Friday, 7 December 2018

Festive Favourites to Read Aloud by Dawn Finch

One of my absolute favourites
to read aloud at Christmas 
Yes, it’s that time of year again and my thoughts drift to festive stories. I love a Christmassy or winter book, and I have to admit that I tend to re-read some of my favourites every year. I have a little tradition of my own that when I’ve done all of the gift shopping, and the decorations are up, I treat myself with a bit of quiet time and a re-read of The Dark is Rising.

When I was in a school (and had a small person of my own in the house) I loved to share stories aloud, and still take the opportunity to read-aloud whenever I can. Not all books work well as read-alouds, and anyone who regularly listens to audio books will testify to this. It set me thinking about the best seasonal books to read aloud.

One of the all-time classics for this time of year is, of course, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Dickens really understood what it took to bring a story to life, and this was largely because he read his own work aloud all the time. He went on tour, and gave many public performances of his own work. In many ways Dickens anticipated the future pattern of author visits! He set the scene, and did the voices, and brought his books to life.

I firmly believe in the power of storytelling, and think that a well-told story can be infinitely more atmospheric, and more compelling than any movie. I’ve blogged on here about the sort of books that read aloud well, and how to read things aloud, but the idea here is not to put too much pressure on yourself and instead just read what you enjoy. Pick a book that you love, and you’ll bring it to life.

If you’ve not had storytelling sessions before, it will feel a little strange. Break yourself in easy with a competition. Set your family the challenge of seeing who can find the most captivating excerpt to read aloud. Everyone reads their chosen bit aloud, and you can vote on which one is the best. You don’t all have to be sitting around in adoring silence – my daughter used to read to me when I was cooking. In fact, many people feel more comfortable reading aloud when people are not sitting staring at them. However, if you really want to go full Dickens… draw the curtains, light some candles, and coorie in (as they say in Scotland!)

Here’s my list of books that I feel will read-aloud well. I have opted here for novels instead of picture books because it is easier for you to select picture books for yourself simply because there is less to read in one sitting! If you’ve found other novels that read-aloud well, please add them in the comments.

Aiken, Joan – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Boston, Lucy M – The Children of Green Knowe
Carroll, Emma – Frost Hollow Hall
Cooper, Susan – The Dark is Rising
Dale, Anna – Whispering to Witches
Dickens, Charles – A Christmas Carol
Doherty, Berlie – Children of Winter
Elphinstone, Abi – Sky Song
Fisher, Catherine – Snow Walker
Gaarder, Jostein – The Christmas Mystery
Gardner, Sally and David Roberts – Tinder
Gayton, Sam – the Snow Merchant
Gordon, John – The Giant Under The Snow
Hargrave, Kiran Millwood – The Way Past Winter
Hitchcock, Fleur – Murder in Midwinter
Horwood, William – The Willows in Winter
Ivey, Eowyn – Snow Child
Jansson, Tove – Moominland Midwinter
Lewis, CS – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
London, Jack – Call of the Wild
Masefield, John – Box of Delights
Morris, Jackie – East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Pratchett, Terry – Wintersmith
Preussler, Otfried – Krabat
Priestley, Chris – The Last of the Spirits
Raby,  Lucy Daniel – Nikolai of the North
Ransome, Arthur – Winter Holiday
Rundell, Katherine – Wolf Wilder
Smith, Dodie – 101 Dalmations
St John, Lauren – The Snow Angel
Streatfeild, Noel – White Boots
Torday, Piers – There May Be A Castle
Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder – The Long Winter
Wilson, Amy - Snowglobe
Woodfine, Katherine – The Midnight Peacock

Dawn Finch is a children’s author and librarian


Sue Purkiss said...

Wonderful book list!

Penny Dolan said...

A great collection and I am taking notes, though more for myself than the wonderful scenes described in your post, Dawn.

Saviour Pirotta said...

Some real festive fare there. Shall indulge.

Moira Butterfield said...

I have bookmarked this blog. I love this list. About 10 minutes ago I said of my husband "I think it's time to read something Christmassy. Shall I go for Dickens?" Now I have a lovely choice, Perfect!

Mystica said...

I am so glad you gave a list.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

A wonderful blog. Thank you Dawn for the wonderful list as well as the advice. And yes loved the comment of not always having to share reading a story, with someone staring at you. I think I would love to cook for someone who read to me.