Christmas Books for Children

Christmas Books for Children

Koufax’s Latest Reads – Children’s Christmas Book Review

Our newest book reviewer, Koufax Tennyson, tackles the world of children’s literature. In staying true to her namesake, the books are given a 1 to 4 baseball score: single, double, triple, or a homerun!

Words to describe this group of books: Cheerful, Winter, Imagination, Magical, Creative, Seasonal

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (originally published 1823)

Koufax’s Score: 4 Baseballs (Homerun)

Controversially attributed to either Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr., which is an argument that is not meant to be solved here. Written as a poem and originally titled as “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” this is a staple for any children’s list of top Christmas stories. Each stanza provides stirring details and nostalgic feelings, as much of the story has been used in numerous other movies, books, and music.

Our favorite stanza describes Jolly St. Nick:
“His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;”

A signed copy of the 1931 illustrated version by Arthur Rackham is a prize to behold but due to their rarity and expense, a newer edition by illustrators such as Charles Santore will more than suffice for a reading copy. For a more decorative and durable option we recommend a leather edition, and Easton Press makes several different illustrated versions such as those by W.W. Denslow, Tom Browning, Charles Santore, and Mary Engelbreit.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (originally published 1957)

Koufax’s Score: 4 Baseballs (Homerun)

Sixty years ago, Dr. Seuss created one of the greatest masterpieces of how naughty nearly conquered nice. Through the pages of masterfully crafted rhymes and wit, he disregards the standards of literature and writing, at times creating his own phrases and repetitive use of words to fit his style, much like he does with other Seuss classics. The story of the Grinch is an easy proposition for children to understand, that you can and should believe in the true spirit of Christmas and after all “if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.”

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (originally published 1985)

Koufax’s Score: 2 Baseballs (Double)

With growing interest due to the 2004 film release featuring Tom Hanks, it is easy to forget the original book by Chris Van Allsburg. However, the illustrations by Van Allsburg are stunning, which is evident as it received the Caldecott Medal, awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children. What it lacks in literary substance, it makes up for in the illustrations. The story speeds along quickly in a race towards the climatic moral – to persuade kids to continue their belief in Santa Claus.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (originally published 1905)

Koufax’s Score: 2 Baseballs (Double)

Written in a manner best suitable for junior readers, the author uses this ironic short story to illustrate the art of gift giving. The challenge presented in this chronicle creates for a surprise ending, leaving one both frustrated but appreciative of the moral lesson. It is a heartwarming tale where the two characters, Della and Jim, find a way to express their love through sacrifice.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (originally published 1922)

Koufax’s Score: 3 Baseballs (Triple)

Though only set for a brief time on Christmas day, readers learn about the life of a toy. You need not read any further than the subtitle, “or How Toys Become Real,” to understand the nature of this book. As a present given on Christmas day, the Velveteen Rabbit navigates the nursery and ponders his existence and purpose. “He even began to lose his shape, and scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.” Williams provides an intriguing and magical story, while intertwining the reality of being a toy. A timeless classic, it’s a nice addition to add to a child’s reading list to keep the spirit of the season alive, particularly the days after Christmas.

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