Does your family love to read books together? We do too! We love classics, and books that bring us beautiful life lessons through story. In December, we love books that help us meditate on the deeper meaning of the Advent season, rather than on our Christmas lists! (The struggle is real. Right? Please, someone, tell me you can relate!)
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
An absolute classic. You can't go wrong with Charles Dickens! Our family read this together last year, and it was so fun to see the kids' reactions to each ghost. Originally published on December 19th, 1843, it took only 6 weeks for Dickens to write, and was his first work published as a novel rather than serialized in a newspaper. It sold out in the first week! Victoria and Albert were popularizing a new tradition of the Christmas tree, so the culture of "modern" Christmas was growing rapidly in England -- a perfect time for Dickens to introduce A Christmas Carol!
Dickens cared deeply about the plight of the underdogs of his time -- orphans, men and women working off their debts in squalid workhouses, and more. This short novel perfectly reminds children to avoid selfishness during the Advent season, and to think of others who are in need.
We love this gorgeous, illustrated version of the classic tale. It's beautiful enough to be displayed on a coffee table, tempting kids of all ages to thumb through the pages and delight in the spirit of the holiday.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
This very short story (about a 20-minute reading time) by O. Henry will stick with your kids for quite some time. I personally first read it as a teenager (probably as a school assignment), and I still remember vividly Della and Jim's holiday gift-giving debaucle, and the lesson they learned through it.
Jim and Della are a young married couple, living in a shoddy New York apartment, barely scraping by when Christmas approaches. They are faced with the dilemma of finding a perfect gift to give one another on Christmas morning, on an almost non-existent budget. Della herself has only $1.87 after scrimping and saving - not nearly enough for the $21 gold chain for her husband's most prized possession -- an inherited pocket watch. Jim desperately wants to surprise Della as well, and gets creative in his means of obtaining the money needed for a beautiful purchase.
But it all takes a surprising turn in the end .... one that some might call a disaster, but as O. Henry says:
"....let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest."
Keep the story alive every Christmas with this beautiful illustrated version. Young readers and pre-readers will love to open its pages again and again and re-imagine the story as they gaze at the illustrations by P.J. Lynch.
A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy
Now, let me be clear: We haven't read this one yet. It's one of our read-aloud books for this Advent season. But it comes highly recommended by my book guru and best friend Ami, who has been homeschooling her kids for years and has a deep love for literature. She delights in watching her kids become avid readers, and I gobble up any books she recommends.
Little Peter is a very poor little boy living in Shantytown, when he meets a mysterious stranger who gives him a gift, opening his eyes to the beauty of nature outside his squalid little town. Soon all of Shantytown is transformed, with gardens planted, hinges fixes on hanging doors, and more. This is a story of the transformational power of hope (and sounds to me to be a bit allegorical to the story of Christ) -- perfect for the Advent season should you desire to connect more deeply to the spiritual side of Christmas.
These titles are also available through Amazon Audibles -- one of our favorite new tools we've been using as we school at home this year. It takes a little pressure off Mom and Dad's shoulders -- allowing us to sip a cup of coffee, join the kids in coloring, or work on embroidery while we listen (that last one is my little hobby, not Mike's!).
We'd love to hear what books you are reading this Advent season. Message us here and tell us what you are reading and why you love it. Your review just might be shared with our readers!