“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” – G.K. Chesterton, English writer
“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” – Eric Sevareid, American journalist
The Night Before Christmas: An Art Lesson
Becker, Helaine. Deck the Halls: a Canadian Christmas Carol. Toronto: North Winds Press, 2016.
A rollicking Canadianized version with a simple piano transcription at the very end. The full page-illustrations by Werner Zimmerman are full of details sure to be enjoyed by readers four to ten years old.
Becker, Helaine. We Wish You a Merry Christmas: A Canadian Carol. Toronto: North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2021.
Brown, Marc. Arthur’s Christmas. Boston: Little, Brown, c1984.
Brown, Marc. Arthur’s Perfect Christmas. Boston: Little, Brown, 2000.
Capote, Truman. A Christmas Memory. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, , c1984.
Cole, Brock. The Money We’ll Save. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011.
Cummings, E. E. Little Tree. New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 2001.
Inspired by the poem by E.E. Cummings, Chris Raschka illustrates and and tells the story of a small tree that finds its dream comes true when it becomes a beloved Christmas tree.
Cummings, E.E. Little Tree. Shaftesbury, Dorset : Element Children’s Books, c1999.
Quiet gentle illustrations by Mary Claire Smith. A lovely chance to talk about how illustrations affect the mood of a story.
dePaola, Tomie. The Legend of the Poinsettia. New York : Putnam, 1994.
DiCamillo, Kate. Great Joy. Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2007.
“Just before Christmas, when Frances sees a sad-eyed organ grinder and his monkey performing near her apartment, she cannot stop thinking about them, wondering where they go at night, and wishing she could do something to help.” – CIP.
Donaldson, Julia. The Christmas Pine. London: Alison Green Books, 2021.
A pine tree grows and grows deep in the woods until one day it is chosen to be a special gift: a Christmas tree for the people of London. Originally written as a poem to commemorate Norway’s annual gift to the people of England to thank them for their support during World War 2.
Donaldson, Julia. Stick Man. New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008.
Have fun finding all the subtle allusions to the deep meaning of the traditional Christmas story!
“Julia Donaldson powerfully portrays the meaning of Christmas in her picture book Stick Man (Arthur A. Levine, 2008). In the story, the Stick Man is living in a tree house. Then a dog plays a trick on him and everyone starts treating him like a nonliving thing: a pen, a stick, a twig… Finally, Santa Claus comes and rescues him and helps him get back home. Similarly, in the original story of Christmas, Adam and Eve are living in the Garden of Eden. Then the snake tricks Eve into eating an apple that god has forbidden, and all the men and woman are punished, until Jesus comes and forgives them.
“In my own life, there have been times I have felt dead and other times when I felt fully alive. For example, I felt dead when I was injured and when I had to watch what my soccer team or basketball team were doing instead of playing with them. I felt lonely; nobody paid any attention to me. But when I came back and did something spectacular, I felt fully alive again, and full of absolute happiness.
“While Donaldson’s silly story, Stick Man, is for young children, I think it also requires deep thinking and can be appreciated by all readers.” (Eric in grade eight)
Write your own response:
“Julia Donaldson powerfully portrays the meaning of Christmas in her picture book Stick Man (Arthur A. Levine, 2008)….
“In my own life, …
Dunrea, Olivier. A Christmas Tree for Pyn. Philomel, 2011.
Falconer, Ian. Olivia Helps with Christmas. New York: Atheneum, 2007.
Isadora, Rachel. 12 Days of Christmas. New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010.
Jane, Pamela. Little Elfie One. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2015.
“Elves, snowmen, stars, and reindeer cavort at the North Pole on Christmas Eve, introducing the numbers one through ten.” – CIP. A joyous adaptation of the famous song “Over in the Meadow” illustrated by Jane Manning. The style and size of the font match the quirky illustrations sure to be enjoyed by readers – and listeners – three to nine years old.
Kusugak, Michael Arvaarluk. Baseball Bats for Christmas. Toronto : Annick Press, 1990.
Moore, Clement. The Night Before Christmas. Illustrated by Tomie de Paola. New York : Holiday House, 2010, c1980.
Moore, Clement. The Night Before Christmas. Retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora. New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009.
Ohi, Ruth. Fox and Squirrel, the Best Christmas Ever. Toronto: North Winds Press, 2016.
What makes a great Christmas? Snow! Presents! Fancy food! And decorations, of course. Two friends go for a walk in the woods to find more decorations in this cheerful picture book with full-page water colour illustrations. Highly recommended for children 3 to 6 years old.
P.S. You, yourself, might like to take a nature walk with a friend afterwards.
Oppenheim, Joanne. The miracle of the First Poinsettia : a Mexican Christmas Story. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot, 2003.
“A retelling of a Mexican legend that describes the origin of the Poinsettia plant. In this version, a young girl has nothing to give the Christ child, but when the weeds she carries in her hands miraculously transform into red flowers, she now has the perfect gift.” – CIP.
Say, Allen. Tree of Cranes. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.
“A Japanese boy learns of Christmas when his mother decorates a pine tree with paper cranes.” – CIP.
Seuss, Dr. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! New York : Random House, c1985.
Shannon, David. It’s Christmas, David! New York : Blue Sky Press, 2010.
Templeman, Anne. A West Coast Christmas. Vancouver : Whitecap Books, 1999.
Thomas, Dylan. A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2004.
Thompson, Lauren. The Christmas Magic. New York: Scholastic Press, 2009.
When Santa feels his whiskers tingle, he knows the Christmas magic is about to begin. He prepares all the gifts, readies his sleigh, and calls for his reindeer. It is time to fly!
This exquisite picture book – captivatingly illustrated by Jon J. Muth – is highly recommended for all ages.
Van Allsburg, Chris. The Polar Express. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
Wallace, Ian. The Man Who Walked the Earth. Toronto : Groundwood Books, 2003.
Yolen, Jane. Under the Star: a Christmas Counting Story. Toronto : Key Porter Kids, 2009.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens, author of ‘A Christmas Carol’
NOVELS and NOVELLAS
Avi. The Christmas Rat. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002, c2000.
Eleven-year-old Eric is home alone while his parents are at work during the Christmas holidays when a pest exterminator arrives and recruits him to help rid the apartment building of rats. But events rapidly turn sinister and Eric ends up risking his life to rescue a rat from the mysterious Anje Gabrail. This unique story will appeal to readers who like being left with a mystery to solve for themselves.
Bunting, Eve. The In-Between Days. New York : HarperCollins, 1994.
Eleven-year-old George is not fond of his father’s new girlfriend. Maybe he can get rid of her before Christmas!
Carlson, Natalie Savage. The Family Under the Bridge. New York : HarperTrophy, 1989, c1958.
Couloumbis, Audrey. Jake. New York : Random House, 2010.
Ten-year-old Jake’s grandfather comes to care for him after his mother breaks her leg. How will Christmas be joyous with this gruff old man in charge of everything? (Single-parent families; Grandfathers; Accidents; Hospitals; Maryland; Trust)
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Mankato, MN : Creative Editions, 2015, c1990.
MacLachlan, Patrica. The True Gift: A Christmas Story. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009.
When Lily and Liam go to stay in the country with their grandparents for Christmas, they discover White Cow forlornly standing alone in a snowy field. Her companion, Rosie the donkey, has moved to another farm. Compassionately, Liam sets aside the books he’d planned to read and resolutely sets out to find a new companion for sad White Cow. All MacLachlan’s novels are heartwarming, but this one is truly a treasure, perfect for reading aloud or sharing with a friend. Recommended for readers 7 years old and up.
Moser, Barry. Good and Perfect Gifts : an illustrated retelling of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Boston : Little, Brown, c1997.
“Based on the classic story in which a husband and wife sacrifice treasured possessions in order to buy each other Christmas presents.” – CIP.
Paulsen, Gary. A Christmas Sonata. New York : Delacorte Press, c1992.
A young boy spends Christmas of 1943 with his mother and dying cousin in northern Minnesota while his father is overseas fighting in the war.
Robinson, Barbara. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. New York: HarperTrophy, 1988, c1972.
Stilton, Geronimo. A Very Merry Christmas. New York : Scholastic, 2007.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. The Long Winter. New York : HarperTrophy, 1971.
Laura and her family struggle to survive the winter of 1880-81 in Dakota Territory. Snowstorms isolate them and their food supply runs dangerously low. Nevertheless, Christmas is creatively celebrated in this novel based on the author’s own childhood.
dePaola, Tomie. Christmas Remembered. New York : G. P. Putnam Sons, 2006.
The well-known author and illustrator shares 15 of his own memories of Christmas in this lovely collection which will appeal to both children and adults.
Hendrix, John. Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014.
McCutcheon, John. Christmas in the Trenches. Atlanta : Peachtree, 2006.
Murphy, Jim. Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting. New York : Scholastic Press, 2009.
Wood, Douglas. Franklin and Winston: a Christmas that Changed the World. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011.
“When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.”
Jean Fritz, American author