Maya Reddy ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
For many, the holidays promise time spent to relax, enjoy oneself, and be with family. This is even truer for children. One of the best ways to spend this free time involves enjoying the entertaining reads for this holiday season. Whether your time involves looking back on books enjoyed as children or looking forward to new generations of Christmas readers, here are a few selections of great holiday children’s books.
1. Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
This story is a classic for a reason. Sure, it was originally a poem, that’s had countless incarnations, but one of its most memorable incarnations is in a picture book illustrated by Charles Santore. This book features beautifully vivid depictions of the classic poem, so much so that the edition is well on its way to becoming a classic itself. Santore keeps the charm and whimsy of the poem and transforms it into a unique visual experience.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
While this well-loved children’s book is technically considered contemporary, How the Grinch Stole Christmas can easily be considered a classic in its own right. Along with it being a poem that’s extremely fun to read aloud, it also is one of the most heartwarming, silly stories about Christmas. The characters are iconic, its numerous adaptations have all been great successes, and its titular lead—the Grinch—holds a spot in every Christmas-lover’s heart.
And while the adaptations of this lovely story may be aplenty, nothing beats the original. This is a story that pushes its reader through a rollercoaster of emotions while still avoiding a certain overt sentimentality with which most Christmas books struggle. While sentimentality can be enjoyed, especially during the holidays, How the Grinch Stole Christmas offers a refreshing look at this time of year.
3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is another newer book about Christmas that comes in the form of the dreaded chapter book. While it still offers illustrations, the real beauty of this book is in its creative and thoughtful plot. This is also a Christmas book that has religious undertones in it—more than in other well-known Christmas stories—yet it avoids being on the nose with religion. The humor of this story brings older children back to that early excitement for Christmas seen in most of the other books on this list. And much like it’s religious aspects, the moral of the story is very present but not over-the-top.
4. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Polar Express is another classic for most. This story about Santa Clause offers the most vivid and beautiful imagery, all in the simplicity of the want for a silver bell. Beyond that desire comes an adventurous story fulfilling every child’s dream about what the North Pole really is like. The Polar Express is a staple for any child with an overactive imagination and a love for the whimsical.
5. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson
No matter by what medium this story is brought to its audience, The Little Match Girl is often regarded as one of the saddest Christmas stories ever written. That’s because it is one of the saddest Christmas stories ever written. While Christmastime is no longer solely a religious holiday as it once might have, it’s still a time most people spend with their loved ones. It’s a time for celebration and happiness, making it easy to forget about all the bad things happening in the world.
Ignorance is not bliss, as this story makes itself abundantly clear. A little girl slowly freezes to death, all the while, people carry on with their holiday shopping and plans. It makes the reader think about life beyond their own perspective, especially in regards to a time of year that is seen as so full of love. Beyond just the ending of this story, The Little Match Girl perfectly combines the heartbreaking realities of the real world with the hope and happiness that she somehow manages to find as she remembers her grandmother. It’s a tragic-yet-hopeful story that sticks with its readers far after it’s read.
The definition of what the holidays mean may constantly change, but these diverse books offer the chance to define what Christmas and the winter holidays mean for oneself. Whether for a child or an adult, this selection of books offer a unique holiday perspective.