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Classic Christmas Stories for Children and Families


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The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Cover art of classic Christmas story The Gift of the Magi Christmas picture book edition

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, with illustrations by P.J. Lynch

Candlewick Press
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry is a classic Christmas story that makes a wonderful Christmas read-aloud for children 10 and older and their families to enjoy together. The 2008 children's Christmas picture book edition of The Gift of the Magi, published by Candlewick Press, is illustrated with memorable artwork by P.J. Lynch. His poignant and expressive watercolors strengthen the impact of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. This moving tale of love and sacrifice can help to put the purpose of gift giving into perspective for tweens and teens with “wish” lists a mile long.

The Gift of the Magi – The Story

The story is set in New York City in the early 1900s. A young couple, Mr. and Mrs. James Dillingham Young – Della and Jim – live in a shabby apartment. They have very little money, but a great love for one another. Della and Jim have two treasures of which they are both very proud – Della’s beautiful long hair and Jim’s gold watch, which belonged to his father and grandfather before him. The story that unfolds reveals the true meaning of gift giving as both Della and Jim sacrifice their own treasure to buy a Christmas gift to enhance the other’s treasure. Unbeknownst to one another, Della sells her long hair to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim’s watch, and Jim sells his watch to buy tortoise shell hair combs for Della’s long hair. While the result is shock and confusion when Della and Jim exchange gifts, the depth of their love for one another is revealed by the sacrifices each has made for the other.

The Gift of the Magi is a good book to read together as a family and, then, discuss what O. Henry meant when he said, “…of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest...They are the magi.” Compare prices. (Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780763635305)

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