Monthly in The Book Nook, Erin Newcomb offers inspiration on blending children’s literature with life and family.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Hudson Valley. Each evening as the sun sets, my neighborhood transforms into a sparkling display of holiday magic, complete with more reindeer and Santa Clauses than I can count. The Family Friendly Hudson Valley calendar is packed with festive events for each weekend this month, and no doubt your own calendars are filling up with fun, too. In the hustle and bustle of the season, why not take some quiet time at home to enjoy these classic Christmas stories.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
Read this story of yuletide transformation and quirky, lovable characters, and watch the animated version (narrated to perfection by Boris Karloff) on ABC and ABC Family.
- The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol, by Tomie dePaola
Read or sing along with dePaola’s story of the animals who gave gifts to the Christ Child. Complete with sheet music at the back of the book, this tale can bring a nativity set to life as children recreate the role of the donkey, “shaggy and brown.”
- Christmas in the Manger, written by Nola Buck and illustrated by Felicia Bond
This charming board book recreates the nativity story for the smallest readers in rhymes that highlight key symbols of the season. Older readers can memorize the poem and watch it come to life in a local live nativity display, or simply appreciate the symbolism of putting that star or angel atop the tree.
- The Nutcracker, written by Janet Shulman and illustrated by Renee Graef
This story of tradition, sacrifice, and love comes to life in Shulman’s retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman’s beloved fairytale. Watch the ballet with costumes by Maurice Sendak or simply bask in the beauty of Tchaikovsky’s score (excerpts included with this text).
- The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore
Share the poem that defined our modern-day Santa Claus as you set out cookies for that “jolly old elf.” Listen closely for the faint sound of jingle bells and be sure to watch the film version on ABC Family.
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry
This rhyming story shows how Mr. Willowby passes on the joy of the season, little by little; read it with friends or loved ones as you decorate the tree or distribute gifts, and then, pass it on.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Laurel Long
With this lavishly-illustrated rendition of the classic carol, you can finally learn all the words and sing along, page after stunning page.
- The Wild Christmas Reindeer, by Jan Brett
You know Dasher and Dancer, but Brett introduces readers to eight other reindeer with names and illustrations inspired by Ukranian folklore. Readers will love getting to know new magical reindeer and can still remember that “most famous reindeer of all” by watching the 1964 film here.
- Christmas in the Big Woods, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and illustrated by Renee Graef
Step back from the frenzy of the holidays and enjoy this joyful glimpse into a simpler season with the Ingalls family.
- A Christmas Carol: A Colors Primer, written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
Introduce the smallest readers to colors and the infamous Mr. Scrooge; then watch one of the many delightful family versions of Dickens’ tale of redemption with Mickey, Disney, or the Muppets.
And may your holiday season be anything but a humbug.
About the Author: Erin Newcomb loves books of all sorts. When she’s not reading and playing with her two daughters, she enjoys teaching literature courses at SUNY New Paltz. She holds a PhD in literacy education and is working toward a world record for number of interlibrary loans. You can catch up with her on Twitter @ErinWyble and on her blog PhD Mama.