What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

This is a question one group of students was talking about in class the other day. One said, “Die Hard, of course!” Another said, “The Nightmare BeforeChristmas” A third said she didn’t know any Christmas movies. My favorite Christmas story is “A Christmas Carol” and there are many movie versions.

Here’s a graded (leveled) text from Tween Tribune about why Charles Dickens wrote the story.

“Dickens may not have gotten rich off of the publication of A Christmas Carol, but he did make the world a little richer.”

I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a new movie out this year called The Man Who Invented Christmas, which is about this origin of the story and looks like a lot of fun (unfortunately, no date on when or if it’s coming to theaters in Japan).

Of the many movie versions, I like the one with Albert Finney the best, though the one with Patrick Stewart is good, too, and I always enjoy

There are also other versions, like “Scrooged” with Bill Murray, and the seasonal favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” is also based on the story.

So have you seen any of these? Have you read the Dickens story? I used to teach at a JHS/HS that would put on this play at Christmas time (it was either that or Les Mis).

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First books

Do you remember the first book that had an impact on you? A few that I remember very, very vividly from my childhood, as much for the pictures as the stories. Not suggesting you should buy these, but take a look at the “Look inside”:

Anyway, I thought about this after seeing this video about a non-profit called First Book in a rural part of Iowa, where a “lunch lady” is organizing a book bus to help get books to children during vacations:

Our short winter vacation is coming up soon. What do you plan to read?

Using comics to tackle serious issues

I didn’t read Maus until a few years ago. The story of the author interviewing his father, a Holocaust survivor, about his experiences during the war, was written and serialized in the 1980s. Though it’s not considered to be the first graphic novel, it was the first to win a Pultizer Prize, and it has influenced the way graphic novels have been done since.

In this video, we learn about how the novel was drawn:

Curious George

In Japan, he’s known as George the Monkey (おさるのジョージ). Easy to understand, but not as descriptive.

Did you know that he escaped the Nazis during WW2? Here’s the story:

I was looking around for something else related to Curious George and found a couple of easy-to-read articles:

“Curious George celebrates 76th birthday”

“85-year-old cycles from home to library every day”

The second one isn’t really about the character; it’s about this elderly man’s energy, inquisitiveness, and love of reading. Towards the end of the article, it says that people who know him were asked to liken him to a character in a book. One person said he was like Curious George.

That leads to a writing prompt for people who like to read fiction: Which character in fiction do you most resemble? How about a parent or grandparent or a teacher or coach? Or an eccentric neighbor?