Fifteen Holiday Jewels... plus a few more
Christmas and General Holiday Web Resources
- 20 FAMOUS CHRISTMAS TALES: https://osr.org/blog/tips-gifts/20-famous-christmas-stories/
- 20 CHRISTMAS STORIES ONLINE: https://teaandinksociety.com/classic-christmas-short-stories-read-online/
- 30 CHRISTMAS TALES: https://medium.com/the-mission/the-30-best-christmas-books-of-all-time-c492c468051b
- OPRAH’S TOP 35: https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/tv-movies/g28737773/best-christmas-books/
- ABE BOOKS TOP 100: https://americanliterature.com/christmas
- LOUISA MAY ALCOTT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisa_May_Alcott
- DLYAN THOMAS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylan_Thomas
- LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Maud_Montgomery
- WASHINGTON IRVING: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Irving
- TRUMAN CAPOTE: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/truman-capote-about-the-author/58/
- L. FRANK BAUM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Frank_Baum
- E. T. A. HOFFMANN: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._T._A._Hoffmann
- HENRY VAN DYKE, Jr.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_van_Dyke_Jr.
- WILLA CATHER: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willa_Cather
- O. HENRY (William Sydney Porter): https://www.biography.com/writer/william-sydney-porter
- SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Conan_Doyle
- BROTHERS GRIMM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_Grimm
- PEARL S. BUCK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_S._Buck
- ANTON CHEKHOV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Chekhov
- SELMA LAGERLOF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_Lagerl%C3%B6f
- HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Christian_Andersen
- CHARLES DICKENS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens
- LEO TOLSTOY: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Tolstoy
- FRANCES BROWNE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Browne
- OSCAR WILDE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde
- MAYA ANGELOU: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Angelou
- ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Bashevis_Singer
A Selection of Recommended Reading
Hanukkah Web Resources
- HANUKKAH STORIES: https://www.readbrightly.com/picture-books-for-hanukkah/
- FAVORITE HANUKKAH BOOKS: https://www.momsrising.org/blog/our-favorite-hanukkah-books
- EIGHT PICTURE BOOKS (Barnes and Noble): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/the-best-hanukkah-books-for-kids/
- BOOKS FOR HANUKKAH (young readers and adults): https://www.buzzfeed.com/haleyneil/jewish-books-to-read-this-hanukkah
- 31 GREAT RECIPES FOR HANUKKAH: https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/hanukkah-dinner-recipes
Kwanzaa Web Resources
- RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR KWANZAA: https://bookriot.com/books-about-kwanzaa/
- BEST BOOKS FOR KIDS: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/the-5-best-kwanzaa-books-for-kids/
- 25 GREAT RECIPIES FOR KWANZAA: https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/g38411268/kwanzaa-recipes/
Fifteeen and more...
THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER Hans Christian AndersonThe Steadfast Tin Soldier is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a tin soldier and his love for a paper ballerina. The Steadfast Tin Soldier was the first tale Andersen wrote that had neither a literary model nor a folk tale source but is straight from Andersen’s imagination. It marked a new independence in his writing, and successfully brought to life the nineteenth century nursery world with its toy dancers, castles, and swans.
A KIDNAPPED SANTA CLAUS L. Frank BaumIn this fantasy Christmas tale by the author of The Wizard of Oz, Santa lives in a castle in the Laughing Valley. Santa has helpers, but he also has enemies, and on Christmas Eve he’s lassoed out of his sleigh by five daemons. This short story is a follow-up to Baum’s longer novel, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO Frances BrowneFrances Browne (January 16, 1816 – 1879) was a blind Irish poet and novelist, best remembered for her collection of short stories for children: Granny’s Wonderful Chair, of which The Christmas Cuckoo is a part. It is a richly imaginative book of fairy stories and has been translated into many languages. In Granny’s Wonderful Chair there are seven stories, set in an interesting framework that tells of the adventures of the little girl Snowflower and her chair at the court of King Winwealth. From beginning to end it is filled with pictures; each little tale has its own picturesque setting, its own vividly realized scenery.
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY Truman CapoteThis short memoir is based on Capote’s childhood Christmas traditions, which he enjoys with his elderly cousin in rural Alabama.
THE BURGLAR’S CHRISTMAS Willa CatherWritten under the pen name Elizabeth L. Seymour, Cather’s story is a retelling of the prodigal son parable, set in Chicago on Christmas Eve. Cather started out as a writer of poetry and short stories; she published “The Burglar’s Christmas” when she was 23, a good 15 years before her first novel.
THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH Charles DickensLike all of Dickens's Christmas books, it was published in book form, not as a serial. Dickens described the novel as "quiet and domestic [...] innocent and pretty." It is subdivided into chapters called "Chirps", similar to the "Quarters" of The Chimes or the "Staves" of A Christmas Carol. It is the third of Dickens's five Christmas books, preceded by A Christmas Carol (1843) and The Chimes (1844), and followed by The Battle of Life (1846) and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848).
THE BLUE CARBUNCLE Sir Arthur Conan DoyleFancy a Christmas-y mystery? The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930), and is the seventh story of twelve in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The plot revolves around a rare blue carbuncle (a type of semi-precious stone) going missing. Watson visits Holmes at Christmas time and finds him contemplating a battered old hat, brought to him by the commissionaire Peterson after the hat and a Christmas goose had been dropped by a man in a scuffle with some street ruffians. Peterson takes the goose home to eat it but comes back later with the carbuncle. His wife has found it in the bird’s throat. Holmes cannot resist a good mystery, and he and Watson set out across the city to determine exactly how the stolen jewel wound up in a Christmas goose.
THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER Grimm BrothersIn this familiar tale, a poor cobbler is rewarded for his honesty and hard work when two elves step in to save him from ruin.
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. HenryProbably one of the most famous Christmas short stories, this is the tale of a young married couple who desperately want to buy beautiful Christmas presents for each other, but lack the money to do so. They each make a sacrifice to buy the other a present, and the results are humorous and poignant.
CLARA AND THE NUTCRACKER E. T. A. HoffmannA.K.A. “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” Clara and the Nutcracker is a story written in 1816 by E. T. A. Hoffmann in which young Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls.
THE HOLY NIGHT Selma LagerlofOne cold winter’s night, a cruel and hard-hearted shepherd is amazed by some strange happenings. A man comes looking for wood for a fire to warm his wife and newborn baby, and following the man back to his cold grotto, the shepherd discovers the true spirit of Christmas. The Swedish writer Selma Lagerlof was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and most widely known for her children’s book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.
CHRISTMAS AT RED BUTTE Lucy Maud MontgomeryMontgomery was a prolific writer of short stories, and she has several Christmas and New Year’s stories in her bibliography. (Fourteen are collected here, along with Christmas excerpts from the Anne novels.) A departure from her usual setting of Prince Edward Island, “Christmas at Red Butte” takes place in a log cabin on the Saskatchewan prairie. Sixteen-year-old Theodora manages a home with her aunt, but as they struggle to make ends meet Theodora decides to make a great sacrifice in order to give her young cousins a happy Christmas.
CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MORNING Pearl S. BuckOriginally published in 1955, Christmas Day in the Morning is a heartwarming story about sacrifice and the spirit of giving. Pearl S. Buck was an award-winning American writer who spent the majority of her life in China. Her novel The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces. In Christmas Day in the Morning, Buck has captured the spirit of Christmas in this elegant, heartwarming story about a boy’s gift of love.
CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES Dylan ThomasDylan Thomas recounts memories of an old-fashioned Christmas from the perspective of a young boy. Thomas uses his skill as a poet to make this a lyrical and sense-engaging story.
THE PARAKEET NAMED DREIDEL Isaac Bashevis Singer When young David and Mama and Papa are celebrating Hanukkah one frosty winter evening in Brooklyn, Papa sees a parakeet sitting on the window ledge. He lets the parakeet in and everyone is delighted to find that it speaks Yiddish. They name it Dreidel and it becomes part of their family. Many years later, when David is in college, he is at a party one night and tells Dreidel's story—only to discover that Zelda, a young woman at the party, owned the bird herself as a child. Papa and Mama are worried that they will have to give their beloved pet back, but then David and Zelda decide to get married after college, and everyone agrees that they should take Dreidel with them as they start their own family.
THE SELFISH GIANT Oscar WildeThe Selfish Giant is a multi-layered short story that will appeal to both children and adults because of the depth of its meaning. For young children it can be read literally about a giant who is mean and whose garden refuses to grow. For older readers the religious symbolism can also be reflected upon as discussing themes such as selfishness and forgiveness. The meaning of the wall around the garden, symbolic of people shutting each other out can also be debated upon.
A Few Honorable Mentions
- Louisa May Alcott’s lovely A CHRISTMAS DREAM, AND HOW IT CAME TO BE TRUE is a truly pleasant read.
- Maya Angelou wrote a wonderful holiday poem for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in 2005. AMAZING PEACE is a beautiful book of verse.
- There’s Raymond Briggs classic tale: THE SNOWMAN.
- The 19th century blind Irish writer Frances Browne’s collection GRANNY’S WONDERFUL CHAIR, includes a beautiful holiday story titled: THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO.
- You might want to try the American novelist Willa Cather’s 1896 tale THE BURGLAR’S CHRISTMAS.
- The Grimm Brothers created an unusually warm-hearted story called THE ELVES AND THE SHOWMAKER, originally published in 1812.
- James Joyce created a beautifully written tale of love and loss during the holidays called THE DEAD, published as part of his collection THE DUBLINERS.
- Robert L. May’s much-adapted tale RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER was originally published in 1939 as a holiday book for Montgomery Ward shoppers.
- And then there’s Lucy Maud Montgomery’s CHRISTMAS AT RED BUTTE. If you enjoy her GREEN GABLES books, you might enjoy RED BUTTE.
- In 1902--the same year she published PETER RABBIT--Beatrix Potter also produced a charming holiday tale titled THE TAILOR OF GLOUCSTER.
- THE GREATEST GIFT is a 1943 short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern, loosely based on the Charles Dickens 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. It became the basis for the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.
- The 19th century English novelist Sir Anthony Trollope wrote a lovely Victorian period tale: CHRISTMAS AT THOMSON HALL
- The tiniest jewel of the day is a two-page letter by Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) to his daughter Susie that’s right up there with Francis Church’s editorial to Virginia O’Hanlon “Is There A Santa Claus?”
- Last--but not least--is a wonderful story for Kwanzaa called LI’L RABBITS KWANZAA by the American folklorist, storyteller, and children’s book writer Donna L. Washington. It’s an absolutely delightful and heart-warming tale of a little rabbit who seeks to find something special for his sick grandmother during Karamu, a Kwanzaa feast.