The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

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The Caldecott-winning illustrations of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) are only part of the magic of this Christmas story. One Christmas Eve, a young boy lies awake, listening for Santa’s sleigh bells. But he doesn’t hear bells: he hears a train. And there it is outside the door, waiting to take him to the North Pole. The ride on the train in pajamas with other children is only the beginning of the fun, for he meets Santa, who gives him a very special gift. The boy’s story is an adventure-filled reminder to keep believing.

The Polar Express shares one boy’s middle-of-the-night journey to the North Pole and back again on a special Christmas Eve train. The adult narrator’s overview gives the entire book a more universal feel, making it into a story even adults will enjoy reading and rereading as we ponder our own history with the holiday magical traditions. It is a great book to expand the tradition of Santa Claus into the youngest generations.

Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1986. Get this book at bookshop.org

Reviewed on December 4, 2023

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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