While I enjoy a good picture book any day of the year, I find Christmas stories especially fun to read. The following are three of my favorite Christmas legend stories.
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola is a story centered on the Mexican tradition of bringing gifts to the Christ child during the Christmas Eve procession. Young Lucida is heartbroken when her family is without a gift on Christmas Eve, and she ends up bringing an armful of weeds to the manger. This simple gift combined with a Christmas miracle created the Christmas flower we know today as the poinsettia.
Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins and illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov shares the Russian folktale of the old peasant woman’s (Baboushka) endless search for the Christ child. This book is the 1961 winner of the Caldecott medal.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney tells the story of a Christmas memory of a young girl from the Appalachian Mountains. In the midst of hard times, Ruthie’s hope and faith and her parents’ determination helped create a very perfect Christmas one year for the people of Pine Grove.
After sharing some of these stories with your class, you may want to extend the activity into a writing lesson and have your students create their own Christmas legend stories.
IRA’s ReadWriteThink site has a lesson with some helpful worksheets and handouts that guide students as they create their own Porquoi Stories: Creating Tales to Tell Why. This could be easily adapted to fit with the holiday theme and would provide students with some creative experiences as they imagine the stories about how Christmas symbols came to be.