Classic Read-Aloud Christmas Poems

penguin at Christmas‘Tis the season and all that. When I was growing up, Christmas Eve was the night that my grandmother reserved for telling the very best stories from her Italian repetoire. No matter how we begged and pleaded to hear Leo Bruno or other Italian fairy tales the rest of the year, she always insisted that they were too long to tell any other night of the year but Christmas Eve, the longest night of the year. So to me, Christmas Eve has always held, in addition to the promise of Santa and all those presents, the magical anticipation of hearing the very best stories that the year has to offer. In that tradition, I offer a list of the best Christmas poems to read aloud on Christmas Eve, to make those hours pass more quickly and send children off to bed with visions of sugar plums and the sound of poetry delighting their ears.

Twas the Night Before Christmas
Clement Clark Moore
In 1823, the New York Sentinel published an anonymous poem that was to become one of the most famous Christmas poems of all times, and redefine the way that jolly old Saint Nick was seen. The poem was an immediate hit, and Twas the Night Before Christmas is a traditional Christmas Eve reading in millions of homes around the world.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dr. Seuss
Theodore Seuss Geisel, the man known to millions of children and their parents as Dr. Seuss, first published How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957. It became an instant classic, and its subsequent translation into a television Christmas special featuring the voice of Boris Karloff introduced it to a whole new generation of children. This year, read the poem aloud to your kids BEFORE you watch the show and watch their faces light up with the spirit of Christmas.

Dominic, The Italian Christmas Donkey
So it’s not a classic poem – but I grew up hearing about Dominic, the little donkey that pulls Santa’s sleigh in Italy because the reindeer can’t climb the hills of Italy. Enjoy!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Robert May
We all know and love the tale of plucky Rudolph who saved Christmas one foggy Christmas Eve, but there’s more to the story. Read about how the character of Rudolph was created, and the man who created him. There’s actually a bit of the Christmas spirit in the idea of a huge department store giving back the right to publish Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the man who created it to help him through a time of desperate need.

A Wish for Wings That Work
Berkely Breathed
Opus, the adorable, practical penguin from Bloom County has one Christmas wish – wings that work so he can fly on Christmas morning. The book was made into a Christmas special in 1991 and airs every year, but share it with your special little ones in book form. The pictures are pure magic, as are the delightful words.

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