A Christmas Carol: In prose, being a ghost story of Christmas

Common Sense Media says

Scrooge learns compassion in granddaddy of Christmas tales.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Well, Scrooge IS "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!" But he reforms.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcohol at all of the parties.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the original text of Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a real challenge for today's young readers, and for most kids this book works best as a read-aloud, with lots of discussion and explanation along the way.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The story is familiar to nearly everyone -- one of the most widely known stories of the past century. Ebenezer Scrooge, stingy and mean, is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley announces the coming visits of three ghosts -- Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Their coming is an attempt to redeem Scrooge before it is too late, lest he share Marley's fate, and be forced to wander the earth in eternal repentance.

The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge some of the events in his life that led him to become the person he is. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows him what Christmas Day is like for those he knows, and for strangers. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows him where his actions are leading him, and others. Together they engender in him a recognition of his faults and a resolve to change his life.

Is it any good?


In the stratosphere of literature, few books become classics -- stories that are beloved by every succeeding generation, handed down from parent to child, treasured in family libraries, and always in print. A CHRISTMAS CAROL enjoys a status so rare that we don't even have a word for it -- a book that has permanently altered the culture to which it belongs. It has been adapted countless times on the  stage, screen, and in art and music; its words and phrases have passed into the lexicon of common usage; and its story is known to everyone, even those who have never read it. It virtually created the modern secular Christmas celebration, along with the attitudes and emotions that accompany it (indeed, Dickens is credited in some quarters with the invention of the phrase, "Merry Christmas"). As such, a reading of the original should be a part of every child's experience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Dickens' ideas about the effects of ignorance and want, and about compassion and generosity of spirit. Why does the story have such lasting power? 

  • What's so bad about Scrooge? What made him the way he is? Does his transformation make sense?

  • What other versions of this story have your read or seen in the movies? 

Book details

Author:Charles Dickens
Illustrator:Trina Schart Hyman
Genre:Literary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Holiday House
Publication date:December 11, 2005
Number of pages:118
Read aloud:9
Read alone:12

This review of A Christmas Carol: In prose, being a ghost story of Christmas was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byCaesar_12219 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
A Christmas Carol is a story that we've all heard...over and over and over. The language is good, the descriptions intriguing, and Dickens' literary style is beautiful, as always, but lets face it: the story isn't anything that we, or Dickens for that matter have heard a million times before. If you want to read something by Charles Dickens that's good, go read A Tale of Two Cities, and at least get a new story out of it.
Parent of a 3, 5, 9, 11, 12, and 13 year old Written byRitaJ10 November 14, 2009
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old August 3, 2010

You know, sybolism is nice if you have an interesting plot...

Charles Dickens tried way to hard to cram every symbolic detail he can and forgot about writing the book in even a slightly interesting manner. You really don't care about any of the characters, and a ton of details that aren't needed get thrown in and fill up pages. Several times I was wondering what the heck was going on, and the entire book was so predictable that even if you hadn't been spoiled of the ending a million times you could figure it out. Don't recommend it, just watch the movies. They are far superior.
What other families should know
Great messages


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