holidays. That night through the amazing illustrations and lively conversations, we learned that “Sometimes folks need something to believe in” and “Sometimes folks need someone to believe in them.”

Sometimes we do need to take a step back and think like kids again.

In the holiday spirit, I have collected some of my favorite kids Christmas books:

1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

grinch Standard holiday fare. We all know the story and have it engrained in our minds by the Boris Karloff-narrated, Chuck Jones-animated version of the story. It’s a classic, so I’ll leave it at that. (No comment on the movie adaptation…).

2. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Night Before Christmas 3 Again, not much in the way of originality here. It’s a classic story we all know. A poem approaching it’s bicentennial, it was originally written by Henry Livingston, Jr. and later revised by Clemente Clarke Moore. There are plenty of interesting and original takes and illustrations on the story out there. Take a look. I've been told the Tasha Tudor-illustrated version is a good one.

3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Polar Express

I remember this one always flying off the shelves in the elementary school library. Everybody wanted to take it home so their parents could read it to them. Probably appealing for its illustrations and the concept, which some train companies actually copy.

4. A Wish for Wings That Work by Berke Breathed

Wings That Work Breathed also penned and illustrated the aforementioned Red Ranger Came Calling as well as the comic strip Bloom County. He has a knack for humoring adults and children alike and getting at some pretty deep stuff just by wowing you with some quick with and a few strokes of the brush.

5. The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jack Kent

12 days of christmas This is a hilarious illustrated representation of the song. It takes the song quite literally and I haven’t seen this book since I was eight years old. It disappeared from the library and I never saw it after my first read. Someday, I will spontaneously buy this book after a bad day.

6. Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little house Christmas Confession time: I love Laura Ingalls Wilder. Every night I would read a few chapters of one of the Little House books to my mother from the age of seven.

7. You Are Special by Max Lucado

You Are Special This is just an affirming book that shows that being ourselves is what really matters. I suppose I’ve always associated it with Christmas because it was part of a Sunday School Christmas lesson.

No matter who you are, how you were made (or how you believe you were made), or how people treat you, there are good people out there that love you in this world. There is no greater Christmas lesson than that.

Here are some other suggestions from friends:

Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Christmas
(Both by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner)

A Child's Christmas in Wales
Dylan Thomas

Merry Christmas, Ernest & Celestine
Gabrielle Vincent

A snowman named just Bob and A snowgirl named just Sue
Mark Kimball Moulton

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Susan Wojciechowski

Santa Claustrophobia
Mike Reiss


Andy said...

"You Are Special" is a wonderful book. I agree, it's probably not a Christmas book, but I always associate it with the holidays. I love that story. I need to get myself a copy of it.

One of my favorite Christmas reads is "The Forgotten Carols". I don't know if you've ever read that, or heard the music, but it's a great story of a woman who is caught up in the world during the holidays and how she finds the true meaning of Christmas.

Cole said...

You forgot "Mr. Willobee's Christmas Tree" by Robert Berry! I'm sure that's one we read that night.

Merry Christmas, GMB!!! -- Cole

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