Did you know that many popular Christmas movies began as novels or short stories? I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 book-to-movie conversions. Any of these would make for great literature lessons and are touching enough to inspire a bout of journal or poetry writing after reading and viewing.
So spice up your homeschool this December with these Christmas stories and novels that have been made into movies!
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Henry’s short story from 1905 tells the tale of young newlyweds who desperately desire to buy each other Christmas gifts but lack the funds. Their creative solution has become the standard for any plot involving giving and sacrifice at holiday time.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Watching “the worst kids in the history of the world” immerse themselves in the Christmas story will bring home the magic of its life-changing message to your family.
Here’s the book blurb about this classic story: “The Herdmans lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale — the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating — has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year’s pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.”
- The Christmas Wish by Richard Siddoway
This Christmas movie has become one of my all-time favorites! Few have seen this beautiful story of family, forgiveness, and second chances—so you just may surprise your own family with something new this year.
Here’s the basic plot: “Wall Street businessman Will Martin returns home to his recently widowed grandmother to look after her and the family real estate business. But when she discovers several entries in her late husband’s diary about Lillian—a woman that neither she nor Will know—he tries to uncover this Christmas mystery. Will he find Lillian—and himself? Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Debbie Reynolds, and Naomi Watts. Dove-approved.”
- The House without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock
This is the first book in the Addie Mills series for tweens. Set in 1940’s Nebraska, the story centers around 10-year-old Addie as she struggles to bring the warmth of family and Christmas to the home she shares with her embittered widower father and her timid grandmother. Readers & viewers have called the story funny, nostalgic, and heartwarming. The novella is short enough for a perfect read-aloud session.
It’s $6.99 on Kindle or $ .01 used (plus $3.99 S&H). Order now and save for a snowy day. Just add hot chocolate!
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
While technically not a Christmas movie, several beautiful key scenes take place during one March family Christmas or another. Set during the Civil War, this wonderful coming-of-age story of four sweet—yet completely different—sisters never loses its magic, no matter how many times it’s revisited.
If you’re lucky enough to know a young girl who has not yet been introduced to Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy, we’ve made your work easy for you! Follow the links below to provide them the perfect Christmas experience.
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P. J. Lynch
“The tale is unfolded with such mastery, humor, and emotional force that we are entirely within its power.” ~The New York Times Book Review The first time I opened the pages of this book, the simple yet powerful story and luminous illustrations stole my heart! Susan Wojciechowski’s tale of love, loss, and second chances is the perfect Christmas reflection. This is a kids’ book for the child within all of us.
If your family does not have a copy of this treasure, follow the links below. Read or watch with tissues & someone you love!
- November Christmas by Greg Coppa
Great Coppa’s prize winning short story is about small-town Rhode Island family dealing with an illness that threatens to take the life of their daughter. Their plight sparks memories in two neighbors, who haven’t spoken in years after suffering their own losses. The neighbors find healing as they rally to help the family.
In 2010 this poignant story was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Sam Elliott, John Corbett, Karen Allen, Sarah Paulson, and Emily Alyn Lynd. Watch with tissues handy!
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The illustrations alone make this story of a young boy who ends up taking a mysterious journey with Santa a treasure. Follow the second link to the book’s 30th anniversary edition, which features a new jacket design, downloadable audio by Liam Neeson, and golden ‘All Aboard’ ornament.
- The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado
This modern Christmas classic from best-selling inspirational author Max Lucado is both a beautiful book and a touching movie. Set in Victorian England, this story of candle maker and his wife who are visited by a bungling angel will quickly put you in the holiday mood!
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A classic that needs little introduction, A Christmas Carol has it all—ghosts, mystery, futuristic visions, unrequited love, heartbreak, and healing. This nostalgic tale of redemption is worth experiencing anew every year!
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (for the young & the young-at-heart)
There’s our list. I hope you discovered something new to enrich your Christmas experience.
And as Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us, everyone.”
Renee Ann Smith teaches literature in a Christian high school by day and writes stories by night. She reviews books and shares inspirational posts on her blog Doorkeeper at http://reneeannsmith.com/. You can also find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ReneeAnnSmith.