Written literature immortalizes verbal narratives passed from one generation to another. These stories—whether they’re classic Christmas tales, fairy tales, fables, legends, and myths, have played a significant part in the cognitive development of a child. Of course, authors see to it that there is a story for every season and a folk tale for every significant holiday. These tales add more life to a celebration and colors to the canvas of a child’s mind.
Now that Christmas is fast approaching, bake a handful of cookies, gather your children around the Christmas tree, and read them these timeless tales.
Once Upon a Christmastime…
1. A Christmas Carol
Sometimes, one has to look back on the past, appreciate the present, and know the consequences of their actions in the future to see the beauty of life. And this is what A Christmas Carol teaches us. Written by Charles Dickens and illustrated by John Leech, A Christmas Carol is one of the classic Christmas tales dating back to the 1840s, which already has numerous film adaptations. The story revolves around a cunning and elderly miser named Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.
While everybody was joyfully greeting each other, “Merry Christmas!” on Christmas Eve, Mr. Scrooge just ignores the merriment and locks himself in his home. This is when the three ghosts of Christmas appear to him: the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Past takes him to his lonely childhood years at a boarding school and shows him his failed relationship with Belle because of his obsession with money. Then came the Present, who makes him realize that even those who are not that rich can be happy at Christmas and enjoy life. Lastly, the Future shows him a scene at his funeral. The vision makes him realize that if he continues to care more about his money than the people around him, no one will mourn when he dies. Instead, they will criticize him and steal his possessions.
With all of these revelations, Mr. Scrooge pledges to change his ways so he can redirect his future as well. On Christmas day, he invites everyone to a party, makes large donations, and treats everyone with kindness. A Christmas Carol will teach both adults and children to let go of bitterness and live with the end in mind.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
In another masterpiece by Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas follows the story of a grumpy creature named The Grinch, who had so much hatred for Christmas. This bitterness prompted him to cook up a hideous scheme to ruin everyone else’s Christmas in the town of Whoville. He believed that Christmas wouldn’t push through if he steals the Whos’ presents, trees, and food. Although he successfully stole those items from the Whos, his plan to stop Christmas drastically failed. He expected to hear cries, but to his utter disbelief, he heard joyous Christmas songs instead.
For a moment, he was raging. But then he realized that “What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”. Thus, putting an end to The Grinch’s hatred for Christmas. His shrunken heart grew, then he returned the Whos’ belongings and took part in the Christmas feast.
All the items written on the holiday shopping list does not guarantee a joyous heart. While the modern-day Christmas practice made us believe that giving gifts to your children will make them happy, nothing compares with the love and attention they receive from you. It is something no one can steal from them, not even The Grinch. Although fictitious, How the Grinch Stole Christmas will teach the children the value of contentment and the real essence of the holiday.
3. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
It’s Christmastime! Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree is here.
Oh no! It’s too tall for his home! What would Mr. Willowby do?
Here’s another classic Christmas tale to tell your kid. Robert Barry’s story entitled Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree features the value of sharing—although unknowingly—which essentially strengthens the Christmas spirit. Upon discovering that the tree he bought touched the ceiling, he knows something must go. So he chopped the top of the tree off and threw it away. When the maid saw this treasure, she used it as her Christmas tree. But there’s one problem, it wouldn’t fit her room, either! So she did what Mr. Willowby did. This cycle of a man’s rubbish becoming another’s treasure continues until every character of the narrative has their own Christmas tree, even the mice in Mr. Willowby’s house.
This hilarious story of unwittingly giving redefines the concept of trash, as the characters believed that the treetop they found is a blessing. With its colorful narrative and cute characters, Robert Barry’s classic tale is one of the best stories you can read to your toddlers during the holidays.
4. The Elves and the Shoemaker
There’s always joy in giving, especially for people with warm hearts. Like most classic Christmas tales, The Elves and the Shoemaker convey the positive impact of generosity. This Christmas fairy tale by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm starts with the failing business of a shoemaker, wherein all he had is leather enough for one pair of shoes. Thinking about making the shoes the next day, the shoemaker left the materials on the table and slept. That night, three elves secretly helped the shoemaker by making the best pair of shoes. The man and his wife feel surprised the moment they see the shoes. The same thing happened again, so the couple wanted to thank whoever helped them. Therefore, they stayed up all night, and they caught the elves stitching the shoes for them in the middle of the night.
For wanting to show gratitude to these magical creatures, they made clothes for these elves. The couple left their present on the table. As soon as the elves saw these, they were delighted. They soon left, and there was never a sight of them. You see, giving without expecting anything in return makes your heart a hundred times lighter. The elves never expected anything from the shoemaker. Still, they willingly extended a helping hand to the man.
May we be like the elves who always see the joy in giving. And may we also be like the shoemaker and his wife, who knows how to appreciate other people’s efforts. Not just during Christmas, but for the rest of our lives.
5. The Gift of the Magi
Have you ever sacrificed something important for someone who matters?
Gold, myrrh, and frankincense—three gifts Jesus received from the magi. However, in this short story by O. Henry, the magi were no kings. And they didn’t give gold, either. The Gift of the Magi follows the story of an ordinary couple named Jim and Della, who wanted to buy Christmas gifts for each other but only have a few in their pocket. Della, wanting to give her husband a chain for his watch, sold her long hair to a hairdresser. Little did she know, Jim sold his watch to buy her a set of ornamental combs for her long hair. Thus, leaving them with something they can’t use for the time being. Nevertheless, this situation made them realize their willingness to show their love for each other, even if it means sacrificing something important.
Apart from showing how people are willing to let go of something for someone they truly love, this narrative will leave children and teens a valuable lesson about giving. It teaches them to appreciate the things given to them, no matter how simple or grand that is. As the famous saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.”
6. The Little Match Girl
The Little Match Girl is a story that is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It begins on a cold New Year’s Eve, wherein a young, impoverished girl is out on the streets to sell matchsticks. Scared that her father would beat her for not selling any matches that day, the girl remained on the streets—the cold air almost crushing her. Sooner, she dared to light a matchstick to keep her warm. But the luminance gives her more than that. Every time she lights a match, the flames give her visions of her hopes and dreams. It showed her a dining room with sumptuous food, a happy family, and a beautiful Christmas tree. Her last sight was her grandmother, the only person who has shown her love. Not wanting grandma to go away, the little girl lit the entire bundle of matches.
When the flames went out, and there were no matches left, the poor girl died of the cold. All people know was she only tried to keep herself warm. No one witnessed the magical moments the little girl experienced that night.
Sometimes, we become too fixated on ourselves that we fail to see other people’s struggles. The Little Match Girl shows children the more serious things in life and how tough it can be for some kids like them. It teaches the value of charity and how it can make the world a better place. More importantly, it helps us realize the beauty of our dreams and to always see the light even in the most hopeless situations.
7. The Night before Christmas
Also called A Visit from St. Nicholas and Twas the Night before Christmas, The Night before Christmas is a poem written by Clement C. Moore for his family. Through the poem, Moore narrates what is happening on Christmas Eve when the children are fast asleep. According to the story, dad sees Santa Claus on the sleigh. He then lands on the roof and enters the house through the chimney to drop off presents for the children. After completing his mission, Santa flies away and wishes everyone a good night and a merry Christmas.
Mom, where is Santa during Christmas Eve? Dad, how can Santa bring presents to all of the children in the world? Mom, is Santa even real? As Christmas draws near, you may hear one of those questions from your little ones. You know, kids ask the funniest questions, which sometimes, you don’t know the answers to. This poem might save you! Expand your children’s imagination and read to them the story of how Santa or Father Christmas visits them a night before Christmas.
8. The Polar Express
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
Written by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is a story that centers on a little boy who had a Christmas journey to the North Pole via a train called the Polar Express. As the boy boarded the train, he saw children in pajamas just like him. When they arrived at the North Pole, Santa selected the boy to receive the first Christmas gift. He was told that he could choose whichever he likes. Think he’ll ask for a toy? Not this time. The boy only wished for a bell, and Santa willingly gave it to him. He placed it in his pocket only to discover that it had fallen on the train ride home.
Thankfully, the boy’s sister found a small package for him underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Inside it was a note from Santa and the bell. The boy then rang the gift from Santa, which created a sweet sound that only he and his sister could hear. The beautiful sound from the bell can only be heard by those who believed in Santa, which explains why their parents couldn’t hear it.
We believed in the existence of Santa at some point in our lives. Now that we’re old enough to know the truth, it is time to pass on this magic to our kids. The Polar Express helps you bring magic into the lives of your kids. It nurtures their creativity and imagination. Above all, believing in Santa encourages generosity, kindness, and joy among children.
9. The Snowman
Now that fall season is over, it’s time for winter. And what do children love to do during this season? Build a snowman!
In a wordless storybook by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman follows the adventure of a child with the snowman he made who comes to life. They played inside the house at midnight, making sure that they’re quiet enough so that the boy’s parents wouldn’t hear them. Then, the snowman takes the boy outside, and they went on an adventure of a lifetime. But just like any other snowman, this magical thing melted as the boy wakes up in the morning. And the child will forever remember the times he spent with the snowman he built.
While the book circles on a wonderful adventure between a child and his snowman, Briggs concluded the story with reality. He wanted to show the audience that endings aren’t always happy: a snowman melts, birds die, flowers wilt.
Although it seems gloomy to tell your children that nothing lasts forever, it is essential to teach them to treasure what they have at the present before it’s too late. At a young age, children must learn how to value the people around them and the blessings they have. This way, they can be truly happy and live life with no regrets.
10. The Velveteen Rabbit
Also known as How Toys Become Real, Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit presents the immense power of love. The story begins with the stuffed rabbit given to the boy on Christmas day. However, he fails to recognize this rabbit made from velveteen since it is old-fashioned compared to his other toys. One day, the wise and old Skin Horse shared his knowledge with the rabbit. He tells the rabbit that a toy can only be real if a child genuinely loves it. The rabbit’s excitement soon fizzles out when he realized that he only has a slight chance of achieving it.
There came a time when Nana gave the rabbit to him because he lost one of his toys. This was when the boy learned to love the velveteen rabbit. The rabbit became worn out, but it was happy. When the boy got sick, the velveteen rabbit stayed with him until he got better. But then the doctor advised that all of the boy’s things must be burned, and that includes the velveteen rabbit. Feeling down, the stuffed toy cried real tears, and a flower appeared.
The Nursery Magic Fairy stepped out of the flower then turned the rabbit into a real one. After that, she took him to the forest, where he lived with other rabbits. One time, the boy recognized the rabbit as it played in their garden. But the rabbit was only there to get one last look at the boy who genuinely loved him.
The Velveteen Rabbit will serve as a reminder for both young and older people that we can only show our true selves to those who love us. Likewise, we can only be true to the people we love.
While the story of Christmas stemmed from the Bible, which has sold 3.9 billion copies as of 2012, countless tales have been shared for generations. These fictional stories gave us real-life lessons, no matter how old or young we are. They added more meaning to the holidays and brought light to our lives. However, some adults don’t care about Christmas anymore. So if you’re one of them, remember that even the Grinch, who had a shrunken heart, learned to love Christmas—you should too!