My first memory of The Nutcracker isn’t from any kind of holiday tradition we had when I was a little girl. It is actually from when, as a teenager, I attended a ballet performance of this beloved story.
Memories of The Nutcracker
I was in high school, and my friends and I decided to make a whole evening out of the event.
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We got dressed up in our Sunday best, ate dinner at Olive Garden (That was a big deal at the time!), and then ventured just down the block to our local concert hall.
This theater was where our symphony hosted The Nutcracker performance every year.
Honestly, I wasn’t all that familiar with the original story.
If the truth be told, I had spent most of my formative years reading The Babysitter’s Club and watching Full House. Things like The Nutcracker simply didn’t interest me all that much.
Fast-forward to my years as an elementary classroom teacher. It was during this time when I attended a number of different performances where my students who were part of a ballet class (or sometimes another type of dance class) had various parts in this classic Christmas story.
When each little young dancer would come to school and tell me which part they had earned in their upcoming performance, I honestly never knew if their part was an exciting one…or if they were disappointed they didn’t have a larger role.
Looking back on that evening out with my high school friends, I remember our time at Olive Garden more than anything.
Please pass the basket of breadsticks.
Anyone else have a hard time saying no to Olive Garden breadsticks?
I feel the same way about the Magical Land of Sweets…
Anyway, watching my students performance a children’s version of this traditional story was a lot of fun, and definitely a better fit for my attention span.
I was starting to get more acquainted with the story and started to wonder if I might enjoy revisiting another large-stage performance of The Nutcracker.
As long as dinner at Olive Garden was once again involved, of course.
I still haven’t made it to the performing arts center to see the ballet performance held here each holiday season, but now that I have little girls, I’m thinking it might be time to add this to our official mother-daughter bucket list.
My two oldest kiddos are boys. They weren’t all that interested in Nutcracker story books. Their little sisters, however – now that’s a different story!
They love all things ballet and dance and have been captivated by the sweet little collection of Nutcracker books we’ve started in our family library.
The Nutcracker Story Books for Kids
The Nutcracker Story Books for Kids we’ve found over the years have been such sweet editions to our read-aloud time together throughout the Christmas season.
When it comes to classic stories of any kind, I love having a few different versions on hand.
This makes it possible to begin – at a very early age -learning how to compare and contrast.
In our homeschooling, we have done this with a variety of different folktales, fables, fairy tales, etc. and I have enjoyed doing it with this classic tale as well.
Questions You Can Ask:
- Do these illustrations look the same as the ones in the other book?
- Did the author/illustrator make the character(s) look different in their version?
- Do you remember the character(s) acting this way in the other book?
- What did you like best about this version of the story?
- Which one of our books is the shortest? Longest?
You can ask these kinds of questions and then sit back and allow the conversation to take off on its own.
There is always lots to chat about with the different characters in a story. Even the young readers in your home will notice things you can discuss with them as you read together.
Collecting Nutcracker Story Books
In recent years, I’ve come across simple versions of this story while browsing books at yard sales, thrift stores, antique malls, and dollar stores.
We also own a couple of different versions from Usborne – but I was able to find them on Amazon for you. Hopefully they’re still in stock when you go to browse.
My girls really love being able to press the button and hear the music in this one.
This one is a board book version that has beautiful cutouts and one lift-the-flap area within the book.
Another sweet interactive version of The Nutcracker is this board book with push, pull, and slide pages.
Books like these make it possible to experience the story together in a unique way.
And now for my very favorite version of The Nutcracker – a more mature picture book version that I sense will be read time and time again in our house.
This is a great book for readers who may feel they have outgrown the board book stage.
The story is written in an easy-to-understand way and has truly beautiful illustrations.
Based on the New York City Ballet version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Watch and listen to my favorite Nutcracker book as a read-aloud on YouTube:
My kids will tell you that I love the surprise of coming to a page that is supposed to be turned to read.
I truly love when we’re reading a book together for the first time and this happens.
Then every time we read it following, I pretend to be surprised all over again. What can I say – it’s my thing. My kids just know to expect me to act this way.
This is the little batch of Nutcracker books we own.
We have borrowed others from our local library. I can hear some of you saying, “Yay for free books!”.
While I wouldn’t be opposed to adding another beautiful copy of the story to our collection, I do have to be careful.
I am a book lover, and if it was up to me, I’d own them all – so I have to set some kind of perimeters around what we have space to own.
I’m sure you fellow book lovers understand the struggle.
Special Gift Idea
Wanting to gift a book with an experience? A great gift idea would be a version of The Nutcracker in story book form (or a different ballet book they might enjoy), possibly paired with tickets to see this classic story on stage.
Additional Versions of the Nutcracker
- The Nutcracker by Cottage Door Press – The next one I purchase will probably be this one. Cottage Door Press books are so sweet!
- Little Golden Books The Nutcracker – Little Golden Books are so precious for early readers.
- Dover Books Easy-to-Read Nutcracker Story
- Jan Brett’s The Nutcracker – Jan Brett’s picture books are so unique. They most definitely stand out on the shelf.
Draw a Nutcracker
Watch The Nutcracker
More Christmas Book Lists You Might Enjoy
- Christmas Books for Kids
- Our Favorite Christmas Tree Books & Activities
- Little Blue Truck’s Christmas Activities
- Advent Resources for December
This post includes affiliate links to books we love. Thank you for your support of This Little Home of Mine.