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Holiday stories keep minds off hard times

December 12, 2008

Does this season of "recession" and "bailout" have you feeling a bit Scroogey?

You are not the only one. And this isn't the first time in history that Christmas has been a little less than jolly for the masses.

You could always remind yourself of the true spirit of Christmas by reading (or rereading) the classic story about holiday hard times. Since its publication, "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens has been a source of hopefulness during even the bleakest holiday seasons. This novel of a mean-spirited miser who finds hope and kindness has helped shape the meaning of Christmas spirit.

But it doesn't stand alone. Come by the library for one of these books of holiday spirit to share with the whole family:

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  • "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson (chapter book)

    The six mean Herdman kids lie, swear, steal, smoke cigars - even the girls - and then become involved in the community Christmas pageant.

  • "Christmas in the Barn" by Margaret Wise Brown (picture book)

    Lyrical text relates the birth of a child in a barn with illustrations that depict the barn and people of a present-day farm.

  • "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" by Susan Wojciechowski

    The widow McDowell and her 7-year-old son Thomas ask the gruff Jonathan Toomey, the best wood-carver in the valley, to carve figures for a Christmas creche.

  • "A Christmas Treasury: Twelve Unforgettable Holiday Stories" by various authors (short stories and excerpts)

    This collection includes classics like "Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry and "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus," a letter to the editor by 8-year-old child and the editor's response.

  • "The Christmas Tree Ship" by Jeanette Winter (picture book)

    Each winter, Captain Herman fills his fishing schooner with Christmas trees, sails down Lake Michigan, and delivers the trees to the residents of Chicago.

  • "Latkes and applesauce: a Hanukkah story" by Fran Manushkin (picture book)

    When a blizzard foils a family dinner one Hanukkah, the family shares what little food they have with some starving animals who later return the favor.

    "The Little Fir Tree" by Margaret Wise Brown (picture book)

    In this tale written by the legendary children's author, a man digs up a little fir tree and takes it home to his son, who is lame.

  • "The Magic Maguey" by Tony Johnston (picture book)

    Miguel creates a plan to save his favorite plant, and in the true spirit of Christmas, receives help from his friends to accomplish that.

  • "The Miracle of the First Poinsettia" by Joanne Oppenheim (picture book)

    Juanita wants to bring a gift to the Christ child, but has no pesos. A stone angel suggests Juanita bring weeds to the midnight mass. Then weeds turn into poinsettias: a true gift of the heart.

  • "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg (picture book)

    A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus.

  • "Winter Lights: a season in poems & quilts" by Anna Grossnickle Hines (picture book)

    With breathtaking, intricate quilts and lyrical poems, Hines exposes readers to holidays such as Kwanzaa and the Festival of Lights along with the seasonal winter solstice.

    Catherine Hall is children's librarian with the Washington County Free Library.

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