Life Learning Through Christmas Literature

Welcome to Day 1 of my series, Life Learning Through Christmas,  as part of iHN’s  5 Days of Christmas hop. Today is all about Christmas literature.

Christmas picture books abound, but when I think of Christmas literature, there are a few must-read titles.  So if you have little time for reading this season, here are my top “must read” picks.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Of course, this is at the top of my list. This novel permeates our everyday conversation, how else will they know what it means for someone to be a “Scrooge”? Shouldn’t they know of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit? An excellent read-aloud that contrasts miserliness with generosity and negativity with optimism.

There are so many movie adaptations worth watching and a favorite we enjoyed last year was the Muppets. I know that sounds corny, but it’s quite good, especially for young children.

You could also listen to this audio version by StoryNory while coloring one of these coloring books. We always love the Dover Coloring Books, but this other version would be wonderful for an older child or adult.

This is an interesting piece by CBS Sunday Morning about Dickens but is for adult or teen viewing. It does discuss his affair but is quite informative.

Here’s another video about Dickens’s life and work. This would be very good for an older child or teen. There’s nothing inappropriate, but it’s somewhat long and full of information.

Reading A Christmas Carol and learning about Dickens could lead to some fantastic conversations about child labor, the industrial revolution, debtors prisons, and even indentured servitude.

Additional Resources:

The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry (William Sydney Porter)

A short, simple story that conveys such love in difficult times. If you haven’t read this before, I won’t give a spoiler, but this is a story that makes you gasp when you realize what has happened. My girls love to hear this one each Christmas.

There aren’t as many resources available for this title, but who cares; I love this story! You could discuss American short stories and O’Henry’s other title, The Ransom of Red Chief.

Additional Resources:

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Match Girl is such a sad, but beautiful, story. If you have sensitive children, this might not be suitable until they’re older. I love it and feel it is one of those stories that you really must know. Be sure to have some tissues nearby.

This biography by Jane Yolen would be an excellent introduction to Andersen’s life and his many works. I think it would be very interesting to read his original works and compare them to the Disney versions. Quite a difference!

How have I never seen this musical of his life with Danny Kaye? I’m going to be ordering this one.
Additional Resources:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

One of our favorite poems and I highly recommend this edition which is beautifully illustrated by Susan Jeffers. It is such a peaceful, beautiful poem. You can even hear it from Robert Frost’s own mouth here.

To further study Robert Frost, you can read Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost and watch this short biography about his life.

Additional Resources:

A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore

Better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this is a poem every Christmas celebrating child should hear.  I try to read this every Christmas Eve, but I’m sure I’ve failed at times (I have given birth in December!).

We often forget how much this poem contributes to our Christmas culture, but how else would we know the names of Santa’s reindeer!

Additional Resources:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! By Dr. Seuss

Not as old as some of these, but a classic. My children could listen to it over and over again. Our favorite movie is the original animated version with Boris Karloff; the song is as much a classic as the book!

Additional Resources:

Hope you found some ideas to enjoy with Christmas literature. The holidays are the perfect time to slow down and do things differently.

Other Life Learning through Christmas Posts

Life Learning through Christmas History

Joyful Learning with Christmas Movies

Christmas Art and Handicrafts

Exploring Science and Nature through Christmas

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Life Learning through Christmas Literature

5 Days of Christmas

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