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{A&E} Ultimate Guide: Christmas Reading

SarahJo Ciotti - December 01, 2011

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Here are a few essential books to curl up with this Christmas season.

As the holidays come each year, excitement builds, decorations go up, and Christmas songs play on the radio. In celebration of all the hubbub, we’ve compiled a list of essential Christmas stories to read, whether on your own, with your children, or the whole family.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“Bah!” said Scrooge. “Humbug!” 



These famous words mark the beginning of a tale that renews the spirit of joy and caring that is Christmas. This book warms our hearts with favorite memories of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet-to-be—and will remind us with laughter and tears about the true meaning of Christmas.

A Christmas tradition for many, including President Thomas S. Monson, this story is always a delight to read and reread during the Christmas season.

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

Newspaper reporter Hope Jensen uncovers the remarkable secret behind the “Christmas Jars,” glass jars filled with coins and bills anonymously left for people in need. But along the way, Hope discovers much more than the origin of the jars. When some unexpected news sets off a chain reaction of kindness, Hope's greatest Christmas Eve wish comes true.

Read the book that has spawned a new Christmas tradition that has spread across the country—and even the world. A story of mystery and secrecy, the story behind the Christmas Jars is one of discovery and kindness, and wishes coming true.

Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

A prequel to Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol, R. William Bennett rewinds the story and focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob T. Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path. Following the events leading to his death, perhaps we will discover what happened that bound Marley in chains after death.

Written in a voice reminiscent of Dickens, Jacob T. Marley is a masterfully crafted story of remorse and redemption and sure to become a Christmas favorite.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Tom Browning

The classic poem paired with the original illustrations by award-winning Tom Browning brings to life the excitement and fun that children and adults alike have enjoyed for generations. The visions that this book will leave with your family will be memories to cherish together forever.

The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean

The Forgotten Carols tells the story of a nurse whose empty life is changed when a new patient recounts the story of Christ's birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the innkeeper, the shepherd who fell asleep, the midwife who helped Mary, Joseph, and many others help her discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas, and open her heart to the joy of this special season.

Since this is a reading list, we’re sharing the book with you (there’s also a newer children’s version out—you can check it out here), but this is a timeless classic that encompasses a CD of songs, a DVD, and best of all, a show that has been enjoyed by sold-out audiences nationwide. Now you can feel the warmth of the Christmas spirit from the stage performances in your own home.

Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard Schneider

In a beautiful forest far away, Small Pine aspires to one day be the royal Christmas tree. Small Pine is perfect on the outside - until the tree's warm heart inspires it to give shelter to cold rabbits and birds and food to hungry deer. Afraid his hopes are lost, Small Pine in fact becomes the Queen's choice because his appearance reminds her of the meaning of Christmas.

This is a beautiful story about true "perfection," and is a wonderful reminder about Jesus Christ's love.

The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke

John Weightman surrounded himself with beauty and riches and was very careful with how he spent his money. “No pennies in beggars’ hats,” he liked to say. Until one night he dreamed that he died . . .

John travels to the Celestial City, where each individual will be rewarded with a mansion based on treasures set aside. Thinking that his mansion will be the most grand, John Weightman learns what it truly means to lay up treasures in heaven.

A favorite of President Thomas S. Monson, who rereads this story every year, the 100th anniversary edition contains an illustrated abridged version for children as well as the original unabridged story.

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

A couple and their 4-year-old daughter are welcomed into the home of an ailing widow as her caretakers. Before long, their relationship with the widow becomes more special than any one of them could have realized. These tender relationships and real-life struggles are the backdrop for unraveling a mysterious secret that pulls the reader through this holiday classic. Originally written simple to express his love for his two daughters, The Christmas Box is now a national bestseller and a must-have for every home.

Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers and illustrated by Ben Sowards

The only home little Rose has ever known is the orphanage where Mrs. Hartley cares for all the children as if they were her own. When tragedy occurs Rose is sent to a new orphanage, which is as cold and cruel as her previous home was kind.

Gradually Rose makes a few friends, and she learns that every Christmas a generous neighbor donates a box of oranges for the children. But on Christmas morning, Rose is brokenhearted when she learns that there is no orange for her. However, Christmas is a time of friendship, love, and miracles...

A tale of discovery and hope, perfect to share with children as you tuck them in on Christmas Eve. (Or, if you’re like our associate editor, you like to eat it while savoring a chocolate orange…)

Snow Angels by Angel Randall and illustrated by Brandon Dorman

Best friends Angel and Krystal discover the secret of the snow angels. With that secret, they find many ways to joyously make a difference in the lives of others. Krystal and Angel show children and adults alike that we're never really alone when we're serving others—angels are closer than we might think.

An opportunity to teach young children about the gift of service to others during the holiday season, this story warms your heart.

The 13th Day of Christmas by Jason Wright

Marva Ferguson has a very personal Christmas tradition that happens every December 26. As an aging widow, the tradition means more to her now than it ever has.

Her newest neighbor, nine-year-old Charlee, loves Christmas too. But her family has fallen on hard times and things get worse when Charlee becomes critically ill.

Then, on December 12, Charlee makes a wonderful discovery. A mysterious note is delivered that promises twelve days of gifts and stories that will reveal the truth behind the beloved Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." As the days go by, the gifts hint at a possible lost lyric. Was there once a 13th day of Christmas? And if so, could its magic change—or save—a life?

If Marva knows something about the "letters from the Elves," she's not telling. However, you don't live as long as Marva Ferguson and not have a secret or two—including a whole lot of faith—in your apron pocket.

Filled with laughter, tenderness, and hope, The 13th Day of Christmas invites us to see how an old Christmas favorite can become a true Christmas miracle.


And, of course, you should always read the true Christmas story found in the scriptures. Check out our article on Advent for a more in-depth list of scriptures to study this holiday season to focus more on Christ.

Your turn: What's your favorite Christmas story? Did we miss any that you would add to the list?

© LDS Living, 2011.
Comments 2 comments

ccollett said...

08:54 PM
on Dec 01, 2011

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I've just discovered the recently-released book, "Somethin' Warm for Christmas", by Sharon Crites. It's available on Amazon.com and is just a short paperback. It's a quick read, but very well-written, with a story line that just seems to stick with you, similar to "Christmas Jars."

kma3241 said...

10:57 PM
on Dec 01, 2011

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Our family tradition is to read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." When our children were at home we'd read a chapter after dinner; now that they have their own families we read on Sundays when we get together for dinner. It's an especially fun book for those who have participated in Christmas pageants.
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