Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Stories - a Connoisseur Selection for the occasional Christmas storyteller

Every time I find myself randomly suggesting to people that they read more Christmas stories/storybooks to their kids or if they've ever read <insert one of the 1001 Christmas stories/storybooks I know>, I get blank stares. Now that might be because I am a Christmas Freak with a Family Feud winner sized Christmas knowledge. Or simply because with Christmas being as short as it is (yes I know nowadays the whole world dives into Christmas frenzy as soon as Halloween is over, but that's mainly for shopping), most Christmas stories and storybooks don't get told or bought because we have classics that usually take front stage.

Cue The Sound Eater. I'm here to the rescue! I've put together a careful selection of slightly more obscure Christmas books that will spice up your teaching this festive season.
Here is a full list of Christmas storybooks to explore with your kids and adults. Just in time for the last week of school!

1. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Raymond Briggs created the perfect Christmas story without even writing a word. It's winter, there's lost of snow and snowman  comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. It is narrated entirely through pictures and allows the storyteller to adapt the text, involve the listener and create some Christmas magic.

2. How to Catch and Elf by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

With delightful rhymes and a self-explanatory title, How to Catch an Elf is a rhyming pleasure to use. It's full of jokes and has great illustrations. Great to use with kids and adults alike, this book will allow you bring some particular holiday cheer to class.

3. Dream Snow by Eric Carle

We all know Eric Carle is the undefeated champion of any Kids Books/Simple yet Incredible Kids Materials Competition.
It's December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter's nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow! In his dream he imagines a snowstorm covering him and his animals—named One, Two, Three, Four and Five—in a snowy blanket. But when the farmer wakes up, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something! Putting on his red suit, he goes outside and places gifts under the tree for his animals, bringing holiday cheer to all.
I mean, can it get more Eric Carle than this?
Yes, because the book has flaps that have hidden pictures. EEK!

4. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh (illustrations J.otto Seibold)

Olive will make your heart melt because she doesn't just realise she is a Reindeer (yes, out of the blue), but she also travels to the North Pole via the polar express and manages to convince Santa and the other reindeer (who are a bit surprised in the beginning) that a dog should definitely join their team. In the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need. Adorable Olive and her hilarious adventures are sure to make anyone's Christmas merry, kids and adults alike.

5. The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy (illustrations Emily Sutton)

Probably the best illustrated Christmas story I've ever seen, this storybook is definitely going to impress your older kids and adults. The story is simple,  an ugly little fir tree is taken to the city, no one wants to buy him; they prefer the big tall trees. But a homeless boy asks the shopkeeper if he can take the tree, and down by the river in a cardboard box, decorated with a few candles, the tree finds itself at the centre of a magical Christmas Eve it will never forget. A Christmas tale with a classic feel but a modern theme at its heart. You need go to amazon and order it asap. And try not to cry the first time you read it.

6. Paddington and the Christmas surprise by Michael Bond (illustrations R. W. Alley)

Do you know Paddington? If you don't and you teach, you need to google him asap and get schooled on the great bear that is Paddington (he hails from Peru mind you) and his marvellous adventures.
This story is funny and festive, with the Browns taking Paddington to the Christmas grotto at the local department store, where their journey through the Winter Wonderland is full of unexpected surprises. But the best surprise is a present from Santa. After all, who else would find the perfect present for a bear like Paddington?
Great for little kids and for avid storyteller who want to start a tradition. Paddington is a series of books that you can use for the whole year.

7. Winnie-the-Pooh: Pooh's Christmas Adventure (illustrations Andrew Grey)


It's not a Storybook selection without my favourite little English bear. It’s a very snowy day in the Hundred Acre Wood, and Pooh Bear realises that some of the other animals might be snowed in to their houses. With the help of Piglet, he determines to help all of the other animals clear the snow away – and then it’s time for a Little Something! After all that, there’s just enough time for Christopher Robin to show them all how to make a snowman.

8. Tales from Christmas Wood by Suzy Senior (illustrations James Newman Gray)  

I discovered this book in a quiet bilingual library on a quiet scenic street in midtown Bucharest a few years back and I've secretly loved it ever since.
Christmas wood is full of animals: Badger, Fidgety Fox, Owl (not Wise Old Owl, just Owl), the Rabbit family, Tiny Mouse, and Robin. It's nearly Christmas and all the animals are getting ready to celebrate - Badger is looking for new friends, Tiny is making (or is that eating) gingerbread, and Rosie Rabbit just can't get ANY peace and quiet!
Tales from Christmas Wood is a lovely collection of five short stories, recounting the adventures of Badger, Owl, Fidgety Fox, Tiny Mouse, Robin and the Rabbit Family.
This is a lovely collection to read to children before Christmas as the stories deal with values such as friendship, honesty, kindness, self-control, self-worth, co-operation, taking responsibility and togetherness, as well as talking about the original Christmas story with a traditional Nativity scene. My children love these tales and particularly love looking at the beautiful illustrations, pointing out what they can see in each scene. I think this one will become a firm family favourite, perfect for sharing together on cold, winter nights!

9. The Christmas Bear by Ian Whybrow (illustrations Axel Scheffler)

Here's forgetful Father Christmas on his way to deliver the presents, when poor Bear realises he's left behind. Christmas adventure full of smart rhymes and silliness a-plenty, illustrations by none other than Axel Scheffler (remember the  The Gruffalo?) and lots of flaps to lift on every page, so children can join in the fun!

10. A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates (illustrations Sebastia Sera)

What can I say, I'm a sucker for pirates. And nothing makes me happy than to combine two things I like such as Christmas and pirates and get it in a book. Your kids will enjoy this Christmas story with a with a sly buccaneer twist and it will keep them guessing about the gifts from day one, when low and behold, you get a parrot in a palm tree. Styled on the eponymous song, A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas can be sung or told as story, used from pron or as a starting point for the creation of your own Twelve Days of Christmas!

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