Tag Archives: Chris Van Allsburg

December Read-Alouds: Ho! Ho! Ho!

Original article in The New York Sun

Image via Wikipedia

This pictures says it all! The anxious anticipation by an eager young child on Christmas Eve! The timeless mystery surrounding Santa Claus by children all over the world. There are so many stories of Santa Claus and of Christmas itself.  Every year at Christmas time, especially on Christmas Eve, I like to share the story with my children, whom are now all adults, the story, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.  My husband sets the stage and the girls anticipate the tears from me as I read.  Their husbands now partake in our family tradition – they are really great sports!

These are my Christmas books of choice to read aloud to the students in the Library during Story Time. Many of them are classics for me but I fell in love with the newest addition to my list, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup last year! I would really enjoy hearing from you if any of these Christmas stories are books you read or have read to your own children, grandchildren, or students.

 Buon Natale!

A Creature Was Stirring: One Boy’s Night Before Christmas, adapted by Carter Goodrich

A Creature Was Stirring 

With this storybook you get two stories in one! Throughout the book on one page you’ll read Clement C. Moore’s Christmas classic, The Night Before Christmas, and on the opposite page a young boy interjects his thoughts about being awake on Christmas Eve.  The little boy can’t get to sleep and he knows that’s a no-no in Santa’s book! You’ll enjoy predicting the outcome with your own child.  Always a fun Christmas book to read!  Gorgeous illustrations compliment the story.

The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup

The Gingerbread Pirates

It’s Christmas Eve. Jim and his mother have put the finishing touches on the pirate gingerbread men cookies for Santa Claus.  Jim’s favorite one they created is “Captain Cookie.”  He takes him up to bed with him but “Captain Cookie” is quite curious as to the goings on for Christmas and Santa Claus.  Off he wanders downstairs to be confronted by a mouse, other cookie pirates, and Santa Claus!  Captain Cookie is on a mission to rescue his crew from a notorious cookie eating Santa Clause.  When pirates are involved plus Santa Claus you know you’ve got a fantastic Christmas book!

How Little Porcupine Played Christmas by Joseph Slate




“Your spines shine.  Your eyes sparkle.  You are the light of my life!” This always brings a tear to my eyes as Mama Porcupine declares her love for her Little Porcupine.  Little Porcupine states to his mother he would like a part in The Baby in the Manger Play at school. With these words from his mother fresh in his mind Little Porcupine runs off to try out for the play.  Much to his dismay (and to the children when I read this) his classmates decide there is no part for Little Porcupine to play.  Discover how Little Porcupine does indeed become a “shiny spiny star” in the play!  Probably my favorite Christmas story!

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore & Illustrated by Mary Engelbreit

The Night Before Christmas (Cat's Whiskers)

A Christmas reading list wouldn’t be complete without this timeless classic.  I like this version because of the Mary Engelbreit illustrations. Engelbreit’s signature trademark images found on each page compliment this memorable tale of Christmas.  Children still enjoy this endearing and lasting tale of one’s look at Santa Claus on Christmas Eve!

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express 

I still can’t get through reading The Polar Express completely without choking up! Each time I get to the conclusion of the story I recollect the vision of each of my own three girls as they made the shocking discovery about Santa Claus.  Van Allsburg captures the mystery and wonderment of Santa Claus, Christmas, and the elves on one boy’s journey on an enchanting and captivating train ride to the North Pole.  The young boy’s request for one of Santa’s sleigh bells and the magic surrounding what all of us hope to capture upon hearing the sound of the bell continues to bring joy to all of us who still believe.

Prairie Night Before Christmas (now called, Cowboy Night Before Christmas) by James Rice

Cowboy Night Before Christmas:...

I’m quite fond of this “cowboy” version of, The Night Before Christmas, partly because of the western “twang” of the story.  Two cowpokes aid Santa on Christmas Eve who has gotten sidetracked on the Southwestern Plains due to a blizzard.  With the assistance of some “ornery longhorns” Santa is able to continue on his journey.  The cowboys find quite a pleasant surprise in the end as Santa leaves them each a gift every cowboy would fancy!

Santa Calls by William Joyce

Santa Calls

If you’ve never read this Christmas story or if you don’t have it as part of your own Christmas collection of books, I extremely urge you to buy this!  The year is 1908, and the place is Abilene, Texas. The charming characters are quite the individuals who are young Art, who is committed to “the making of inventions, the quest for adventure, and the fighting and smashing of crime,” his faithful greatest buddy, Spaulding, and Art’s tag-along little sister, Esther. One day they receive a mysterious wooden box accompanied with this mysterious note: “Open the box. Assemble the contents. Come NORTH. Yours, S.C.”  The adventure to “Toyland” ensues with Art, Spaulding, and yes, young Esther, traveling on the constructed Yuletide Flyer! On their journey they encounter and battle the Evil Queen and her Dark Elves.  Once they return safely home after their visit with Santa all three wonder why exactly they were sent on this unexplained and puzzling escapade.  Santa explains to them, “Some secrets are best left unsolved.” The secret of this entertaining and quite touching tale is revealed in two letters found at the conclusion of the story.

A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story by Berkeley Breathed

A Wish for Wings That Work: An...

Being a penguin has its limitations. Opus is a bird but he cannot fly. He is quite disgruntled, “A bird with wings that won’t work! What good is that? What good am I?”  Opus tries various ways to rectify the flying dilemma but none seem to work to his benefit.  Opus has only one wish for Christmas – to be “flying by Christmas morning.”  While sitting by his fireplace with a portrait of his heroine, Amelia Earhart, looking down upon him, Opus crafts a letter to Santa stating his quandary and his desire for wings that work. On Christmas Eve, Opus is awakened by a snow duck with a calamity – Santa and his sleigh have plummeted into the lake.  Opus is called upon to rescue Santa before he and the sleigh sink!  Discover along with Opus what truly makes him special and how he is rewarded by Santa and the snow ducks on Christmas morning!  Like me, you might find yourself shedding a few tears of joy by the end!



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