The Miracle on 34th Street

Valentine Davies
Tomie de Paola
1 578 660 270
Galahad Books
Number of pages: 
118 pages
Grade / Age level: 

When I was little, there was one Advent tradition that really stands out in my mind: the annual viewing of the movie, Miracle on 34th Street. It usually aired on the last weekday before Christmas Eve - we'd be home on Christmas Break, wrapping presents or decorating the house, and this classic would be playing in the background. I'm talking about THE classic 1947 movie - Natalie Wood as the little girl, Maureen O'Hara and John Payne as the "love interest", Gene Lockhart as the judge with a heart, and the ultimate St. Nick: Edmund Gwenn. This is the movie to start your holiday season!The idea for the movie originated as the Davies family watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from their apartment in post-WWII New York City. Mr. Davies remarked on the growing commercialism of the season and asked "What would Santa do if he were here today?" The answer was a classic movie from 20thCentury Fox. The book, The Miracle on 34th Street, is true to this original movie - written by Davies and his wife after the movie's debut, the book was an instant success. The copy we have, reprinted in 1998 by Galahad Books, is richly illustrated by Tomie de Paola.This has been our lunch-time read-aloud since Advent began. The book stays very close to the movie but does have some slight differences - there is no young Alfred in this book, but Mr. Sawyer is just as rotten!Reading this book aloud to my 3, 5, and 6 year-olds has helped me understand why I've always loved this story. Kris Kringle explains early on that "Christmas isn't just a day. It's a frame of mind." Towards the end of the book, Doris explains to her daughter that "faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to... Anyone could have faith when everything was fine. But real faith meant believing, rain or shine." These two quotes are a summation of why Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday and why I don't mind my little ones believing in Santa Claus - he's the personification of the magic of the season and the mystery of Incarnate Word!

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