1957 Christmas Book: Save the Book, or Write the Series? BOOK!


"...Above all, this is a book to be shared by parents with their children. Gunnar Dybwad, Director, Child Study Association of America."

Editor’s Note – 12/6/2011 ~ Originally published last week, this post was the first installment of what I hoped to be a Christmas story each day for 25 days through Christmas.  Unfortunately, I’ve worked all weekend to try scanning the pages of stories while avoiding tearing the book up.  The book is too old and I’m damaging it for this series.  So, in order to keep the book, I have to give up the series.  I’m sorry about that.  If I find a way to utilize the book without cracking the spine completely up, I’ll try again.  Thanks, RDK

(Originally published the last week of November, 2011) Editor’s note -True story:  I’ve had this post waiting as a “draft” since December, 2010. I can’t tell you how many times I had to try scanning this book to get it right!   ~ RDK

If books could talk, this one would say, “I am not as young as I used to be, but certainly not as old as some.”

This is a 1954 Whitman Publishing Company “Giant Book” and was “planned for the whole family’s Christmas pleasure.  The stories and poems have been selected by the Children’s Book Committee of the Child Study Association to the meet the many interests within a family group.”

How about that?

As young children, my brother and I were read Christmas stories from this book.  Then, we read the stories on our own.  Yellowed and cracking, the pages are in really rough shape, and the spine has been reinforced by thick fabric-based tape.

Since today is December 1st, I thought I would write a short daily series on 25 of the stories within this book.  Some may be funny, some may be literary analysis, and some may be reflective.  But all of them will be written immediately after I re-read a selection from my childhood, some 40 years ago.


Day 1: “Who Is Santa Claus?” by Verna Hills

Well, I’m already smitten.

Reading this story was like listening to the dialogue and vernacular of a Shirley Temple movie, or perhaps a family television show from the 50s and 60s.

There are rainbows in the sky, conversations are optimistic, and there’s always a moral.

The moral of this particular story?  Santa Claus can be anyone who brings joy to someone during Christmas…and even, perhaps, a parent.

I’ve scanned and imported the pages if you’d like the read the story for yourself.  My favorite section has to be when Martin’s friend Judy comes over to help make Christmas cards and they “took out [the] paste”!  PASTE!  I love that word!

I remember a young boy in my first grade class who used to eat his paste and eventually he could only access the contraband under strict rationing orders from our teacher.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did – and, remember…Santa Claus might be ANYONE you run into during this time of the year.

Yours truly,


P.S.  Just click on the photos to make them larger….


Other works about childhood literature at links below…

Chapter 1; Chapter 2; Chapter 3



28 thoughts on “1957 Christmas Book: Save the Book, or Write the Series? BOOK!”

  1. This is my very favorite Christmas book. My aunt bought it for me for Christmas when I was 3 years old, and 57 years later I still read it through every Christmastime. Mine is the 1957 version and it is getting pretty fragile. I also have had thoughts of either buying another copy or scanning it. I have a wand scanner which might work better than trying to lay it flat on a printer/scanner. If I get around to it, I’ll let you know if it worked.

  2. I have copy of edition The ChristmasBook. Very old. All pages except copyright page. Very fragile. the book I have has a picture of a horse drawn buggy with a family of people bearing gifts onn the cover. It might be 1952 editon. What estimated value.

  3. I had this very book as a child, and miss the stories in it! I managed to obtain the 1954 edition but am convinced some of the stories contained here are not all the same as the 1957 edition. I would appreciate if you could list some of the stories in the above copy. I believe, one of them is,”The Little Match Girl”. I, too, have very fond memories of this wonderful children’s classic book! Thank You!

  4. Dear Red,
    Just this weekend my brother asked if we still had the old christmas book with :Why Holly Berries are REd”.
    I was so sad that I can’t find our copy. This was one of our favorite Christmas rituals in the 50’s and we would love to share it with out grandchildren. If you still have the scanned version I would love to have a copy. Copyright and publication information would be wonderful.
    Thank you so very much for anyhelp.
    Sue Hilton

    1. Hi, Sue: When I get home today, I’ll look for the information you requested! And, I only scanned a couple of stories because I felt like the exercise was tearing up the old pages too much. I’ll see if I still have them. Take care, KR

  5. I just bought this book at the flea market for $1.00. It is in great condition. I wanted to research it so I could find out more about it. The pages are in very good condition. I am surprised how many people are looking for this book. I am a vintage book collector. Love this book!

  6. Dear RDK,

    Thank you.
    This has book always made me feel warm inside since I was a little girl. Over the years the book has moved from place to place with me. The Covers were lost, pages got wet, it looks like the book will crumble when touched. But each Christmas I bring it out just to feel that warmth and remember. I never knew why this one book did this to me until I read about Gunnar Dybwad. I had an older brohter who was mentally disabled, he only lived for six years and this most likely was his book. My Mother always told me we were close. I never remembered, but now I know why I feel warm inside when I hold this book.

    1. Lynne:

      I’ve had quite a few direct e-mails from people who have loved that book for so many reasons. Thanks for letting us know about YOUR reason, and sharing your personal connection!

      Take care,
      Red Dirt Kelly

  7. Hi RDK,
    I’m responding to your earlier post to me offering to scan a few pages from this wonderful book. The latest entry jogged me into action, now that the rush of Christmas and the holidays is over.
    I’d so appreciate it if you would send me scans of the inside front cover, the title page, the verso (backside of cover page) and the Table of Contents, so that I may restore my copy. Your help is invaluable!
    Best regards,

  8. Hi –

    I also had this book as a child and it was my favorite!! The (Little?) Blue Dishes!!

    Its a shame it was printed on such poor quality paper – almost the texture of flimsy construction paper if my memory serves correctly.

    Our copy had numerous pages repaired with scotch tape that cracked and yellowed over the years, along with the pictures colored in with crayons as it aged and was passed down. My mother never discarded our Christmas books, so I assume it finally just disintegrated!

    Would it be possible for you to email me the table of contents? Not a scan – just a list of the story names and authors. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Jane: I’m glad to scan and e-mail you table of contents. I also have one story scanned, and another on our blog. So there’s two “live and in person” for you. I’ll do this tomorrow or Thursday, and will send it to the e-mail you’ve included on your comments. Thanks, Red Dirt Kelly

  9. Thank you so much for publishing this article. I read this book as a child, and I still have it. However, my cover and the first few pages are missing. The pages you scanned helped me identify the book as I was cataloging it on librarything.com. Then I printed the cover and the missing pages, and I’m on my way to having the book restored. There are wonderful memories of time spent between the pages of this book! Thanks for sharing it.


    1. Hi, Debbi – I’ve been surprised at the number of people who have sent me e-mails re: this particular book. Thank you for sharing “librarything.com” with those on this post. It might be helpful to them as well. I’ve scanned another story for someone else as well. If you need any other pages (as long as it’s just a few), let me know! Indeed…the memories created from reading this book are wonderful. It was my mother’s then she read it to us. Take care, RDK

    1. well, I did my best! all scanned, and now sent your way on e-mail. I truly hope your mother and children enjoy the story!

  10. I have been searching for this book for years and years!!! Could you please send me info!! Thank you thank you

    1. Hey there – of course. What kind of information do you need? Do you simply need the copyright and publication information? Just let me know and I’ll send it to your e-mail address you logged with your comment. Thanks, RDK

        1. Hi, Julia – if you and Kevin do make an exchange, please let me know and I’ll delete this string of comments. That would help the next person who is looking as well. Thanks! ~ RDK

  11. that would be awesome. i have never heard or read the whole story myself but my mother who was born in 1952 has been talking about how it was read to her as a little girl as long as i can remember. Now my mother has 7 grandchildren (all under age 5) and is dying to read them the story. thanks a million.

  12. Dear,

    I have been trying to track this book down for a few years. It was a book that my mother remembers from her childhood. As I am guessing that you wouldn’t be interested in selling it. Is there any chance you could scan the story “why holly berries are red”. I think its on page 217. It was her favorite story and I have been trying to track it down for awhile.


    1. Brian –
      First of all, I just have to say, “THAT WAS MY FAVORITE STORY TOOOOO!!” What IS it about that story? Native Americans have so many “why turtles are slow, or why grasshoppers spit juice” types of myths… Perhaps that story is part of our own personal mythology for Christmas? Yes, I’ll scan it for you. I was really worried about damaging the book further, but I’m willing to send you that story.
      Thanks, RDK
      P.S. I’ll need a couple of days – look for it this weekend. Thanks.

    2. I have also been trying to find this book for ages – and for that story! My Father had this book until it was stolen during a break-in. I have such fond memories of it being read when I was little.

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