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There really is something magical about reading aloud. It is such a special way to spend time with the people you love. And since there is no more magical season than Christmas, now is the perfect time to pick up a book and share it with your family and friends, especially with everyone home for the holidays!

Whether you are reading at home with your siblings or children, or hosting a Christmas party with dear friends, there are plenty of different ways to approach a read-aloud. You can have a designated reader or take turns from page to page; the choice is up to you. You might also consider designating different people to read for various characters to give each figure a unique voice. Get the input of your family and friends to find a format where everyone feels engaged and comfortable.

Once you have decided who will be doing the reading, it’s time to choose something to read. Here are some holiday-themed stories and selections sure to please crowds of all ages:

The Gift of the Magi,” Frank O’Henry

This sweet story is a moving depiction of true love. A young couple wants to buy Christmas gifts for one another, but in their poverty, find themselves unable to afford anything. They each decide to sell something precious in order to purchase the perfect gift for their spouse—only to realize that the best gift of all (of course!) is love.

If you have not read this story before, I cannot recommend it highly enough! This one is short, sweet, and perfectly encapsulates the meaning of Christmas.

A Christmas CarolCharles Dickens

I think everyone is familiar with Charles Dickens’ iconic Christmas ghost story. Who can forget characters like Jacob Marley, Tiny Tim, and Ebenezer Scrooge? But just in case you have not come across this classic before, the basic premise is that Scrooge is a heartless miser, hellbent on ruining Christmas for everyone else. That is, until the ghost of his former business partner sends three other ghosts to teach him the meaning of Christmas.

You might consider reading the whole book in the days leading up to Christmas, chapter by chapter, or you could just read some selections. One of my favorite Christmas memories is reading aloud the description of the Fezziwigs’ ball in chapter two with my sister while drinking eggnog by the fire on Christmas Eve.

Little WomenLouisa May Alcott

Little Women is the story of the four March sisters coming of age and learning to aspire to goodness, even when times are tough. When the story opens, the girls are facing their first Christmas without their father, who is a pastor ministering to soldiers in the American Civil War. Under the influence of their mother, Marmee, the girls resolve to share their Christmas feast with those in greater need than themselves. This story is a personal favorite of mine, since I have three sisters and we all pretty much resemble our March counterparts!

After you read the first two chapters of the book set at Christmastime, plus the third chapter in which we meet the girls’ friend (romantic interest?) Laurie, I highly recommend checking out the classic 1994 movie (with Christian Bale!) as well as the recent PBS adaptation of the book. And, of course, the new movie comes out on Christmas Day!

The Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeC.S. Lewis

This installment of the Chronicles of Narnia is about the four Pevensie children, who find themselves in a magical country that has been cursed by the White Witch so that it is always winter and never Christmas. The entire book is wonderful and even more wonderful to read aloud, complete with the voices of the wide variety of characters—the Witch, Mr. Tumnus, and Aslan, the great lion.

If you are looking for a shorter selection with a holiday theme, I’ll give you a hint—Christmas finally comes to Narnia with the appearance of Father Christmas in chapter 10. I am also partial to the final chapter, although it always makes me long to step back into the wardrobe myself and never leave!

“The Greatest Gift,” Philip Van Doren-Stern

This story, originally printed as Christmas cards by the author when he could not acquire a publisher, later served as the inspiration for Frank Capra’s Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

In the short story, a man by the name of George Pratt wishes he had never been born. As he contemplates committing suicide by jumping off of a bridge, he encounters a strange man, who tells him his wish has been granted. As George returns home to find out what the world would be like without him, he realizes that he had already been given the greatest gift of all, life. Once you have read the story, it’s as good a time as any to give the film a rewatch and compare the two!

So grab a book (or print off one of the stories linked above), whip up some hot cocoa, and settle in for some cozy holiday reading with your loved ones. It’s the perfect way to make a special new memory and spend quality time together!