My friend Rachel says her Gran won’t allow anyone to use phones or even watch the TV on Christmas Day. Her Gran says it’s a day for sharing with the rest of the family, for eating too much and for playing board games. And why not for reading to each other as well?
Here’s an idea. Instead of watching the same old films that are always on the telly at Christmas, why not practice reading a chapter from your favourite book (or a whole book if it’s not too long) and read it out loud to the rest of the family.
The best times to read over Christmas
1. On Christmas Eve, just before bedtime.
2. On Christmas Eve, just after bedtime (remember to take a torch to bed).
3. On Christmas morning outside your parents’ bedroom door. Instead of waking them up shouting, ‘Has he been? Has he been?’ you could read them A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore. It’s only three minutes long!
4. After everyone’s stuffed themselves with turkey and pudding, and everyone’s in a brilliant mood – read them the funniest chapter of a book you’ve ever read.
Here’s a handy guide to how long it takes to read some Christmas classics:
3 mins: A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore. This is the one that starts, “'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
8 mins: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. Or double that if you stop and examine all the pictures, which is worth doing.
20 mins: A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. This one will have your parents weeping in no time at all, a) because they will be remembering the Christmases of their youth, or b) because they are Welsh.
2 hrs: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Or, as it is written in five chapters, you could read a chapter each evening in the run-up to Christmas. Or maybe take it in turns to read a chapter each?
Getting ready to read out loud
Did you know that Charles Dickens used to really enjoy doing public readings of A Christmas Carol? He crossed out about 25% of the book and made it about 85 minutes long. You can see this edited copy in the New York Public Library, or there are pictures of it online.
If you’re going to read something aloud, don’t be afraid of editing it yourself. Books are generally written to be read to yourself, and reading aloud you often find that sticking to the main story is more exciting for the listeners.