Christmas Short Stories and Poems for High School


Let’s stop pretending it’s not Christmas season. Here are some good short stories, poems and other Christmassy literary works to teach during the holidays.

“The Gift of the Magi” by O’ Henry. I’ll admit I get a little teary-eyed when I read “The Gift of the Magi.” It’s an oft anthologized short story, so there’s a good chance you have a copy of it somewhere in your school. Or you could find it online with our good friend Google. If you plan on teaching it, teach irony. Here’s a brilliant teacher’s guide for “The Gift of the Magi.”

“A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote. Here’s another short story you can find in many high school literature books or on the miracle known as the Internet. The story revolves around a boy named Buddy who often finds himself in mischief with his elderly cousin. As with the next story, “A Christmas Memory” is a good example of what a personal narrative can do.

“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas. Thomas uses imagery and figurative language to relate his memory of Christmases past. This personal narrative makes an excellent start to a personal narrative writing assignment (I’m sure there’s something in the Common Core Curriculum for that) or a figurative language assignment.

“Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There are many poems about Christmas, very few more famous than Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells.” If you’re interested in teaching poetic devices, you may want to tackle the importance of rhyme scheme, repetition, poetic form and theme.

“Nativity” by John Donne. Nothing screams Christmas like a John Donne Sonnet. This poem deals with the religious meaning of the holiday, so you may want to preface your study of the poem with a disclaimer. This would be a great opportunity to teach allusion.

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