“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ~ Charles Dickens
Mr P adores Christmas. Perhaps not as much as his brother, but it’s a big deal. I have learned to enjoy it, but feel that it’s much better when there are children around. Their excitement about everything makes it so special. Waking up early to see if Father Christmas has ‘been’ and if he drank his Bailey’s (I’m sure the reindeer do most of the steering). Children love giving presents; they love opening presents. I think they also know that everyone is happy and it rubs off on them… until mid-afternoon when we’re all a little bit tired and full of food!
But every family has its own rituals. We used to open one present on Christmas Eve and watch Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas and The Snowman. And we’d usually read a Christmas Story. I tend to give a lot of books to my friends’ children for Christmas, so these recommendations are a combination of Christmas stories from my childhood, and those I’ve shared with the younger generation over the past few years.
Can It Be True?
Many people tell the story of the Nativity at Christmas, and my family was no different. But we had Susan Hill’s retelling with its beautiful poetry and exquisite illustrations, that made Christmas Eve feel like such a special occasion. It brings the story to life for all the animals on Earth, from the fox to the rabbit and the cat to the shrew.
Christmas EveCan it be true? ~ Susan Hill
Twelve of the clock
When they came to the stable and saw.
“It is true! It is true!”
And knelt down.
It’s a short poem but it still remains engraved in my memory. The book had gold lettering and images and to a small child, was magical.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
How many of us learned this poem as a child? Also called A Visit from St Nicholas, the poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822. I’d always assumed the author was unknown (great quiz question right there…), and actually one of the conditions of its publication was anonymity!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,‘Twas the Night Before Christmas ~ Clement Clarke Moore
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow…
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
This poem itself is synonymous with Christmas and is referenced in multiple films and books. It also conjures up the traditional picture we associate with Father Christmas (or St Nicholas / Santa Claus / Sinterklaas). It’s a great story to tell on Christmas Eve to make sure the children go to bed early!
I’m a pretty big McFly fan so was intrigued when Tom Fletcher published a Christmas book for children. I bought it for my godson without knowing much about it, but I was told in no uncertain terms that it is brilliant (he even asked for a Christmasaurus costume for his birthday).
William is a boy who uses a wheelchair. He’s perfectly happy until a new girl joins his class and he starts to feel different from his friends. But then Father Christmas accidentally gives him a real dinosaur in his stocking (instead of a toy) and suddenly, his world is turned upside-down and he has some incredible adventures!
This is a lovely Christmas story that teaches children that it’s OK to be different and actually, that’s what makes us who we are. It also discusses the importance of friendship, family and believing in yourself and putting others first.
Belief is the most powerful magic there is. Believing is the only magic that makes the utterly impossible completely possible, and the undoubtedly undoable undeniable doable!The Christmasaurus ~ Tom Fletcher
It’s well-written (lots of Dahl-esque words and phrases) and a good one for kids to read to their parents throughout December (a chapter a night) to get everyone ready for Christmas!
A Christmas Carol
Mr P’s absolute favourite. While we grew up watching the Muppets’ version with Michael Caine, he is a purist. He loves Dickens’ original story and can almost quote the whole tale, so it’s become a tradition that he reads it aloud on Christmas Eve.
Ebenezeer Scrooge hates Christmas. It’s a day of frivolity that prevents people working; instead they waste their time and money by having fun with their families. But on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts and he’s forced to look at himself differently and see the true meaning of Christmas, before it’s too late.
Every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.A Christmas Carol ~ Charles Dickens
To me this book is the epitome of a Victorian Christmas. There’s snow, roasted goose and parlour games. But it also reminds you that you shouldn’t take anything for granted and to make sure you’re looking out for those less fortunate than yourself. It’s a timeless classic and I still think that A Muppet Christmas Carol is the best adaptation so far!
Which Christmas books do you remember from your childhood? What are your kids’ favourite Christmas stories?
If you want to buy any books for Christmas, please support local book shops and buy from https://uk.bookshop.org/paradise_library