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A Christmas Carol: In prose, being a ghost story of Christmas
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- 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?
A reading of the original version of this story should be a part of every child's experience. 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").
Talk to your kids 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?