A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol is a delight for advanced readers, and it makes a perfect Christmastime read-aloud. The beloved story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who's haunted by spirits on Christmas Eve and learns how to be a better man, has reminded generations of readers to learn from past mistakes and to give openheartedly to those who are less fortunate. There are some scary parts: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is foreboding, and descriptions of impoverished children, and of a family mourning the death of a child, may be upsetting to sensitive readers. Adults consume wine and rum in the story, and the Cratchits put gin in their hot Christmas punch (so, presumably, the alcohol burns off). This story has been adapted for the small and large screen many times, from classic 1938 and 1951 black-and-white movies to Scrooged with Bill Murray to the delightful musical Scrooge starring Albert Finney, The Muppet Christmas Carol starring Michael Caine, and a host of animated versions.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In A CHRISTMAS CAROL, stingy and mean businessman Ebenezer Scrooge cares only about money. He's unkind to his clerk, Bob Cratchit, and he has no patience for his warm, generous nephew, Fred. He coldly rebuffs two charity workers who want him to donate money to help care for the destitute at Christmas. At home after work, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells Scrooge to expect visits from three more ghosts: the spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. The spirits force Scrooge to reckon with his past mistakes, the suffering he causes every day, and the future he can expect if he does not change his ways.
Is it any good?
Dickens' classic novella is a cultural touchstone that's not to be missed at the holidays. It's got many of the best Dickensian qualities: dark London streets, needy children, a family that is poor in material things but rich in love, estranged family members, the triumph of good over evil, plus Christmas and ghosts. It's a marvelous story with a moral lesson -- that if we give what we can, we can make a difference -- that never gets old. Because this novella is so much shorter than Dickens' famously long novels, it makes a great (and familiar) introduction to his work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the children who are called Ignorance and Want in A Christmas Carol. What does Scrooge learn from facing them? What did you learn?
Have you seen any movies of the Christmas Carol story? How were they different from the book?
A Christmas Carol is still beloved more than 150 years after it was first published. What makes it a seasonal favorite still, after all these years?
- Author: Charles Dickens
- Genre: Holiday
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History, Holidays, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Holiday House
- Publication date: December 1, 1843
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 18
- Number of pages: 118
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 22, 2020
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