"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Favourite Children's Books of Christmas

The following books remain on my shelves as favourite Christmas books for children.  They stand the test of time and remain the titles we still reach for year after year.

The Littlest Angel
Author:  Charles Tazewell
Illustrayed by:  Paul Michich
Originally published in 1946, it has been reprinted several times

"THE LITTLEST ANGEL was born in 1939 when Screen Guild producers informed scriptwriter Charles Tazewell that he must "write something."  They anticipated a crisis with a current production, and Tazewell's creation would serve as backup.  While the crisis never materialized, THE LITTLEST ANGEL did."

First narrated on the Christmas radio show MANHATTEN, in 1946 LITTLEST ANGEL was published in book form by Children's Press of Chicago.  It was later translated into several languages and released as a Decca album.

CORONET published THE LITTLEST ANGEL in its magazine in 1949 and later released it as a film.  At the time of the author's death in 1972, THE LITTLEST ANGEL was in its thirty-eighth printing and was an "international classic".  It has stood the test of time and sold over five million copies.  It is considered one of the all-time best-selling children's books.

THE LITTLEST ANGEL is the story of a young angel who just cannot seem to stay out of trouble in the celestial city.  When the Christ child is born, this little angel learns a timeless lesson, one that endures as the true spirit of giving.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Author:  Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel )
Published by Random House in 1957
50 pages

'"Every Who
Down in Whoville
Liked Christmas a lot....
But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Who-ville,
Did NOT!"

This was Dr. Seuss' criticism of the commercialization of Christmas and its setting is based upon his hometown and surrounding area.  Despite the Grinch taking away everything the Who's have to celebrate Christmas, it does not dim the spirit of Christmas.  As the Who's gather together, singing in praise of Christmas, the Grinch realizes Christmas does not come in packages tied in ribbons and bows nor in the magnificent feast.  Christmas dwells in the heart.  That day, when Grinch learned this valuable lesson, his heart grew three times larger.  He returned all that he had taken, with a new understanding of the true meaning of Christmas.

A valuable lesson for all to learn and remember.


The animated version is still one of my personal animated favourites

Christmas Oranges
Retold by Linda Bethers
Illustrated by Ben Sowards
Copyright 2002
30 pages
This is the story of a young girl named Rose who is growing up in an orphanage.  She feels alone as she struggles to make new friends.  At Christmas a kind neighbour brings a box of oranges for all the children in the orphanage.  An unknown luxury for Rose, she waits in anticipation to receive her orange.  Christmas morning arrives and she is heartbroken to find there is no orange for her.

Rose has a few good friends who, upon discovering Rose has no orange, do something that changes their Christmas then and forever.  They show the true value of love and friendship.


The Nutcracker Ballet
Author:  Vladimir Vagin
Illustrations by Vladimir Vagin
Copyright 1995
28 pages

Based on the "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" written by the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann.

In 1954 famous choreographer George Balanchine staged a version of The Nutcracker Ballet which has become the basis for the productions on stage today and for this book.

Christmas Eve was magical in their household.  One Christmas Eve in particular Clara receives a wooden nutcracker doll from her eccentric godfather, a toy maker.  After midnight, the nutcracker is transformed into a dashing prince who leads Clara into the Land of Sweets.  The Rat King is an enemy of this dream world and the nutcracker must raise an army to defeat him and his minnions.


If the opportunity to attend the Nutcracker Ballet arises, do attend!  It is stunning in its choreography, costumes and dancers, and ability to retell this classic story.

The Small One
Author:  Alex Walsh
Illustrated by Jesse Clay
Copyright 1995 by Disney Enterprises, Inc.
28 pages

"Before honor is humility: - Proverbs 15:33

This book is based upon Disney's short animated film The Small One.  A young boy must sell his favourite donkey and is heartbroken over the prospect of losing his dear friend.  His sadness is lifted when he sells the small donkey to a man whom he knows will love and care for his little friend.  Knowing that the man is Joseph and his little donkey will carry Mary to Bethlehem, the young boy's sadness is lifted.

A book sure to inspire faith and love in all who read it.  A lovely story to share with your children.


On Christmas Eve
Author:  Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Nancy Edwards Calder
Original copyright by Roberta B. Rauch 1938 and 1965
Illustrations copyright 1996 by Nancy Edwards Calder
30 pages

The excitement of Christmas Eve leaves four children unable to sleep.  They sneak downstairs to gaze upon the tree and stockings and listen to the carollers outside.  They want to touch the Christmas tree and make a Christmas wish that night.  With hearts pounding they approach the tree and see the gifts beneath.  Outside the beautiful song of the carollers draws them to the window.  It is almost too much for them to take in.

A cute story with incredible illustrations that children will love year after year.  Children can relate to the characters in this book as they too want to sneak downstairs in the dark on Christmas Eve just to get a peak.


The Christmas Candle
Author:  Richard Paul Evans
Paintings by Jacob Collins
Text copyright 1998 by Richard Paul Evans
Art copyright 1998 by Jacob Collins
A Simon & Schuster Book for Young Readers
25 pages

This story is ideal for the older child but in the hands of a parent read to a child it is a story of love and mankind's need for love. 

On a Christmas Eve, on his way home, a young man finds his candle is dwindling and the flame soon to flicker out.  He finds a chandler's shop open and obtains a new candle but this isn't any candle.  It shines on those on the street casting them in a different light than their original form.  In one form, the young man sees his mother as a beggar and gives her his cloak.  This happens again as he sees someone he knows in the stranger in the street and is again inspired to share of his belongings.  By the time he arrives home he has no cloak and no money but in his heart he has a new gift.  The gift of love and acceptance.

A wonderful story which reminds us to love one another.


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