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Read in Ned: Tales for a Winter’s Night

No better time to share stories aloud than this solstice season

By Elektra Greer

Though the Holy Days and Holidays we celebrate this season may differ, the yearning for communal light at the peak of winter darkness is nearly universal. Whether candles, a yule log, or twinkling icicle LEDs, we are all looking for ways to light up the dark.

Recently, on a late night bus trip down the canyon, I noticed the glimmer of our library lights reflecting in the mud-splattered windows of the “N.” My overly sentimental self couldn’t help smiling, imagining the refracted, dancing lights as an homage to solstice, our books bringing light to dark nights.

The need for story is as universal as the need for light. It’s what bonds us as humans. Before the written word, electronic devices, and downloadable audio books, oral storytelling was what linked communities and generations. When is the last time you heard a story? Or told a story?

A storyteller was and is more than an artist or performer; he or she is the keeper of memories and myths. Librarians love to storytell and we make house calls! Let us know if your group would like a special storytelling visit and we’ll take it from there!

There is no better time to share stories aloud than this solstice season. Start with a few personal stories, perhaps some Glühwein, and then a classic tale. Below are a few Holiday favourites you may not have visited in a while. Don’t be shy. The night wind needs a good story.

The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry. American
A timeless classic to be told at Christmas about the true meaning of gift giving.

The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen. Danish
Gerda, Kai and a splinter in the heart. Imagery and symbolism that linger a lifetime.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Hans Christian Andersen. Danish
This tale of a tin soldier’s love for a ballerina will make you weep. In a good way.

Silver Packages, Cynthia Rylant, American.
Sweet Appalachian Christmas story; classic family read aloud.

The Legend of Poinsettia, Adapted by Tomie dePaola. Mexican
A beautiful legend of how the flor de la Nochebuena (poinsettia) came to be.

The Tomten, adapted by Astrid Lindgren. Swedish
Fun, magical tale of this famous Swedish spirit that comes at night and protects the winter farm.

Twas the Night Before Christmas, Clement Clarke Moore. American
“When all through the house…..”

The Girl and the Winter Whirlwinds, many folktale adaptations. Bulgarian
A winter witch, a brave girl and the return of Spring!

Why the Evergreen Trees Keep Their Leaves in Winter,” folktale, Unknown origin.
Kindness keeps you “evergreen.”

Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun, Adapted by Geri Keams. Cherokee folktale.
“Yes I am old and may seem weak,” says Grandmother Spider, “but strength can be measured in many ways.”

East of the Sun and West of the Moon, many adaptations. Norwegian.
A white bear, a young girl and a quest. A Nordic Cupid and Psyche.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Patricia Polacco. American with Russian and Ukranian elements.
Babushka, latkes and a different kind of miracle.

What’s a favourite Winter tale you remember from your childhood?


Elektra Greer is the Director of the Nederland Community Library.

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