Holiday Storytelling - activities

Scroll down for activity suggestion to go with each story session.  Books are listed in alphbetically order by title


 Auntie Claus

by Elise Primavera

When her eccentric Auntie Claus leaves for her annual business trip, Sophie stows away in her luggage, travels with her to the North Pole, and discovers that her aunt is really Santa's sister and helper.


Follow-up Activity




Bubba, the Cowboy Prince

by Helen Ketteman

Loosely based on "Cinderella," this story is set in Texas, the fairy godmother is a cow, and the hero, named Bubba, is the stepson of a wicked rancher.


Followup Activity

Lesson 1

Lesson 2


Grinch who Stole Christmas

by Dr. Seuss

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! / Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason." Dr. Seuss's small-hearted Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to the crankiest, scowling holiday grumps of all time.


Follow-up Activities




Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

By Eric Kimmel

What are the poor villagers to do? The holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are bound and determined to ruin yet another Hanukkah for them. Every year the beasties snuff out the menorah candles, destroy the dreidels, and pitch the potato latkes on the floor. But these wicked wet blankets never counted on someone as clever as Hershel of Ostropol showing up.


Follow up Activities


The Jolly Christmas Postman

by Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman returns with a pouch overflowing with holiday cheer--letters from the Big Bad Wolf, a miniature book, a terrible board game, even a Humpty Dumpty jigsaw puzzle, and more, all tucked into envelopes bound right into the book.


Followup Activities

Sleeping Beauty




The Lady in the Box

 By Ann McGovern

A modern morality tale that never strays too far from the stark reality of homelessness while portraying the generosity and concern of two children for a stranger. Written in direct, disarming prose, Ben's story tells how he and his sister try to help the "lady in the box" who keeps her "home" over the heating grate outside the Circle Deli.


Followup Activities



El mejor regalo del mundo

by Julia Alvarez

Renowned Latina author Julia Alvárez recreates the legend of Dominican folk character La Vieja Belén in this delightful bilingual rhyming story, beautifully illustrated by Dominican artist Ruddy Nuñez. Alvarez's retelling keeps the magic of the traditional account while contributing a down-to-earth, timely moral: "Of all the gifts you can give, your time is the best."



by Margie Palatini

This charming verse story, told in a singsong rhythm, stars a moose who is determined that his family's Christmas will be "perfectly perfect." Moose "shopped till he dropped. Check," and "baked tons of tins of cookies. Check,"--but in his haste he completely forgets to buy a Christmas tree.


Followup Activities


Night Before Christmas

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..." 


Follow-up Activities



Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg

A boy takes a magic night-time journey on a train to the North Pole


Follow-up Activities



In The Polar Express, a boy takes a magic night-time journey on a train to the North Pole. The illustrations are very dark and almost all of the colors in them are dark. The darkness shows that it's night, but it also creates the feeling that something unusual and mysterious is going on.

However, within the darkness, the pictures also show a special kind of light: a strong, glowing light that shines through the darkness. It's warm and comforting, and adds a magical feeling. The brightness catches your eye. First the light shines in through the window onto the boy's pajamas. When you turn the page, the light shines from the train's windows and front headlight onto thousands of tiny snowflakes. 

But some of the pictures don't have any strong light.   Do they feel different from the ones that do? Are they sleepier? Calmer? Sadder? How would this book be different without the glowing light?


Dear Friend,

I received your e-mail and I want to thank you for taking the time to write me.  I wish I could write you back and thank each one of you personally.  Unfortunately, if I did I wouldn't have any time to do my favorite activity which is, thinking. 

Alone, quietly in my studio, I think and imagine all sorts of things.  Every book I've written and some of my best ideas for problem solving come from simple day dreaming.

When a playmate of my daughter, Anna asked her,"What does your daddy do?"  She replied, factually, "He thinks."

Since thinking is what I do, I am not able to answer all my mail, but I do love receiving it and am so lucky to have heard from you. 


                                      Yours truly,




Queen of Christmas

by Mary Engelbreit

During the seven days before Christmas, Ann Estelle engages in fun activities like baking cookies and going ice-skating. Most importantly, she continues to add items to the wish list that she has been keeping since last year. On Christmas day, she finally realizes that it's the fun she has had with family and friends, and not the presents, that is the most important part of the holiday.


Follow up Activities


Shall I Knit You a Hat?

by Kate & Sarah Klise

When Mother Rabbit hears that a blizzard is expected to hit on Christmas Eve, she knits Little Rabbit a hat that shows off his long, beautiful ears. He loves it, and suggests that they give their animal friends hats as Christmas presents. 



Silver Packages, An Appalachian Christmas Story
by Cynthia Rylant

Every year at Christmas a rich man rides a train through Appalachia and throws gifts to the poor children who are waiting, in order to repay a debt he owes the people who live there.



Please share these comments from the author with your students:

This story was inspired by two true events. One is the annual trip through the Appalachian mountains by the "Santa Train." Each year volunteers throw packages from the train to the children living in the hills and hollows who don't have much. The train started visiting in 1940 and has been "Santa" ever since.

And the second true event which inspired SILVER PACKAGES was my own longing as a child. I was living with my grandparents, who didn't have much money. They took me to a place where poor children were given one Christmas present apiece. I saw a nurse kit and really wanted it, for my mother was away studying to become a nurse. But another child ahead of me chose the kit, and I didn't get one.


Post Conference

Visit this website & evaluate the summary of this story


A Southern Time Christmas

By Robert Bernardini

When a Southern farmer discovers an elf who has fallen from Santa's sleigh, the elf tells him about Santa's annual trip to the South.


Followup Activities


Tacky the Penguin

By Helen Lester

None of the penguins can tolerate Tacky's loud habits--until they scare off a pack of hunters.


Follow-up Activities

Lesson 1

Lesson 2



Texas Night Before Christmas

Then from out of the north the breeze gave a stir; An icy cold blast swirled the fog in a blur.


Follow-up Activities




Trees of the Dancing Goat

by Patrician Poloco

the simple story of a Jewish girl, Trisha, and her Christian neighbors, whose bout with scarlet fever at Christmas threatens to ruin Trisha's Hanukkah. Trisha and her family respond with a loving gesture that is rewarded in kind


Follow Up Activities 




Too Many Tamales?

By Gary Soto

Maria is feeling so grown-up, wearing her mother's apron and helping to knead the masa for the Christmas corn tamales. Her mother even let Maria wear some perfume and lipstick for the big family celebration that evening. When her mother takes off her diamond ring so it won't become coated with the messy masa, Maria decides that life would be perfect if she could wear the ring, too. Trouble begins when she sneakily slips the sparkly ring on her thumb and resumes her kneading. Uh oh. It is not until later that night, after all the tamales have been cooked and after all her cousins and relatives have arrived, that Maria suddenly realizes what must have happened to the precious ring.


Follow up Activities 

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