The best Christmas books to read to each other at a fireside

Why am I passionate about this?

When our two boys hit their difficult years around age seven or eight and the other kids at school were starting to doubt Santa Claus, they began to ask questions about how he operated. Luckily I had answers, which became, eventually, The Christmas Chronicles. Now that I was outed as a Santa supporter, I started doing Christmas readings here and there, including every year on a radio holiday show for Access Utah, a PBS affiliate. That’s given me the delightful task of seeking out all kinds of Yuletide literature. These are a few of my favorites. 


I wrote...

The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus

By Tim Slover,

Book cover of The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus

What is my book about?

In this new holiday classic, Tim Slover crafts a marvelous, magical novel about how Santa Claus became the man he is today. After reading The Christmas Chronicles, you’ll believe all over again in the magic of the season.
 
Snow is falling, and the clock ticks toward midnight on Christmas Eve while countless children, too excited to sleep, anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. But in Tim Slover’s deeply charming and utterly thrilling new novel, that’s the end rather than the beginning of the story. In this richly imagined tale of Santa’s origins, the man in full finally emerges. The Christmas Chronicles is at once an action-packed adventure, an inspiring story of commitment and faith, and a moving love story.
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Christmas Carol

Tim Slover Why did I love this book?

This is, of course, the classic of classics when it comes to Christmas literature, but with so many stage and screen adaptations out there—headlined by everyone from George C. Scott to the Muppets—have you read the actual novella? And if you have, how long has it been? I urge you to read or re-read Dickens’s glorious, terrifying, funny, heart-wrenching tale that asserts forcefully that the Spirit(s) of Christmas can actually redeem our hearts—which I, at least, urgently need at the turning of the solstice.

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked A Christmas Carol as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Tom Baker reads Charles Dickens' timeless seasonal story.

Charles Dickens' story of solitary miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, has become one of the timeless classics of English literature. First published in 1843, it introduces us not only to Scrooge himself, but also to the memorable characters of underpaid desk clerk Bob Cratchit and his poor family, the poorest amongst whom is the ailing and crippled Tiny Tim.

In this captivating recording, Tom Baker delivers a tour-de-force performance as he narrates the story. The listener…


Book cover of Lime Creek

Tim Slover Why did I love this book?

Henry is a poet, lyricist, novelist, and rancher from Woody Creek, Colorado. His whole memoir/novel, Lime Creek, is a miniature masterpiece, but I want to draw your attention to the part of it about Christmas. He and John Denver—Denver called Henry his brother—created Christmas gatherings in a barn for several years. In this excerpt set in Wyoming, he imagines one of those gatherings through the eyes of a young boy, Luke. Luke is there with his younger brother, Whitney, his older brother, Lonny, and his mother and father, Elizabeth and Spencer. And the two younger brothers are inspired to try an experiment from an old, old tradition, that on Christmas Eve, animals are given the gift of speech. 

By Joe Henry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lime Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this wonderful work of fiction, Joe Henry explores the complex relationship between a father and his sons, whose deep connections to one another, to the land, and to the creatures that inhabit it give meaning to their lives.

Spencer Davis, his wife, Elizabeth, and their sons, Luke, Whitney, and Lonny, work with horses and with their hands. They spend long relentless days cutting summer hay and feeding it to their cattle through fierce Wyoming winters. The family bears witness to the cycle of life, bringing foals into the world and deciding when to let a favored mare pass on…


Book cover of The Wind in the Willows

Tim Slover Why did I love this book?

The Wind in the Willows is the most preposterously convincing book ever written about animals who can talk and wear waistcoats and operate boats while still maintaining their essential animal natures. It is also a heady mixture of high adventure and serious mysticism. The Christmas chapter, “Dulce Domum,” can stand alone from the rest of the book, and it’s a must-read every December. Mole and Rat want to spend a jolly Christmas at Mole’s old place—but they have to find it first in all the snow. If you’re like me, this will make you appreciate home, however humble.

By Kenneth Grahame,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Wind in the Willows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Spend a season on the river bank and take a walk on the wild side . . .

Spring is in the air and Mole has found a wonderful new world. There's boating with Ratty, a feast with Badger and high jinx on the open road with that reckless ruffian, Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The four become the firmest of friends, but after Toad's latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels?

PLUS A behind-the-scenes journey, including author profile, a guide to who's who, activities and more.


Book cover of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Tim Slover Why did I love this book?

This book is as much a modern Christmas classic as Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is a Victorian one. Remember when churches or communities put on Christmas Nativity plays with kids playing all the roles? Barbara Robinson conjures just such an event when the horrible Hurdmans invade the sacrosanct precincts of the annual play and take over a lot of the roles. Sometimes this book makes me howl with laughter; sometimes it chokes me up—depending on what kind of year it’s been.

By Barbara Robinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Best Christmas Pageant Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.

Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.”

The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids. You and your family will laugh along with this funny story, perfect for independent reading or read-aloud sharing.

Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie,…


Book cover of Letters from Father Christmas

Tim Slover Why did I love this book?

Yes, that J.R.R. Tolkien. Each year he took a break from Middle-earth to write and illustrate incredible letters from Father Christmas to his and Edith’s four children, John, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla. Being Tolkien, he created an entire polar world and history in the letters, which feature elves, goblins—who launch a major attack one year—and Father Christmas’s great assistant and companion, North Polar Bear. Here is a high Yuletide adventure from the fantasy Master, himself. And somehow reading it makes you feel more creative yourself.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters from Father Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

This beautiful, deluxe slipcased edition of Tolkien's famous illustrated letters from Father Christmas to his children includes for the first time every available letter, picture and envelope that he sent them, reproduced in glorious colour. The perfect Christmas gift for Tolkien lovers of all ages.

This classic festive book of Tolkien's amazing Father Christmas letters written to his children between the 1920s and the 1940s has been reworked into a sumptuous, new deluxe edition. It contains brand new high-quality digital reproductions of his wonderful letters and pictures, including a number of them that have never been printed before, a revised…


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Book cover of The Woman at the Wheel

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

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"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cäcilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love—with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his plans, a dicey move since they alone believe in the machine. When Carl's partners threaten to withdraw their support, he's ready to cut ties. Bertha knows the decision would ruin everything. Ignoring the cynics, she takes matters into her own hands, secretly planning a scheme that will either hasten the family's passage to absolute derision or prove their genius. What Bertha doesn't know is that Carl is on the cusp of making a deal with their nemesis. She's not only risking her marriage and their life's work, but is also up against the patriarchy, Carl's own self-doubt, and the clock.

Like so many other women, Bertha lived largely in her husband's shadow, but her contributions are now celebrated in this inspiring story of perseverance, resilience, and love.

The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

What is this book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cacilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

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