We have HUNDREDS of Christmas stories for kids in our library, and this time of year many of them are checked out again and again. Here are some of my favorites, from the funny that are sure to appeal to boys, to the inspirational that would be wonderful for reading aloud as a family.
The Gingerbread Pirates, by Kristin Kladstrup (lexile: 450; AR book level: 2.8; 32 pp)
It’s Christmas Eve, and Jim and his mother are making gingerbread cookies, including some to leave out for Santa. But instead of the usual boring gingerbread men, these are pirates — including Captain Cookie, complete with cutlass and toothpick pegleg! When Jim goes to sleep, Captain Cookie comes to life, and heads out to look for his crew and save them from being eaten by this Santa-character! Wonderful pictures, and a delightful surprise at the end.
The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas, by Anne Muecke (lexile: NA; AR book level: 4.7; 32 pp)
The dinosaur fossils in a museum are the stars of this rollicking adaptation of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” To the delight of the young boy awoken by the “unusual clatter,” the dinosaurs come to life, and he joins them for a wild Christmas party. The illustrations are vibrant and colorful. And the accompanying CD features Al Roker reading the story aloud, as well as several dino-versions of classic Christmas songs (“Hark, the Pterodactyls Sing”).
Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon (lexile: 520; AR book level: 3.2; 32 pp)
It’s Christmas Eve, 1914, four months into World War I. British and German troops are spending the holiday in trenches dug into the cold ground, facing one another across what was known as “No Man’s Land.” The quiet is interrupted: the British hear the Germans singing, the words unknown, but the tune unmistakably “Silent Night.” The British respond with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”; soon a lone German soldier is approaching with a white flag and a Christmas tree. Thus begins the true story of what came to be known as “The Christmas Truce,” when the two opposing armies set down their guns and briefly came together. They exchanged gifts, shared pictures of their families, and even played a game of soccer. This fictionalized account is told by a grandfather to his grandchildren years later. The accompanying CD includes a reading of the story, the author’s song that inspired it, and “Silent Night” in English and German.
Voices of Christmas, by Nikki Grimes (lexile: NA; AR book level: 4.3; 32 pp)
Award-winning author and poet Nikki Grimes presents a beautiful picture of Jesus’ birth, told in the voices of those who were there. Listen in on what may have been the thoughts and feelings of the angel Gabriel, Joseph, Mary, a shepherd, a wise man, Simeon, and even King Herod. The free verse monologues and realistic paintings bring each character to life. Read for yourself, or listen to each superbly narrated on the accompanying CD. I usually suggest borrowing from the library, but this is one you may want to purchase and read year after year.