8 Christmas Folktales Your Kids Will Read Year After Year

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In my guide "  15 Christmas Picture Books the Entire Family Will Love" I shared some of our family's favourite Christmas picture books, all of which you'll find on our bookshelves. While they are a good mix of entertaining and thought provoking, I realised you won't find a single Christmas folktale in the mix. This is a situation I had to fix immediately! 

The list of Christmas folktales below is far from comprehensive but does share well-known stories that will charm children of all ages. In fact, they're so delightful you'll want to be prepared to read them over and over and over again, year after year.
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Baboushka & The Three Kings

Baboushka & the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins is a Russian folktale about a woman who entertains three guests one evening, but when asked to join them on their search for a new baby, she is too busy to join them. When she finally leaves to find the newborn, the child is nowhere to be found. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned with this story...
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The Legend of the Poinsettia

We're fans of Tomie dePaola, so I was beyond happy to discover a Mexican Christmas folktale retold and illustrated by him.  The Legend of the Poinsettia tells the story of how the poinsettia ("flor de la Nochebuena" or "flower of the Holy Night") came to be. If you love poinsettias, you'll love them even more after reading this story.
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The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story

I can honestly say I've never read any Cajun folktales, so I was super excited to come across  The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story by Terri Hoover Dunham. While this story may not be as old as others on the list, it is a great introduction to a part of America rich in legend and folklore. Plus it has alligators in place of reindeer -- how awesome is that?
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Cobweb Christmas

If your children love Christmas tinsel, they'll adore  Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo. Every year, Tante, an old German woman, decorates a marvellous tree and gives gifts to everyone who visits except the spiders she shoos out of the house. As much as she loves decorating and giving, what Tante wants most is to experience some Christmas magic. And she does thanks to a late-night visitor and those shooed-away spiders.
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The Baker's Dozen

The Baker's Dozen by Aaron Shepard tells the intriguing tale of how Dutch Colonial baker Van Amsterdam's honesty ended up getting him cursed. That's right, cursed. But it all works out, trust me. This story teaches that generosity is more important than honesty ("not more and not less") and shares the birth of one of my favourite American customs.
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The Legend of Old Befana

Tomie dePaola is at it again but this time he's telling an Italian folktale that is very similar to Baboushka & the Three Kings. In   The Legend of Old Befana, you have a grumpy, fussy Italian woman who chooses an impeccable home over a glimpse of the Christ child. It is told that to this day, Old Befana searches for Him, visiting children while they sleep, leaving them gifts from her basket.
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The Christmas Wish

While  The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert is not a folktale, I included it because of its heavy Norwegian influence and gorgeous photography. The story of Anja, who wishes nothing more than to be one of Santa's elves, will delight readers of all ages. This will definitely become one of your favourite holiday stories.
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The Tomten

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren is not a traditional Christmas folktale but it is a Scandinavian winter folktale and a wonderful one at that. If you ever wanted to read your children a comforting bedtime story, this is it. It tells the tale of the gnome Tomten, a guardian of sorts, who walks around a lonely farmhouse on a winter's night, whispering encouragement to sleeping animals and children, giving them pleasant dreams of the promise of spring. 

Note: Some children might find a watchful gnome less than comforting. If you think that might be the case, perhaps you should skip this folktale.
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WRITTEN BY:  emiscollections
 
 
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