Skip to Main Content

Classic Christmas: Home

Classic Christmas Stories

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The Nutcracker

A Christmas Carol

The Polar Express

A Visit from St. Nicholas: Twas the Night Before Christmas

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Watch These Stories Come to Life

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) 
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Dr. Seuss' the Grinch (2018)

The Nutcracker
Nutcracker (1986)
The Nutcracker - Performed by the Russian State Ballet & Opera House

A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol (1951)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
A Christmas Carol (2009)

The Polar Express
The Polar Express (2004)

A Visit from St. Nicholas:
Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Narrated by Michael Bublé

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1998)

Christmastime brings forth memories of Christmases past, family traditions, and feelings of warmth and love. Enjoy this collection of classic Christmas stories, learn more about the history of each story, watch movies and videos, and read through these classic Christmas tales. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel in 1957. The story has been adapted as a 1966 animated TV film narrated by Boris Karloff, a 2000 live-action film starring Jim Carrey, a 2018 animated film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and a 2020 live television adaptation of the 1994 musical starring Matthew Morrison.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas! follows the Grinch, a grouchy, cave-dwelling creature who hates Christmas. He devises a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos in Whoville, stealing presents, trees, and Christmas food. Expecting the Whos to be bitter and sad about their lost Christmas, the Grinch is shocked when they instead sing a joyous song. This leads the Grinch to have a change of heart about Christmas, who returns to Whoville to celebrate Christmas with the Whos.


The character of the Grinch first appeared in a 32-line poem called "The Hoobub and the Grinch" which was published in the May 1955 edition of Redbook magazine. Dr. Seuss began working on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! in 1957after his success from The Cat in the Hat. It is said that the book was the easiest to write of his career, except for the ending, which Seuss changed again and again until finally coming up with the ending of the Grinch carving the roast beast. 

Enjoy How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Enjoy listening to Boris Karloff narrate the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas on YouTube

Podcasts about Dr. Seuss and the Grinch 

Listen to the Animation Addicts Podcast, "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch - Does the Grinch Need a Job?' where the hosts discuss the 2018 film Dr. Seuss' The Grinch.

Listen to Stuff You Should Know podcast "Dr. Seuss: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" where the hosts look into the legendary life of Theodor Geisel and his works.  

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which was based off of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".  This ballet is performed by countless ballet companies around the world during the Christmas season. 


The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, and while the story varies from production to production, most ballet companies follow the same basic outline. The story opens on Christmas Eve where family and friends gather for a Christmas party. During the party, the children receive gifts - including dolls and wooden nutcrackers. During the night, the little girl (Clara) and her Nutcracker Prince go on an adventure to the land of sweets where the nutcracker battles the Mouse King before returning back home. 


Read The Nutcracker and Learn More

Originally written in 1816, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King introduced the world to Marie Stahlbaum and her favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker soldier. Throughout the years the story has been adapted time and again, presented to audiences both young and old. 

Watch The Nutcracker Performed 

Nutcracker Ballet 
Performed by the Ballet of the Slovak National Theatre with music from the Sofia National Opera Orchestra
Run Time: 1:10:44
Copyright: 1995

(Watch through Films on Demand)

Royal Opera House: The Nutcracker 
Performed by the Britain's Royal Ballet with music from the orchestra of the Royal Opera House 

Run Time: 1:54:55
Copyright: 2000
Watch through Films on Demand)

Maria Tallchief coaching excerpts from George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Run Time: 1:49:02
Copyright: 1995
Producer: The George Balanchine Foundation, Inc.
Watch through Films on Demand

Charles Dicken's classic Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol: In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas is a novella (a short novel that runs between 17,000 and 40,000 words), that was first published in London in 1843.  The story was illustrated by John Leech and published by Chapman & Hall.  Since it's original publication in 1843, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print. 

Plot and Layout

A Christmas Carol is divided into five chapters, titled "Staves".  The story opens up (Stave One) on Christmas Eve in London, with Ebenezer Scrooge who dislikes Christmas. During the night, he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner, who tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits, and has one chance to change his ways.

The Ghost of Christmas Past arrives first (in Stave Two) and shows Scrooge Christmas scenes from his own childhood. The Ghost of Christmas Present (in Stave Three) brings Scrooge around to all of the Christmas celebrations currently happening.  And the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (arriving in Stave Four) lets Scrooge know what will happen in the future if he doesn't change his ways. 

The story ends (in Stave Five) takes Scrooge back to the present where he wakes up on Christmas morning as a changed man who treats everyone with kindness and generosity, embodying the spirit of Christmas. 

Read A Christmas Carol

The original publication of A Christmas Carol: In Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, published in 1843 can be read in full through Project Gutenberg, which includes the original illustrations in color by John Leech (click here to read the story and view the illustrations). 

Watch and Learn More About A Christmas Carol 

Learn more about the story The Christmas Carol by watching the films below (from the database Films on Demand).  To find other versions of the story, check out the "Watch These Stories Come to Life" section of this guide. 

A Christmas Carol (Animated) 

Run Time: 52:07
Producer: Retro Film Archive
Date: 1962
Description: This amusing musical cartoon adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic "A Christmas Carol" is an excellent introduction to the story for younger viewers. The premise is that the famous Mr. Magoo is performing as Ebenezer Scrooge in a Broadway production of "A Christmas Carol." The songs are engaging, but at the same time, most of Dickens's story and even a good deal of his language is retained.

(Watch through Films on Demand)

Christmas and a Christmas Carol

Run Time: 1:17:48
Producer: MVD Entertainment Group
Date: 2009
Description: This program traces the story of Christmas, from its origins in Nordic and Roman mid-winter celebrations, through the advance of Christianity, and up to the present day. It pays particular attention to the small book that came out at the end of 1843 and to the moment in time that Charles Dickens became involved in the progression of the mid-winter festivity and changed its course forever.

(Watch through Films on Demand)

The Polar Express was written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg in 1985. This children's story is now widely considered to be a Christmas Classic, has been praised for its detailed illustrations, and won the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1986. The book was made into a movie in 2004, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis. 


The Polar Express tells the story of a young boy who is awakened on Christmas Eve night by the sound of a train, which is waiting for him to board. The train takes the young boy and the other passengers north through forests and over mountains, ending in the North Pole where Santa Claus will select one of the children to receive the first gift of Christmas. The boy receives a bell from one of the reindeer's harnesses, hearing the sound of it ringing only as long as he believes in Santa and Christmas.  

Read and Enjoy The Polar Express 

Visit the Official Website

Take a trip on the Polar Express and visit the story's official website. Included within are:

Discussions about The Polar Express

The Polar Express has been discussed by many podcasters. Listen to some below.

Podcast: The Holiday Bros.
Title: The Polar Express
Publication Date: December 03, 2017
Listen Here)

Podcast: The Cinescope Podcast 
Title: The Polar Express
Publication Date: December 01, 2017
Listen Here)

Podcast: Book vs. Movie
Title: The Polar Express
Publication Date: December 22, 2019
Listen Here)

A Visit from Saint Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas, is a poem that was first published anonymously in 1823. In 1837, American writer Clement Clarke Moore claimed authorship of was has been called the best-known verses ever written by an American. This poem is largely responsible for modern conceptions of Santa Clause and and helped to standardize the themes, ideas, and traditions of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Time.

The Poem
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Adaptations to Enjoy 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a fictional character created by Robert Lewis May, first appearing in a 1939 booklet published by the Chicago-based department store Montgomery Ward. Rudolph is the ninth and youngest of Santa's reindeer, who uses his luminous red nose to lead the reindeer in guiding Santa's sleigh. 

Rudolph in the Media 

1939 - Montgomery Ward booklet introduced the world to Rudolph and his red nose
1948 - Theatrical Cartoon Short introduces Rudolph to the screens

1949 - Johnny Marks (author May's brother-in-law) adapts Rudolph's story into song, performed by Gene Autry
1950 to 1962 - 
Rudolph makes his way into the Comics, appearing in a series of 13 annuals from DC Comics

1958 - Little Golden Books publishes an illustrated storybook, by Barbra Shook Hazen and Richard Scarry

1964 - Stop-motion animation brings Rudolph and his story to life once again, becoming the most well known adaptation

Learn More about Rudolph

In 1964, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer came to life through the Christmas television special. Now, over 55-years later, it is the longest running Christmas special in history, featuring groundbreaking stop-motion animation with puppets. Read more from Smithsonian Magazine here.

Read the true story of how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created for retail giant Montgomery Ward department store by an advertising copyright who endured great personal tragedy. Learn how Robert May created a little reindeer, using inspiration from his daughter and the Lake Michigan fog, in this History Channel article.

You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you know the most famous reindeer of all? Find out about the chart topping song sung by Gene Autry from the History Channel

Listen, Watch, and Enjoy


© 2023 McGovern Library, Dakota Wesleyan University

Email: | Phone: (605) 995-2618 | 1200 W. University Ave, Mitchell, SD 57301