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Eyrie Park is home to thousands of books. There are books in every bedroom, in the den and living room, in the kitchen and in closets. At Christmas time, we empty a couple of high cabinets and put out baskets and seasonal reads. We have many picture books about Baby Jesus, Santa Claus and snow. We have pop-up books and easy readers and beautifully illustrated picture books that get read at this time each year, preferably by a blazing fire!
However, in the past few years I’ve realized that Christmasy reading doesn’t have to be a contained in a 32 page hardback about a reindeer with a red nose, which is why I’ve compiled this list of chapter books perfect for cozy December nights. Several of them would be great to read aloud to kiddos, others are intended for adults. Without further adieu, I give you 8 Christmasy Titles to Put You in the Spirit. :)
1. The Coat-hanger Christmas Tree by Eleanor Estes
I have been an avid Estes fan since I was a wee lassie. I cannot exactly explain why I love her books so much. There’s something special about them. I think it’s the way she wrote real life into her children’s books without being preachy, dramatic or dull. They’re just great. I didn’t read The Coat-hanger Christmas Tree until I was a young adult, and it will never replace Ginger Pye in my heart, but I did really like it. In the New England based tale, ten-year-old Marianna desperately wants a Christmas tree but her mother refuses to be “like every tom-dick-and-harry.” As we know, kids find their own ways of doing things, hence the Christmas tree made of coat-hangers. Sadly, this gem is out of print, but I know you could find yourself a copy. You can do it!
2. The True Saint Nicolas: Why He Matters by William Bennett
This title was new to me last year, but I gobbled it up in time to lend it to my grandmother when we saw her for Christmas. She and I both agree, it’s a fascinating little book! If you’re like me, you’ve heard of Santa Claus/Old Saint Nick/Father Christmas your whole life and had some random ideas of who these mythical characters came from, but no clear story in your mind. This book quickly covers the real person named Saint Nicolas, the myths and legends about him, the other mythical characters who have been combined with Saint Nicolas over the years and the origin of our modern “Santa Claus” traditions, such as why he leaves gifts in our stockings, etc. Mostly it’s just interesting and super fun. It made me excited for Christmas and for teaching my little siblings about a real man who exemplified the true meaning of Christmas many a year ago.
3. Christmas with Anne by L. M. Montgomery
L. M. Montgomery, Christmas…how could you go wrong? This little collection of stories features our beloved Anne-with-an-E in her tale of puffed sleeves (real Anne fans could never forget that one) and fifteen other heartwarming, holiday tales. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the entire book yet, but I know it will be delightful. Montgomery’s eloquence set in P.E.I. during Christmastide will make me throw another log on the fire, I’m sure.
4. Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien
Didn’t know Tolkien wrote a Christmas book, did ya? Well, he kind of did, at least. This lovely book is a compilation of letters Tolkien’s children received in the mail every December “from Father Christmas.” The letters detail life at The North Pole, the life and work of the author (Santa) and included original artwork. If you get this book, you will love Christmas a little bit more. And maybe wish Tolkien was your dad.
5. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Ann’s long time love of the Advent season finally bore a book last year! If you’ve followed her Advent devotional in the past, you are familiar with the stunning way she weaves the entire love story (Bible) into Christmas. Her writings completely changed how I view Jesus’ genealogy (it actually matters-a lot!) and the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Grab a copy early and work your way through the season. You won’t regret it.
6. The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L’engle
You know her from A Wrinkle in Time and some really deep theological books, but you might not know that she penned a winter’s tale as well! In this little book (complete with twenty-four short chapters) the Austin family lets you in on their holiday traditions each day of Advent. There’s a lose, sweet plot happening all along. The ending may make you sigh with joy. Maybe.
7. A Quiet Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott
I’ll read anything by Alcott. She’s my literary heroine. This is a short story by Alcott which I enjoyed when I was younger but would probably bawl through today, simply because it’s about a girl who needs a family. Patty cannot bear another day in the orphanage. Even after a family finally does come for Patty, it is only because they need a servant. But there is one person who does care about Patty! Will Patty find her family in time for Christmas?! I especially enjoy reading about the origin of this story: “The young Lukens girls had written to Miss Alcott telling her that they were so inspired by the examples of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, that they, too, were launching their own literary publication.Soon the Lukens girls received a very special gift-a Christmas story from Miss Alcott about a lonely orphan girl who finds a family to love her. Following its publication, the story stayed in an old magazine until many years later, a reader chanced upon it.” (From Amazon) Kate’s Choice is another very sweet Christmas tale by Alcott.
8. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
If you’ve never read this before, you need to get yourself a cute little copy like mine and get to it! It’s a very un-intimidating read. You may know the story from various plays or picture books or (heaven forbid) Mickey Mouse movies, but Dickens wasn’t just a story teller, he was a writer. You must read it in his own words at least once. It has some fantastic little quotes. It definitely touched my heart!
What books do YOU love to read at this time of the year? Share in the comments!