This is the first year that my choice of Christmas music has been squashed by those who share the sound waves around me. In past years, my husband couldn’t successfully dissuade me from playing my favorite Christmas tunes in every room of our home and on every car trip short or long. Oh he tried. But this year, on Thanksgiving Day (the agreed upon starting date for playing of holiday tunes), my darling Preschool Bookworm declared: “I don’t like this music, mama. Don’t like it! This music’s boring.” A compromise was in order, so I was delighted to find that our favorite children’s musician, the Laurie Berkner Band, released a highly reviewed holiday album. Peace restored.
We were further charmed to find that the final track of said album is a reading of “The Night Before Christmas.” I feared that Preschool Bookworm would rule the recitation boring like my style of holiday tunes, but far from it. He sat entranced by the reading from start to finish.
Behold the beauty of poetry, balm to the tension of the holiday season.
Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a child (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1988 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.
Title/author: The Night Before Christmas or A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Moore.
Copyright date: 1823
Plot in a Sentence (or two): I doubt you need a plot summary for this famous tale. It was originally published anonymously in a New York newspaper, The Troy Sentinel after having been submitted by the author’s family friend; Clement Moore acknowledged authorship in 1844.
Why It’s Timeless: Poetry has such a powerful effect. I love this quote from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease:
“It’s obvious that children find pleasure in words that rhyme. The question is: Why? Researchers say the pleasure is identical to the reasons humans subconsciously enjoy looking at stripes and plaids, or listening to musical harmony– they help to arrange a chaotic world” (2001, p.62).
The poem draws you into its exciting tale, inviting listeners to create mental images, an important comprehension skill. It’s the clandestine meeting that all children dream of- catching a glimpse of Santa at work in their very own home.
Just for Fun: There are hundreds of illustrated versions of the poem, and hundreds of spin-offs & parodies. For the original poem, you’ll find them all in the same section of your library since they are all authored by the same person. In our library, they were at least a dozen versions all next to each other in the picture book section. Super easy to choose one whose artwork appeals to your bookworm! My Preschool Bookworm was most drawn to the version illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson. I, however, love the detailed illustrations of Jan Brett’s version (which is out of print but may be available at your library). I shared my love of her artwork in last week’s Throwback Thursday featuring The Gingerbread Baby.
Books mentioned in this post should be readily available at your public library, or at the Amazon affiliate links provided.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night of reading!