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Patricia Flaherty Pagan

dark Fiction & Poetry 

Round-up: Beloved Winter Books for Children

snowman-readingWe all have them. Classic stories or poems that remind us of holiday candlelight, blue mittens on a string, sugar cookies and snow ball fights. The loved ones, teachers and librarians who introduced us to these stories gave us a gift that will last our entire lives. Since every time I drive by our local sushi place I begin reciting, “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish…” and rainy days remind me of Thing One and Thing Two, you can guess that the old fashioned, hardcover version of Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was one of my favorites. It may only reflect one side of the frontier experience, but the feisty heroine and dramatic hardships in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s tale The Long Winter (with its fun illustrations) also made that book one of my favorite reads on wintry days in suburban Boston.

What classic stories will the children in your life enjoy? Several talented writers suggest their favorites below. I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore or library and pick up these great reads!

“My favorite Christmas book as a child was The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden. Because I was so close to my Grandmother, I felt deeply for Ivy, an orphaned girl who wanted a grandmother for Christmas. Penniless and alone, she also wanted a doll named Holly from a shop that had already closed for the night. Godden made Ivy’s—and Holly’s—wishes come true in a heartwarming way that has stayed with me for decades after reading.” -Eden Royce is a writer and editor from Charleston, South Carolina. She blogs about book releases, how to impress a publisher and how baking cupcakes can improve your writing at:

“One of my favorite winter stories is The Mitten by Jan Brett. The illustrations are stunning, and the story of the very different, often adversarial, animals cooperating to escape the cold is heartwarming. One of my favorite parts of the book is the side illustrations: on each page is a preview of another animal, hiding in the woods, waiting for its turn in the mitten. It’s a beautiful book to read, and a fun story for children to act out, as well.” -Karen Marinaccio is a writer, teacher, wife, and mother of three who lives in New Hampshire. Her most recent short story “Reading Fate” can be found in the anthology Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery, and Horror, available from Spider Road Press at

“My parents gave me the run of their books at a very early age, and I glommed onto poetry. When the seasons turn colder, the piece of literature from my childhood that still rattles like winter in my bones is Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It’s a poem children can easily understand and even memorize (younger children enjoy the lovely picture-book version of the poem illustrated by Susan Jeffers.) This poem is also one that grows in meaning and worth throughout your life. If you read this poem again, in a book of his poetry or an anthology, you’ll see what I mean.” -Gay Yellen is a former award-winning magazine and book editor who writes fiction. Her novel, The Body Business, a tale of mystery and romance, can be found here: 

“When I was a child, my favorite Christmas tale was the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clark Moore. What made this poem so special was the imagery it created for me in my mind. I could see the still, quiet house; the kids tucked in bed dreaming; Santa’s jolly belly as he laughed. It brought the tale of a man who gave to those who didn’t have, the original St. Nick, to life in a special way for me.” -Fern Brady is Co-owner of the Houston Writers Guild and Vice President of Inklings Publishing. Learn more about her at

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson was a wonderful gift from my aunt. I actually stopped opening presents so I could read the first few chapters, which was a common occurrence during the holidays. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but I loved the story of a large unconventional outlaw family attempting to fit in. The lesson of the book, that we should accept everyone, no matter who they are, is one that has stuck with me throughout my life.” -Melissa Algood is a writer, a lover of horror movies and a hardworking hairstylist. She’s the featured author of the upcoming anthology-Eclectically Criminal from Inklings Publishing. Learn more about her at

“My favorite winter books were those I received as Christmas presents! I loved the Fury and The Black Stallion books by Walter Farley. I would get them, one each year, for three years beginning when I was eight. Kids still love those books.”–R.L. Nolen is a native Houstonian writer with a penchant for suspense with a hint of humor and romance. She’s the author of:

“My favorite Christmas story aside from The Nutcracker, is A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz. When I was a younger mom, aged 25, my daughter, aged 2, and I would read it together every night. It was not so much the story, it was the closeness we felt during that time. I was in awe of her because, although only 2, she knew all the words.” -Eileen Brunetto is a nonfiction writer and matriarch of the blog, Jersey Sauce, where she hangs out and talk about life in Vermont from the perspective of a South Jersey transplant. Read it at <>

“The Night Before Christmas,” would have to be the beloved holiday book from my childhood, as it is the only one that stuck with me all these years! I can still recite most of the lines. I think I enjoyed it so much because of the great pictures, and I can still hear my grandmother’s Barbadian accent as she read it to me. The book is definitely a classic that every child should have the joy of hearing it read to them–and adults too!” –Popular novelist Donna Hill is a mother, an author, educator and devout lover of books. Find out more about Donna at

I hope that you can share these memorable stories with the young (or the young at heart) people in your life this winter!