8 September

Once apon a Christmastime

Here are my top ten children’s Christmas stories:

  1. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr Seuss.[1]
  2. “The Christmas Book” by Dick Bruna is a good introduction to the nativity story for families light on Christmas theology.[2]
  3. “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore is a huge classic (although you will have to explain why Rudolph isn’t named in the reindeer muster).
  4. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis is classic which is suitable for late-primary school kids and beyond. (I still love it. When I read this as a child, I had no idea that it was a Christian allegory and I can tell you that makes it a splendid, pagan romp!)
  5. “Wombat Divine” by Mem Fox.[3]
  6. “Christmas Parade” by Sandra Boynton.[4]
  7. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. Since it was written in 1880, this novel is best suited to good readers who’ve reached double figures.[5]
  8. “Baboushka and the Three Kings” by Ruth Robbins. This purports to be a traditional Russian tale, but there’s very little contemporary evidence to back it up.[6]
  9. “The Tailor of Gloucester” by Beatrix Potter. This is long and wordy, so it won’t keep the attention of small children.[7]
  10. “Father Christmas” by Raymond Briggs is ideal for upper primary school kids.

You will also find plenty of story books that illustrate various Christmas carols and these can be informative as well as entertaining.

08 sep 2016.jpg
There’s more than one story of Christmas.

My friend Jill is organising the book stall for her grandson’s primary school’s fete.

“I didn’t have time to get involved when Allison was at school,” she explained, “and she doesn’t have time to get involved now that Riley has started, so this seems like a way of evening things out.”

She asked for my help and I was delighted to give it – I consider myself an expert on the very, very low end of the second-hand book market (although this is not something that shines on a resume).

[1] Who wasn’t a doctor and whose surname wasn’t Seuss. (Seuss was his middle name, but he clearly didn’t choose it as his pen name to make life easier for the reading public.)

[2] Of whatever ilk – it is one of the foundations of the most important celebration in the Australian calendar so it’s good to be familiar with it from an early age, even if you’re decidedly non-Christian.

[3] Let’s get more wombats into Christmas!

[4] Suitable for all faiths – provided they like animals (and brass bands).

[5] And who can handle nineteenth-century morality tales, which are an acquired taste.

[6] Don’t hold that against the story: someone must have made up Santa’s flying sleigh too.

[7] Not when read, that is. My nephew Jack loved the illustrations and cut some out and hung them on the bars of his mouse cage for their entertainment. (The mice loved them too… and nibbled them into shreds to make nests with.)

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