Monday, December 12, 2016

Top 10 Christmas Books from My Childhood

Every December my mom brings half-a-dozen bins of Christmas decorations up from the basement. Cracking open the first lid releases the warm, spicy scent of seasonal candles and a wave a memories. Inside are everything from wreaths to pillowcases.

The box I want to share with you is the one that holds the Christmas books. Yes, more books in a house that nearly has a shelf in every room!

Except for a handful of grown-up morality tales like A Christmas Carol, Skipping Christmas, and The Christmas Shoes, the books are all well-worn and written for children. These are the favorites that are read every year.

1. The Night Before Christmas 

Written by Clement Clarke Moore and illustrated by Douglas Gorsline.

This was actually quite difficult for me to find. Our copy fell apart a few years back and we replaced it with another. The words are the same and we still read it together on Christmas Eve, but it will always be Gorsline's illustrations that I remember accompanying my father's hushed "not even a mouse."

2. Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect

Written by Richard H. Schneider and illustrated by Elizabeth J. Miles

This story is about a little pine tree who grows up in the forest from which the queen chooses the perfect Christmas tree. He strives to grow straight, thick branches, but throughout the story, he takes pity on forest animals, stretching and bending to give them shelter and food.

When the queen comes, he is not beautiful at all, but she chooses him anyway because she sees in him a reflection of her Savior.

3. One Wintry Night

Written by Ruth Bell Graham and illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson

As you no doubt can tell, illustrations are just as important as story to me. In this case, they are more important because I don't think I ever read through the whole book!

This story is about a young boy who takes refuge at a woman's home during a snow storm. She tells him the Christmas story, beginning in Genesis with creation and continuing all through the Bible.

Those pictures are so gorgeous!

4. A Wish for Wings that Work

Written and illustrated by Berkeley Breathed

This is a cute story about accepting and rejoicing in your unique abilities. Opus is a penguin who writes to Santa asking for wings that work. On Christmas Eve, something goes wrong and Santa crashes into the sea. Opus is able to save him because of his wings are made for swimming, which makes it possible for him to rescue Santa and his sleigh.


5. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Written by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch

I love this story because it deals with loss and grief without dismissing them. Jonathan Toomey is a woodcarver who the children call Mr. Gloomy. A widow and her son approach this Scrooge-like character because she is new in town and lost her nativity set in the move. She asks him to carve her a new one.

As he works on the figurines, they visit him often, and he begins to form a relationship with the little boy, slowly opening up to them.

But he can't seem to get Mary and the baby Jesus right. On Christmas Eve, he pulls out an old picture of the wife and child he lost and uses it as a guide for the carving.

I love this story because it doesn't want Jonathan Toomey to simply "move on" and not be sad about losing those he loves. Instead, the events of the story help him grieve and begin to heal in a healthy way.

6. The Legend of the Candy Cane

Written by Lori Walburg and illustrated by James Bernardin

I just love the descriptions of the glass jars and the pictures of all the candy!


7. The Polar Express

Written and illustrated by Chris van Allsburg

I remember watching the movie for the first time and being thrilled that they included the wolves chasing the train because that was something from the book that I loved.

8. Santa and the Christ Child

Written and illustrated by Nicholas Bakewell

Santa breaks his leg before Christmas and can't do all the work that is necessary to prepare for his annual flight. A child arrives at the North Pole and helps out, giving Santa some much needed time to heal. He even designs a bed that can be attached to the sleigh so Santa can make his trip.

The child drives the sleigh and Santa, helping him deliver presents all over the world, but before they return to the North Pole, he wants to show Santa where he was born. He brings him to a stable, where he reminds Santa and the world that Christmas is his birthday: the birthday of the Lord.

9. The Joy of A Peanuts Christmas

By Charles Schulz

Every year I read this treasury. Can't go wrong with Peanuts!








10. Follow the Star All the Way to Bethlehem

Written and illustrated by Alan and Linda Parry

I enjoyed this book long after I out-grew it! It had pop-ups, mazes, puzzles, and lots of other fun activities that helped to tell the Christmas story!

I would love to hear about the Christmas stories you remember from your childhood! Were any of these important to you?

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