As you probably all know, we are all members of the Kids In Madrid family and this month I’d like to share my selection of English language Christmas stories for you and your children. Traditional tales or quirky stories, all the books mentioned below have more than just Christmas in common: they are all suitable for children learning English as a second language.
Children’s favourite character Maisy mouse offers us the chance to follow her Christmas preparations such as decorating the tree and wrapping gifts in the sticker picture book. Spanish children may find the food Maisy prepares for Christmas somewhat different to the meal they expect to eat on Christmas Eve, as I mentioned this time last year.
Little children will also enjoy reading The Very First Christmas Top That! Publishing which is a board book that tells the Nativity story and includes pop-out figures to build your own crib.
Edelvives has a lovely series of hard back first readers that include a CD called Tales of the Old Oak. One of the stories, Snowy, the brave rabbit, tells the story of a brave young rabbit that rescues an older rabbit from a snowstorm and takes her to the Christmas party in the woods with the rest of the animals. I like this book for many reasons: first and foremost is the story itself, with a message that should be shared with all children; secondly, I think the pictograms help with reading out loud in family; thirdly, Spanish children will find the typeset easy to read as it is printed in the same joined up calligraphy as their school text books; furthermore, the CD is well-narrated and includes a very catchy song.
The traditional tale of T’was the night before Christmas, particularly in the version available from Top That Publishing, is a heartwarming story that shows children Christmas customs from different parts of the world, such as hanging stockings from a mantelpiece or dreaming of candy sugar canes.
I recently discovered a series of first readers published by Quercus Books called Guinea Pigs Online. This group of intrepid guinea pigs live in London and are more tech-savvy than I am! They know how to surf the net, they use the social network site Micespace and send text messages from Mum’s phone. In their Christmas adventure (Guinea Pigs Online Christmas Quest) the guinea pigs travel to Peru in search of gold and whilst there help their friend Eduardo recover the stolen Christmas Cocoa Bean Phew! We all know that Christmas is not the same without chocolate! The Guinea Pigs Online readers are written in present simple, past simple and present continuous tenses, with a few easy expressions to learn and a handful of phrasal verbs carefully chosen for this reading age range.
Gingerbread and biscuits are traditional for this time of year, and The Gingerbread Man continues to be one of the most widely-read books at Christmas. I particularly like Usborne’s fully illustrated rhyming version. For those of you who don’t know the tune to “Run, Run, I’m the Gingerbread Man” take a look at this clip from Schooltube.
10 years upwards
For slightly older children who have a good grasp of English, I recommend they read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Walker Books publish a beautifully illustrated version which aids and encourages a thoroughly involved reading experience.
Finally, for those who love crafts and making things, I can’t recommend highly enough this best-selling Usborne book: 100 Christmas Things to make and do.
How about letting your children try these out on their own this Christmas? It is a fun way to keep them motivated with their English reading skills!
Take a look at the Education section of our blog to find information on different courses and activities for kids.