Why You Should Read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

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the polar express

You are probably familiar with the 2004 Christmas movie The Polar Express, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, but did you know it’s based on the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburgh? Find out more about this classic Christmas story book:

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The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express is a children’s book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1985.

Now considered to be a classic Christmas story for younger kids, it won the Caldecott Medal for illustration of an American children’s picture book.

The book is set partially in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the author’s home town, and was inspired in part by the author’s memories of visiting department stores as a child.

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The Story

Late at night on Christmas Eve, after the entire town has gone to sleep, a small boy waits up to hear something he is told he will never hear. The sleigh bells on Santa’s reindeer.

Instead, he hears a different, equally unexpected sound – the grinding and hissing of an old steam train stopping in front of his house. The Polar Express has arrived to take him to the North Pole.

Whisked away through towns and cities, through deep dark forests and into the far north, they finally arrive at the North Pole, a beautiful hidden city filled with the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas.

Once there, the boy is chosen by Santa himself to receive the very first gift of Christmas. Santa tells him he can choose anything he wants, and the boy chooses the gift of his heart’s desire….. a bell from Santa’s sleigh.

The Polar Express has had numerous reprintings since 1985. Here it is read by Liam Neeson.

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Why this book is a classic

This book has grown into a classic, with good reason. Beautifully written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express speaks of the pure magic and delight of the season.

It leaves behind a world of materialism and cynicism and conjures a moment of belief and wonder.

While it was made into the film a few years ago, I thoroughly recommend, in fact I insist, that you read this eloquent, gentle picture book, and share it with the entire family.

The simplicity and innocence of the story and the beauty of the illustrations will warm your hearts on cold winter nights.

The Polar Express is a powerful seasonal tradition in our house. Its tender message speaks most poignantly to those of us who can no longer hear the perfect clarity of the bell.

Over to you now. Have you read The Polar Express to your child? Tell us in the comments below. 

Why you should read The Polar Express



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