Running · Teaching

Christmas Stories to Teach in Middle School English (and Where to Find Them for Free)

The countdown to Thanksgiving Break is in full swing, which means the countdown to Christmas Break is actually what we teachers are eyeing right now. I always find the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas to be both excruciatingly long and a chaotic whirlwind. Here are some seasonally appropriate stories to teach between your countdowns to your breaks (and the links to free copies)!

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This is a classic story that’s fun to teach because there are so many different versions. Finding two different forms of A Christmas Carol makes for the perfect lesson to compare and contrast the differing structures of the two versions (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.5).

2. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

This story centers around a little girl attempting to sell matchsticks on Christmas Eve to no avail. Afraid to go home out of fear of her father, she stays out in the cold using her matchsticks to keep warm. Each match brings a vision. When the girl is out of matches, she ends up freezing to death on Christmas Eve. This is a great story for teaching imagery and symbolism.

3. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

This is another classic Christmas story that many students have likely heard in one form or another. It’s a fun, cheery read and I use it to reinforce a few poetic devices related to structure.

4. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

This story details the memory of a particular Christmas in which Buddy has been left with cousins in Alabama for the holiday while his mother is working in New York. A Christmas Memory is an autobiographic short story and is great for working on characterization.

5. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

This is another classic Christmas story and it’s one every middle schooler should read at some point. I like to have my students make predictions about how Jim will come up money to get Della a gift.

6. A Letter From Santa Claus by Mark Twain

This is an actual letter Samuel Clemens wrote to his daughter when she was sick. he pretends to be Santa in the letter. It’s a really neat piece of lesser known writing from Twain that makes for a very festive read.

7. The Elves and the Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm

This fairy tale is easy to read and makes for a good discussion afterwards. I have my students write their own modern version of this story and they love the opportunity for creative writing.


Check out these no-fuss printable and digital Bell Ringers themed for the month of December to help students review and practice opinion writing, cause and effect, reading comprehension, and correcting common errors.

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