Stories have a way of transporting a reader to a different place in time. Reading a book works a person's imagination and causes the mind to mold pictures and ideas from merely words. Popular Christmas books do just that by bringing Santa and his reindeer to life, such as in Clement Clarke Moore's "The Night Before Christmas," or they can magically transport the reader right to the middle of the nativity scene like in O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi." Everyone seems to have a favorite Christmas story that helps them get into the Christmas spirit and takes them to a special place around the holiday.
Megan Dziesinski has just that experience when reading her favorite book, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The story begins on Christmas Eve and follows a young girl through a magical tale of adventure, curses and love.
"I love the story," Dziesinski said. "I started liking it in elementary school, was first introduced to it through dance, and then read the story. It brings the tradition of Christmas home for me and puts me in the Christmas spirit."
Jealousy and revenge are replaced with kindness and love by the girl throughout the story, and her good deeds are rewarded.
"Its an easy story for anyone to understand, and kids can really get into it," Dziesinski said. "It has magic, but it doesn't have Santa, it has a nutcracker who is still seen today around Christmas time every year. It's one of those older stories that will always be around, whether it's the book or the ballet rendition."
Dziesinski said she has had the same press pop-up nutcracker book since she was a little girl that she received as a gift from her parents one Christmas.
Popular Christmas stories:
* A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
* How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
* The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg
* The Christmas Shoes - Donna VanLiere
* The Gift of the Magi - O. Henry
* The Night Before Christmas - Clement Clarke Moore
* A Dog Named Christmas - Greg Kincaid
* Christmas Day in the Morning - Pearl S. Buck
* Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Rick Bunsen
* The Little Drummer Boy - Ezra Jack Keats
* The Nutcracker and the Mouse King - E. T. A. Hoffmann
* The Littlest Angel - Charles Tazewell
"I'll definately pass on the tradition of reading the story," she said. "I love everything about it from the sugar plums to the ice princess."
Another family that really enjoys reading, especially around Christmas is Jonathan and Katy Purol, and their one-year old daughter Lilly.
"I definitely got a love of reading from my mom and my grandmother," Katy Purol said. "It runs in the family."
Purol said she has always had a love of books, and has passed that love down to her daughter who already picks up every book she sees and flips through the pages.
"She likes to look through the book and jabbers like she's reading the pages out loud," Purol said. "She's so concentrated when she's looking at a book that if it's upside-down, she turns it back the right way."
Purol said they own many Christmas books, but "The Polar Express" is one of their favorites.
"I wanted to instill a joy of reading in her now while she is little," Purol said. "It's great for the imagination and helps with development and vocabulary."
Some of the Christmas books Lilly enjoys are "Snow, What Fun!" by Cheryl Hawkinson, about snowmen that come to life on Christmas Eve and play; "Over the River and Through the Woods," a book based on the familiar tune; "My First Christmas Story," telling the story of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus; and "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg about a boy who rediscovers the meaning of Christmas through a ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
"We are definately starting a tradition with her of reading these books around Christmas," Purol said. "She will read about Santa and Jesus and the magic of Christmas time. I want her to have real books, to actually smell the pages and flip through them while reading. There is nothing like the smell of a good book."
Purol said the family reads with Lilly every day and that she enjoys cuddling up with a book as much as her mother does, especially with a good Christmas story when it's cold and snowy outside.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.