The Twelve Books of Christmas: My Top Twelve Holiday Books of All Time

A Christmas Carol Best Christmas BooksAs an educational enrichment teacher, and especially as a teacher of English, I am hard-pressed to find anything within the realm of education that excites me more than catching my students getting into a good book. And with the holidays upon us, we might find our students and children becoming antsy – finding it difficult to focus on more academic endeavors, and favoring more festive fare (read: counting down the seconds until break).

I take no issue with this! I encourage breaks and any opportunity we have to allow our children’s minds to rest and regroup. However, I also firmly believe in leisure with a side of learning, and, as you may remember from previous posts (like here, here, and here), the power of reading. With that, I present my gift to you: “The Twelve Books of Christmas” in hopes that it brings you and your family great comfort and joy (I’ll stop.) this holiday season.

(Truth: This was going to be a top ten list, but what can I say? I’m an English teacher – the play on words was utterly irresistible!)

The Twelve Books of Christmas: My Top Twelve Holiday Books and Short Stories of All Time

On the twelve days of Christmas, my true love read to me…

12. Skipping Christmas – John Grisham

Perhaps a book more for the adults, in this lighthearted novel by John Grisham, the Kranks decide to “skip” the Christmas season in order to take a relaxing cruise instead. They soon find out, to the delight of readers, that this is easier said than done. Note: This book might be for the more mature reader, as it contains some themes that are somewhat adult in nature.

11. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss

In this classic by the beloved Dr. Seuss, the Grinch tries to “steal” Christmas from the jolly “Whos” of “Whoville.” In carrying out his scheme, however, he learns that Christmas is not so much about the stuff you get, as it is about the people you share it with.

10. The Legend of the Poinsettia – Tomie dePaola

Newberry and Caldecott honor-winning author Tomie dePaola tells the story of Lucida and the legend of the Christmas flower – the poinsettia – in this beautifully illustrated children’s book.

9. The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

This wordless story is truly one for all ages, as Raymond Briggs brings a snowman to life to share a magical night with the little boy who built him.

8. Nutcracker and Mouse King – E.T.A. Hoffmann

Although you might be more familiar with the ballet, I urge you to read the origins of this classic tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, in which young Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas present – a nutcracker – comes to life, defeats the evil Mouse King in battle, and shares a magical night with Marie in the Kingdom of the Dolls.

7. ‘Twas the Night before Christmas: A Visit from St. Nicholas – Clement Clarke Moore

If you’re anything like me, you probably already have many verses of this well-loved Clement Clarke Moore poem memorized, but that does not stop me from wanting to read it over and over this time of year!

6. A Little House Christmas – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder is well-known for her stories based on her family’s life as settlers on the Wisconsin frontier. This book contains five fascinating stories of the Christmases they shared there.

5. “The Little Match Girl” – Hans Christian Andersen

A short story by an author famous for his fairytales – Hans Christian Andersen – The Little Match Girl tells the heartbreaking, yet hopeful story of a poor girl attempting to sell matches on a cold New Year’s Eve. Note: Some younger readers might find this story upsetting, as it contains a death.

4. “The Gift of the Magi” – O. Henry

This somewhat frustrating, yet heartwarming tale by O. Henry follows Della and Jim – a young married couple – on Christmas Eve, as they both make painful sacrifices in order to buy their significant other the most perfect Christmas gift.

3. The Santaland Diaries – David Sedaris

Another one more for the adults, this essay by hilarious writer David Sedaris recounts the season he worked as a Christmas Elf in Macy’s department store.  Note: This book does contain adult themes that some parents may find inappropriate for younger readers.

2. The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg

This magical tale by Chris Van Allsburg follows a young boy as he is whisked aboard a train on Christmas Eve. Their destination? The North Pole.

And the moment you’ve all been waiting for…My #1 holiday book of all time (drumroll, please)…

 1. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised in the least that I chose this classic by Charles Dickens. I love everything about it, I have read it countless times, and I own just about every movie version there is to own (I won’t talk about the time I tried to name my dog Bob Cratchit if you won’t!). If you haven’t read the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and how he comes to keep Christmas perpetually in his heart, I highly recommend you do so. I doubt you will be disappointed.

What do you think? What are your family’s favorites for holiday reading? Did my list make you say, “Bah! Humbug!”? Let us hear from you in the comments! And, let me add, a very happy holiday season to you, and best wishes for the New Year ahead!

Author: Emily Karth, Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead

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