There are a few traditions that are crucial to the full Christmas experience: listening to Christmas music, putting up Christmas lights, making your favorite Christmas desserts, and, of course, reading Christmas stories.
The following six stories are sure to make your family smile at Christmas — especially now that they’ve been brought to life like never before on the iPad. So sit around the fire, pour yourself some mulled wine or hot chocolate, and enjoy these Christmas classics!
A Charlie Brown Christmas ($5.99)
Charles M. Schultz’s wonderful story about the Peanuts gang and their Christmas antics is one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time; it’s such a cultural icon that “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” is now a phrase used to describe any small, bare-looking pine tree around Christmastime. The movie won an Emmy and a Peabody Award, and the soundtrack went triple platinum in the US—there’s no denying it’s an absolute classic.
The iPad app recreates the original movie as an interactive pop-up book, allowing users to play the piano, decorate their own Christmas tree, participate in the Lights and Display contest and more. It also includes a couple of educational features, like word and note highlighting. Maybe best of all, it’s narrated by Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown. It may seem expensive for an app, but it’s absolutely worth it.
The Night Before Christmas ($1.99)
Instead of adapting a TV movie, this app brings a classic Christmas poem to life. The updated, modern look of this app sets it apart from many other Christmas books and apps — but it doesn’t stray too far from the classic look of Christmas stories (unlike the Twas the Night Before Christmas app, which would have given me nightmares as a child).
Fantastic illustration, options for narration, “read to myself” mode, and an affordable price tag makes this an unbeatable Christmas app.
Note: At the time of writing, The Night Before Christmas is free to download from the App Store!
The Nativity Story – Popup Deluxe Edition ($3.99) [No Longer Available]
There are loads of Christmas stories about Santa, snowmen and presents, but the original Christmas story has some different characters at the forefront. This rendition of the nativity is beautifully recreated in the style of a pop-up book, adding interactivity that can only be achieved via a digital medium.
Knocking on doors, ringing bells, and even playing music with an angel choir lets kids (and adults!) get in on the fun and help Joseph and Mary make it to their destination.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! [No Longer Available]
Another must-watch at Christmas is Dr. Seuss’ story of the Grinch and his transformation from Christmas killjoy to holiday hero. This app brings the experience to the iPad, and while it’s not as interactive as the Charlie Brown app, it does help young ones learn with word highlighting and the ability to learn words through pictures.
You can even record your own narration and send it to others, which could make a fun Christmas surprise for relatives! Of course, if you’d rather leave the narrating to a professional, the app offers that, as well.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ($3.99)
Another app by Oceanhouse Media, the developer who created the above-mentioned Grinch app, Rudolph is a long-time children’s favorite. As with Grinch, word highlighting and visual word learning make it great for helping young kids learn to read, and the ability to record your own narration is a fun addition.
The narration flits back and forth between clips from the TV movie and professional narration, making for a bit of a strange mash-up, but the animation is great, and the story itself is a good addition to your Christmas iPad collection.
The Berenstain Bears children’s books are long-time favorites of many families (my own included), and their tree-trimming story is another Christmas classic. The app adds interactivity by letting young ones “lift the flap” to find hidden items and treasures.
As with the other Oceanhouse apps, you can also record your own narration, save it, and share it with others. And if you’re looking for more Berenstain Bears Christmas fun, check out The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree ($4.99).
What’s Your Favorite Christmas Story?
These Christmas stories are great for sharing with your family around the holidays, and will appeal to a wide range of ages– but there are plenty of other options, too. My personal favorite is Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (though, lamentably, there’s no app version yet). What’s your favorite Christmas story? Share your thoughts below!
Do you read Christmas stories on the iPad, or do you stick to books?