Short Christmas stories for children

Written by erik devaney
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Short Christmas stories for children
An example of a little fir tree, like the one in Andersen's story. (Getty Thinkstock)

For many families, along with decorating trees and exchanging presents, reading Christmas stories to children is a big part of the holiday tradition. In addition to being entertaining, many of these stories also have lessons or morals to offer. Some of the most popular short Christmas stories for children include, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," "The Fir Tree, " "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "The Polar Express."

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A visit from St. Nicholas

More commonly known by the name "Twas the Night Before Christmas," author Clement Clarke Moore penned the story, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," in 1822. However, according to Carols.org, he would not claim ownership of the work until 1844, as he wanted the story's author to remain anonymous during its publication. Moore wrote the story in poetic form, and it follows a strict AA BB rhyme scheme (meaning the first two lines of each verse rhyme with each other, as do the last two). The story follows a pipe-smoking St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) on Christmas Eve, as he visits a family with his reindeer and sleigh and delivers presents.

The fir tree

The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen originally published "The Fir Tree" in 1844, in his collection of short stories titled "New Fairy Tales," according to GoodReads.com. The story centres on a small evergreen that is eager to grow up and experience the future, instead of appreciating the present. While the small tree gets to enjoy some of this future excitement, when it is cut down and used for a Christmas decoration, in the end it dries out and is cut up for firewood.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

While many individuals have heard of the song and the film "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," they may not know that the story has its origins in a 1939 assignment that the department store chain Montgomery Ward gave to copywriter Robert L. May. According to the Christmas Library website, the store had always distributed a seasonal Christmas booklet, but in 1939 they decided to save money by producing it themselves (and having one of their own write it). May's story focuses on a reindeer that is born with a glowing red nose, which makes him an outcast from the rest of the reindeer community. However, eventually Rudolph's frequently teased attribute helps save Christmas.

The polar express

Chris Van Allsburg wrote and illustrated the 1985 book, "The Polar Express." The storyline follows a young boy on Christmas Eve, as he travels to the North Pole on board a mysterious train known as the Polar Express. The theme of the story centres on belief, both in Santa Claus and the supernatural in general, which is exemplified by a reindeer bell (which the boy acquires from Santa) that rings only for believers.

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