Classic Christmas Reads for your Kindle or Kobo

by - Thursday, December 09, 2021

In those precious moments of calm between furtive festive preparations, what better way to unwind than to curl up with a classic Christmas tale or two?

Luckily, there are many seasonal novels and stories of this variety we can download to our e-readers for free, saving both time and money for those occasions when inspiration strikes. 

I've collected here a selection of classic Christmas stories which are available for both the Kindle and Kobo, and where possible I'll direct you to beautiful or illustrated editions - all of which are completely free!

A Visit from Saint Nicholas (The Night Before Christmas), attributed to Clement Clarke Moore

On the night of Christmas Eve, a family is settling down to sleep when the father is disturbed by noises on the lawn outside. Looking out the window, he sees Saint Nicholas in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer...

Undoubtedly one of the best known writings of Christmas, A visit from Saint Nicholas was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel on 23 December 1823. Although it was later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore when he included the poem in a collection of his writings, there is doubt of his being the true author! I won't speculate here, but instead urge you to download the beautifully illustrated edition from Project Gutenberg, which is available in all digital formats.

Also available directly from the Amazon Kindle store

Old Christmas by Washington Irving

First published in 1886 and illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, these five stories chronicle the American writer Washington Irving's nostalgic recollections of Christmas traditions in 19th century England. 

Alternative edition available from Google Books

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

How did Santa Claus invent the first toy? Why does he travel by night and enter homes via chimney? How did he come to travel with eight reindeer? Beloved writer LYMAN FRANK BAUM (1856-1919)-creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and author of 13 other Oz novels-introduces us to a fantastical Father Christmas raised by a fairy queen among the magical denizens of an enchanted forest, a mortal among immortals who outwits evil Awgwas in his quest to share gifts and spread love around the world. First published in 1902, this is a beautiful, mythic tale, one that will charm children of all ages.

Available for all formats from Project Gutenberg.

A Kidnapped Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

"A Kidnapped Santa Claus" was published two years after Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and shares its mythological cosmos; in the story as in the novel, Santa lives in the Laughing Valley on the border of the Forest of Burzee, and is assisted by knooks, ryls, fairies, and pixies. However, in this short story, Santa is kidnapped by jealous daemons who resent that children are more satisfied with their Christmas gifts and no longer visit their caves.

Image credit: Willguard, via Pixabay

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

A tailor in Gloucester sends his cat Simpkin to buy food and a twist of cherry-coloured silk to complete a waistcoat commissioned by the mayor for his wedding on Christmas morning...

This classic tale from the author of the Peter Rabbit series of books will delight the young and old alike at Christmas time! 

Christmas at Thompson Hall by Anthony Trollope

Christmas at Thompson Hall collects the best Christmas tales of Anthony Trollope, and are mostly set in Trollope's imaginary county of Barsetshire. The stories depict the festive period with all Trollope's trademark zest, humour, and cheerfulness, and offer rich and psychologically acute portrayals of the middle class and gentry of Victorian England at Christmas time.

The Fairies and the Christmas Child by Lilian Gask

The "Christmas Child" in this book isn't Jesus, but rather a boy born on Christmas Day, named "Chris". After his father forgets both Christmas and Chris’ birthday (not surprising as the father is an impoverished, overworked surgeon) He runs away from home and finds himself in a park, where he meets the fairy-queen. She tells him that all children born on the 25th of December have the gift of talking to the fairy-folk. What follows is an account of Chris’ adventures and meetings with the fairy folk and the stories they tell him.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Jim and Della live in a furnished flat in New York City, scraping by on a minimal income early in their marriage. At Christmastime, Della sells her beautiful, long hair for money to buy Jim a platinum pocket-watch chain. On the same day, Jim sells his heirloom pocket watch to buy a set of hair combs that Della has admired. Their Christmas gifts are compromised, but they realize they have the best gift of all - each other. 

Download The Gift of the Magi for all device types from Project Gutenberg.

Photo credit: Monika Stawowy

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann

Young Marie Stahlbaum's favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I daresay that Dickens' festive ghost story requires little introduction! There are may free digital editions of A Christmas Carol available, so I've linked here to my favourite which includes full colour illustrations - and an illustration of the infamous door-knocker. 

Image credit: MaxPixel

What do you enjoy reading most in the build-up to Christmas? Please feel free to share your comments and experiences below. 

Post header image credit: Jo, via Flickr Creative Commons.

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