Every year, the White House selects a Christmas theme for its decorations, and this year’s is “Gather Around.” Meant to celebrate “the stories and traditions that bring us together this special time of year,” the theme incorporates storytelling and history into its decorations.
With Christmas right around the corner, you may be wanting to share in story telling of your own, or pass along old traditions to new friends and family. In honor of the holidays, the following are six classic Christmas stories, perfect for reading aloud or giving as gifts.
1. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
Technically a poem, Clement Clarke Moore originally titled it ”A Visit from St. Nicholas,” in 1822. A copy that he hand-wrote in 1860 was purchased for $280,000 in 2006 by a businessman who read to his guests from the original at a Christmas party that year. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama read the poem, which she has called one of her favorite Christmas tales.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
“All the whos down in whoville liked Christmas a lot. But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not!” Is the classic first line of this Christmas tale. In 1957, it could have been read in the book, or in Redbook magazine, as both versions were published in the same season.
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens’ novella about Scrooge, the Cratchit family, and Christmas ghosts is a story that cements images of a Victorian Christmas in the minds of readers.
December 17 marked the book’s 170th anniversary, Chapman and Hall first published it on that date in 1843. It is also just one of Dickens’ other tales involving Christmas.
4. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Having sold millions of copies since 1985, The Polar Express is the most recent classic on this list. It won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, and has been made into a movie. The tale is about a boy, who finds on Christmas Eve, a train is prepared to take him to the North Pole. A poll by the School Library Journal in 2012 ranked the book as 56th on a list of the “Top 100 Picture Books.”
5. Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans
It is Christmas Eve in the old house in Paris, and all of the girls are sick except Madeline. As she helps Miss Clavel tend to her sick friends, a salesman arrives. With his magical powers, he creates flying carpets that take the girls on a Christmas Eve adventure.
Bemelmans Madeline series dates back to 1939, when the first books was published. Subsequent stories were written in the 1940s and 1950s.
6. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Originally published in 1906, this short Christmas story tells the tale of the recently married Youngs who do not have the money to purchase Christmas presents for one another. It is Christmas Eve, and each is trying to find a way to buy the other the perfect present.