These days there are too many of them to count. They fill the stands, spill over the bookcase shelves and festive displays at Waterstones – some with furry Santa hand puppets cleverly sewn through their middles, others with pop up presents and Rudolf noses that sing carols when you press them. We are most definitely spoilt for choice. But there is something magical about the old Christmas stories for children – the ones that have been read by the excited eyes of many generations; the ones that already have, and will continue to stand the test of time.
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
This remains my all-time favourite Xmas story which has been presented in many different forms on stage and screen. Mr. Scrooge will always remain in readers’ memories as the stingy, mean and grumpy old man who decides to turn his life around after a visit from three very different ghosts. It gets to the true message of Christmas, which is about focusing on other people, rather than just yourself – and the moral teaching within it will continue to ring true!
The Little Match Girl – Hans Christian Andersen
I cried when my dad first read this to me aged 5, and I still cry when I re-read it now! A sad story that makes you think about those for whom Christmas isn’t a joyful time. The match-stick girl is freezing in the street but is afraid to go home fearing that her dad will beat her for not selling any matches. She tries to warm herself up with heat from the lighted match and sees visions of a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. Eventually her grandmother comes down from heaven to collect her, where she will no longer be hungry or poor.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss
A hilarious rhymed book from the author of The Cat in the Hat which criticises the commercial nature of Christmas. The Grinch is a bitter creature with a heart ‘two sizes too small’, who decides to ruin Christmas for the inhabitants of Whoville by stealing their presents, Christmas tree and log fire. But he learns from his neighbours that ‘Christmas means a little bit more’ than just the material things – it’s about laughter, joy and spending time together.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus – L. Frank Baum
A lot of children want to know (I certainly did) – where does Santa Claus come from? This book, written by the author of The Wizard of Oz, gives you the answer. It tells us that Santa was a baby found abandoned in The Forest of Burzee. He was taken in and raised by fairies. Upon reaching young adulthood, the fairies decide that he must see how other mortals live – he experiences war, brutality, poverty and child cruelty. Soon he becomes known for his kind acts towards children and his fame spreads far and wide.
The Night Before Xmas – Clement Moore
The best known Christmas rhyme ever written – still popular almost 200 years on. On Christmas Eve night, while his wife and children sleep, a man wakes up as he hears noise outdoors. Looking out the window, he sees St. Nicholas in a sleigh flying through the air and landing on the roof. He enters the house through the chimney, carrying a sack of toys with him. The man watches him filling his children’s Christmas stockings and laughing as he
wishes everyone Merry Christmas.
This is by no means a complete list. Do you have any of your own favourite classics that you would add?