Finding Christmassy books to read to your class or for use in your classroom display about this Christian festival can be relatively easy. The mains bookshops all display their new books and the old favourites in the window from mid-November.
It is, however, good to be discerning and I have found the following books to be interesting, funny, engaging and a great place to start a class discussion about what we are celebrating, observing if we do not take a full part and why.
My top 5 Christmas books for the primary classroom
1. Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas by John Burningham
It’s Christmas Eve and there is one present left in Father Christmas’s sack. It’s for a small boy called Harvey Slumfenburger, who lives far, far away on top of the Roly Poly Mountain. But no journey is too far for Father Christmas!
2. Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou
In this beautiful, deeply moving poem, Maya Angelou inspires us to embrace the peace and promise of Christmas, so that hope and love can once again light up our holidays and the world. “Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers, look heavenward,” she writes, “and speak the word aloud. Peace.”
3. The Legend of Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Noche Buena flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, with the red of the flower brightening the countryside. A Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. Tomie dePaola has embraced the legend using his own special feeling for Christmas. His glorious paintings capture not only the brilliant colours of Mexico and its art but also the excitement of the children preparing for Christmas.
4. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
The story of a poor little girl wandering the streets on New Year’s Eve. In an attempt to keep warm, she strikes the matches she’s supposed to be selling and each time she does so, beautiful visions of warmth and love appear before her. And ultimately, the visions lead her to a place with no more cold, fear, or hunger. Magical.
5. Letters from Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien
Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or painting. The letters were from Father Christmas.
They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more.
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