“Christmas School” is always an important part of the school year around here. We spend two to three weeks annually, learning about Christmas customs and traditions, reading Christmas books, and making Christmas crafts. Our handwriting, copywork, dictation, and memory work assignments are also always Christmas related, usually in the form of Bible passages. We still do our regular math, as well as Latin review, but pretty much everything else is Christmas-themed.
This year, instead of the focus being on “Christmas Around the World” as it has been for the last three years, we’re looking at “Christmas Through American History,” (since we’re studying American history this year). It has been a little more challenging putting together a book list this time around, because it’s harder to pinpoint specific parts of American history through Christmas literature. I think it’s turned out OK, though, and we’re having a great time reading some fantastic books!
Read-Alouds–Organized by the year in which the story is set and/or the year in which it was written/published.
- Christmas in America: A History
- Christmas in Williamsburg–1600s to present
- Felicity’s Surprise–1774 (This, and the other American Girl “Surprise” books will be read aloud only for the “Looking Back: Christmas In…” chapter in the back of each. For the actual characters’ stories, the books will go in the book basket after we’ve learned about Christmas in that time period.)
- An Early American Christmas–Out of print, but if you can find it at the library, it’s a nice look at a colonial New England Christmas.
- The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon aka The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving–early 1819-20 (The Christmas Stories)
- The Night Before Christmas or A Visit From St. Nicholas–1823*
- Josefina’s Surprise–1824
- A Pioneer Sampler and A Pioneer Christmas–1840-41 (These stories are actually about Canadian Pioneers, but they’re still relevant to American history, in that their strugglers on the frontier are similar to what American families faced.)
- Kirsten’s Surprise–1854
- Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury–mid 1800s
- Addy’s Surprise–1864
- Selections from the Little House, (Little House in the Big Woods‘ “Christmas,” Little House on the Prairie‘s “Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus,” Farmer Boy‘s “Christmas,” On the Banks of Plum Creek‘s “Christmas Horses,” “A Merry Christmas,” “Surprise,” and “Christmas Eve,” By the Shores of Silver Lake‘s “Christmas Eve,” “The Night Before Christmas,” and “Merry Christmas,” The Long Winter‘s “Merry Christmas,” “The Christmas Barrel,” and “Christmas in May,” and These Happy Golden Years‘ “The Night Before Christmas”), and Grandma’s Attic, (In Grandma’s Attic‘s “Little Gray Shoes,” and Treasures from Grandma‘s “Christmas Spirit,”), series–post-Civil war to late 1800s
- Yes, Virginia: There is a Santa Claus–1897*
- Samantha’s Surprise–1904
- O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi–1906
- Kit’s Surprise–1934
- The Carpenter’s Gift–Great Depression to present
- Molly’s Surprise–1944
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas–1957*
- The Polar Express–1985*
- Jotham’s Journey (This and the following two books are part of an Advent series by Arnold Ytreeide)
- Bartholomew’s Passage
- Tabitha’s Travels (This is our Advent read-aloud for this year)
- The Jesse Tree Kit (This, along with Tabitha’s Travels, is our other daily religion read-aloud for the Advent season–each day has a short narration as well as a corresponding Bible passage to read.)
- The Very First Christmas
- Three Wise Women of Christmas
- The Visit of the Wise Men
- Fear Not, Joseph!
- The Crippled Lamb
- From Heaven Above
- The First Christmas
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
Book Basket Books–(These are any Christmas books we happened to have in the house, some from past “Christmas Around the World” units, and some from previous curriculum, or just for fun!)
- The Family Under the Bridge
- The Light at Tern Rock
- The Autobiography of Santa Claus*
- How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas*
- A Christmas Carol (This is a wonderful edition, with beautiful illustrations, and a bonus short story!)
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker
- Christmas in the Trenches
- The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories
- The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book
- Too Many Tamales
*These books are more Santa-heavy than I would usually allow, but they are either culturally relevant to American history, (such as The Night Before Christmas and Yes, Virginia: There is a Santa Claus, which are poems/stories everyone should be familiar with), or good at telling part of American history, (like How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, which deals with Christmas in the New World).
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