Monday, January 13, 2014

Help a SurLaLuner: Stories for Advent

Okay folks, reader Nayla sent me this email and I thought I would share with a larger audience to see if we can help her. Yes, I know this might seem past time for you, but I have many friends with similar traditions--most do the same with picture books--so I thought I would request your suggestions while the memories are still strong from the holiday season.

Here's the request:

I’m stumped on a pet project and wondered if you could point me in the right
direction. I’m putting together a collection of forty stories to read night by
night over winter lent next year (it’s a forty day period preceding Christmas
that was the old form of Advent, also called St Martin’s Lent since it kicks off
after Martinmas), I’d like the stories to be winter themed and folkloric,
ideally with a moral attached though not necessarily and I’m including a few
thematic stories such as a legend of St. Nicholas on his feast day and so on.
It’s an entirely private project to put in our family Christmas box, for me to
read to our children, with no selling or any such thing to follow. My trouble
is that I’m finding it impossible to sift through all the material. I’ve found
hundreds of out of copyright Victorian literature full of ‘yule fire’ stories,
but I can’t read through all of them by 2015.

Would you happen to know of any lists of fairy tales broken down by season or
other criteria? Off the top of my head I’ve come up with the Ant and the
Grasshopper, the Snow Queen, the Little Matchgirl, Star Money (not wintry, but a
decent moral), the Ice-Maiden, the Snow Man, and East of the Sun/West of the

Thank you for your time and attention!


Please post your answers here and Nayla and I thank you for your help!

PS: For 2014, I plan to offer more Help a SurLaLuner posts as I receive email requests that I cannot handle alone. Not enough time! Besides, all of our heads together will be much more productive than my little lone one, as overtaxed as it is.


  1. I have a huge pile of winter and/or Christmas-related picture books at home. Not all fit the request here, but a few that come to mind are: The Mitten by Jan Brett, Baboushka and the Three Kings (forget author), The Legend of Old Bafana by Tomie dePaola, Lucia, Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde, and there may be others in my pile. I'll comment again if I remember any others :) This is a neat idea for Advent/Nativity Fast (my family is Orthodox Christian so we call it the latter).

  2. The Selfish Giant, Stone Soup, and any version of Diamonds & Toads (I prefer the Talking Eggs or Mufaru's Beautiful Daughters) have great morals. The Twelve Months story tends to have winter imagery, I think? I hear good things about The Tomten, too. And Star Mother's Youngest Child.

    My favorite Christmas books are Laurel Long's Twelve Days of Christmas, the Nutcracker, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the Tale of the Three Trees.


  3. Two of my favorite stories that take place in winter are the snow queen and east of the sun, west of the moon.
    Good luck