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Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

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Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby ilikebeans » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:36 am

So here's the deal: I need to find a short story to read to the niece/nephew (ages 8 and 10) during the time when Christmas dinner is a-brewing and they're getting squirrely.

I did the Grinch last year, and The Night Before Christmas is old hat for them. Ideally the reading time would be 10-15 minutes, but that's flexible if the story is compelling. I enjoy acting out the parts, and humor and sarcasm work well. However, the story should be appropriate to their ages, and be warm-hearted overall.

Ideas?
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby Igor » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:47 am

The Best Christmas Pagaent Ever is nice, but might be too long for your timeframe. (Probably not appropriate for religophobes)
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby kurt_w » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:38 am

O Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" is warm-hearted and the right length, but might not hold their attention unless they're a bit more serious-minded than most kids at that age. I read it aloud to my (then) 9-year old one Christmas. Kind of hard not to break into tears at the end, though.

There's a collection of Christmas-themed short stories here, and another one here. Most of them are probably too long, though, if you're thinking of something on the scale of the Grinch. I like their inclusion of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", which is one of my favorite Holmes stories, though I wouldn't have thought of it in this context.

Actually, though, what you really want is to find a copy of The Tall Book of Christmas. It was published in 1954 and the copies listed for sale online are all way too expensive. There's a copy in the SCLS library catalog, but unfortunately it's checked out through Dec. 26 (of course...). Maybe talk to a librarian and see if there's any possibility of getting a copy through interlibrary loan before the 25th? WorldCat shows dozens of copies in libraries in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

That collection has lots of great short stories for kids. Some of my favorites were:

Christmas through a knothole / Katharine Gibson
Giant Grummer's Christmas / William Dana Street
Granny Glittens and her amazing mittens / Gertrude Crampton
A Christmas for bears / Ray St. Clair
In the great walled country / Raymond MacDonald Alden

The latter two I was able to find online, but not the others.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby kurt_w » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:40 am

That Ray St Clair story, "A Christmas for Bears", might be a pretty good choice. Just ignore the cheesy background and "Jesus Lives" logo on that angelfire page.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby Stebben84 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:52 am

Gift of the Magi? It's heart warming, but I don't know how "humorous" it is. I guess you could make it funny. You could dress up half male, half female and act out the parts.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby kurt_w » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:25 am

The bean-liking one didn't actually say it had to be humorous.

But if you want humor, some of the other ones I listed are good options.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby Marvell » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:27 am

Dylan Thomas, "A Child's Christmas in Wales."

It's extremely funny, and has the added advantage of originally being written for radio - so reading it out loud is the ideal way to experience it.

Plus it has maybe my all-time favorite statement about faith:

...everything about the wasp but why.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby kittenwithawhip » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:01 pm

I prefer cautionary tales, I intend to regale my BFF's already jaded tykes with David Sedaris's "Dinah, the Christmas Whore". Well... maybe not for a couple more years, but they will certainly hear this one by Ogden Nash about naughty children who don't believe in Santa Claus. Particularly appropos as her boychild will only refer to Santa now in quotation marks:
http://www.westegg.com/nash/santa.html

Topped of by a liitle langniappe about why they can't have a dog:
CHRISTMAS DOG by SHEL SILVERSTEIN...

Tonight's my first night as a watchdog,
And here it is Christmas Eve.
The children are sleeping all cozy upstairs,
While I'm guardin' the stockin's and tree.

What's that now---footsteps on the rooftop?
Could it be a cat or a mouse?
Who's this down the chimney?
A thief with a beard---
And a big sack for robbin' the house?

I'm barkin', I'm growlin', I'm bitin' his butt.
He howls and jumps back in his sleigh.
I scare his strange horses, they leap in the air.
I've frightened the whole bunch away.

Now the house is all peaceful and quiet again.
The stockin's are safe as can be.
Won't the kiddies be glad when they wake up tomorrow
And see how I've guarded the tree!
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby kurt_w » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:17 pm

That's great...
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby Detritus » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:22 pm

There's always Jean Shepherd's Christmas Story, the one about the Red Ryder bb gun.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby kurt_w » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:39 pm

Or there's Arlo Guthrie's song about Santa Claus:

Let's get Santa Claus 'cause;
Santa Claus has a red suit
He's a communist
And a beard, and long hair
Must be a pacifist
What's in the pipe that he's smoking?

Mister Claus sneaks in your home at night ...


The intro to the song is pretty funny, too.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby ilikebeans » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:35 pm

Thanks for the ideas, everyone. I'll read through and hopefully find something that works well for the little whippersnappers.
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Re: Suggestions for a Christmas short story recital

Postby Mean Scenester » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:42 pm

Marvell wrote:Dylan Thomas, "A Child's Christmas in Wales."

It's extremely funny, and has the added advantage of originally being written for radio - so reading it out loud is the ideal way to experience it.

Absolutely this. My parents had an old, crackling LP of Dylan Thomas reading it and it was one of our few Christmas traditions to listen to it after the presents had been opened and the morning meal consumed. I can't remember a childhood Christmas without it. A few years ago my sisters and I were given CD versions of it and Marvell's post is a good reminder that it's perhaps time to start playing this annually so my own kids can start to appreciate it (they're probably too young now, but indoctrinate early, I say).

Perhaps my favorite line, from the description of the Useful Presents:

[A]nd once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us.


Read the whole thing here.
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