Produced by Mike Lough
GOOD STORIES FOR GREAT HOLIDAYS
ARRANGED FOR STORY-TELLING AND READING ALOUD
AND FOR THE CHILDREN'S OWN READING
By Frances Jenkins Olcott
Index according to reading level is appended.
TO THE STORY-TELLER
This volume, though intended also for the children's own reading and for
reading aloud, is especially planned for story-telling. The latter is a
delightful way of arousing a gladsome holiday spirit, and of showing the
inner meanings of different holidays. As stories used for this purpose
are scattered through many volumes, and as they are not always in the
concrete form required for story-telling, I have endeavored to bring
together myths, legends, tales, and historical stories suitable to
There are here collected one hundred and twenty stories for seventeen
holidays - stories grave, gay, humorous, or fanciful; also some that
are spiritual in feeling, and others that give the delicious thrill
of horror so craved by boys and girls at Halloween time. The range
of selection is wide, and touches all sides of wholesome boy and girl
nature, and the tales have the power to arouse an appropriate holiday
As far as possible the stories are presented in their original form.
When, however, they are too long for inclusion, or too loose in
structure for story-telling purposes, they are adapted.
Adapted stories are of two sorts. Condensed: in which case a piece of
literature is shortened, scarcely any changes being made in the original
language. Rewritten: here the plot, imagery, language, and style of the
original are retained as far as possible, while the whole is moulded
into form suitable for story-telling. Some few stories are built up on a
slight framework of original matter.
Thus it may be seen that the tales in this volume have not been reduced
to the necessarily limited vocabulary and uniform style of one editor,
but that they are varied in treatment and language, and are the products
of many minds.
A glance at the table of contents will show that not only have
selections been made from modern authors and from the folklore of
different races, but that some quaint old literary sources have been
drawn on. Among the men and books contributing to these pages are the
Gesta Romanorum, Il Libro d'Oro, Xenophon, Ovid, Lucian, the Venerable
Bede, William of Malmesbury. John of Hildesheim, William Caxton, and the
more modern Washington Irving, Hugh Miller, Charles Dickens, and Henry
Cabot Lodge; also those immortals, Hans Andersen, the Brothers Grimm,
Horace E. Scudder, and others.
The stories are arranged to meet the needs of story-telling in the
graded schools. Reading-lists, showing where to find additional material
for story-telling and collateral reading, are added. Grades in which the
recommended stories are useful are indicated.
The number of selections in the volume, as well as the references
to other books, is limited by the amount and character of available
material. For instance, there is little to be found for Saint
Valentine's Day, while there is an overwhelming abundance of fine
stories for the Christmas season. Stories like Dickens's "Christmas
Carol," Ouida's "Dog of Flanders," and Hawthorne's tales, which are too
long for inclusion and would lose their literary beauty if condensed,
are referred to in the lists. Volumes containing these stories may be
procured at the public library.
A subject index is appended. This indicates the ethical, historical, and
other subject-matter of interest to the teacher, thus making the volume
serviceable for other occasions besides holidays.
In learning her tale the story-teller is advised not to commit it to
memory. Such a method is apt to produce a wooden or glib manner of
presentation. It is better for her to read the story over and over again
until its plot, imagery, style, and vocabulary become her own, and then
to retell it, as Miss Bryant says, "simply, vitally, joyously."
NEW YEAR'S DAY (January 1)
THE FAIRY'S NEW YEAR GIFT: Emilie Poulsson, In the Child's World
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL: Hans Christian Andersen, Stories and Tales
THE TWELVE MONTHS: Alexander Chodsvko, Slav Fairy Tales
THE MAIL-COACH PASSENGERS: Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales
LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY (February 10)
HE RESCUES THE BIRDS: Noah Brooks, Abraham Lincoln
LINCOLN AND THE LITTLE GIRL: Charles W. Moores, Life of Abraham Lincoln
for Boys and Girls
TRAINING FOR THE PRESIDENCY: Orison Swett Matden, Winning Out
WHY LINCOLN WAS CALLED "HONEST ABE": Noah Brooks, Abraham Lincoln
A STRANGER AT FIVE-POINTS: Adapted
A SOLOMON COME TO JUDGMENT: Charles W. Moores, Life of Abraham Lincoln
for Boys and Girls
GEORGE PICKETT'S FRIEND: Charles W. Moores, Life of Abraham Lincoln for
Boys and Girls
LINCOLN THE LAWYER: Z. A. Mudge, The Forest Boy
THE COURAGE OF HIS CONVICTIONS: Adapted
MR. LINCOLN AND THE BIBLE: Z. A. Mudge, The Forest Boy
HIS SPRINGFIELD FAREWELL ADDRESS [Lincoln]
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY (February 14)
SAINT VALENTINE: Millicent Olmsted
A GIRL'S VALENTINE CHARM: The Connoisseur, 1775
MR. PEPYS HIS VALENTINE: Samuel Pepys, Diary
CUPID AND PSYCHE: Josephine Preston Peabody, Old Greek Folk Stories
WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY (February 22)
THREE OLD TALES: M. L. Weems, Life of George Washington, with Curious
YOUNG GEORGE AND THE COLT: Horace E. Scudder, George Washington
WASHINGTON THE ATHLETE: Albert F. Blaisdell and Francis R. Ball, Hero
Stories from American History
WASHINGTON'S MODESTY: Henry Cabot Lodge, George Washington
WASHINGTON AT YORKTOWN: Henry Cabot lodge, George Washington
RESURRECTION DAY (Easter Sunday) (March or April)
A LESSON OF FAITH: Mrs. Alfred Gatty, Parables from Nature
A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR: Charles Dickens
THE LOVELIEST ROSE IN THE WORLD: Hans Christian Andersen, Stories and
MAY DAY (May 1) THE SNOWDROP: Hans Christian Andersen; Adapted by Bailey
THE THREE LITTLE BUTTERFLY BROTHERS: From the German
THE WATER DROP: Friedrich Wilhelm Carove, Story without an End,
translated by Sarah Austin
THE SPRING BEAUTY: Henry R. Schoolcraft, The Myth of Hiawatha
THE FAIRY TULIPS: English Folk-Tale
THE STREAM THAT RAN AWAY: Mary Austin, The Basket Woman
THE ELVES: Harriet Mazwell Converse, Myths and legends of the New York
THE CANYON FLOWERS: Ralph Connor, The Sky Pilot
CLYTIE, THE HELIOTROPE: Ovid, Metamorphoses
HYACINTHUS: Ovid, Metamorphoses
ECHO AND NARCISSUS: Ovid, Metamorphoses
MOTHERS' DAY (Second Sunday in May)
THE LARK AND ITS YOUNG ONES: P. V. Ramuswami Raju, Indian Fables
CORNELIA S JEWELS: James Baldwin, Fifty Famous Stories Retold
QUEEN MARGARET AND THE ROBBERS: Albert F. Blaisdell, Stories from
THE REVENGE OF CORIOLANUS: Charles Morris, Historical Tales
THE WIDOW AND HER THREE SONS
MEMORIAL DAY (May 30) AND FLAG DAY (June 14) Confederate Memorial Day
is celebrated in some States on April 26 and in others on May 10.
BETSY ROSS AND THE FLAG: Harry Pringle Ford
THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER: Eva March Tappan, Hero Stories from American
THE LITTLE DRUMMER-BOY: Aloert Bushnell Hart, The Romance of the Civil
A FLAG INCIDENT: M. M. Thomas, Captain Phil
TWO HERO-STORIES OF THE CIVIL WAR: Ben La Bree, Camp Fires of the
THE YOUNG SENTINEL: Z. A. Mudge, The Forest Boy
THE COLONEL OF THE ZOUAVES: Noah Brooks, Abraham Lincoln
GENERAL SCOTT AND THE STARS AND STRIPES: E. D. Townsend, Anecdotes of
the Civil War
INDEPENDENCE DAY (July 4)
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: Washington Irving, Life of Washington
THE SIGNING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: H. A. Guerber, The Story
of the Thirteen Colonies
A BRAVE GIRL: James Johonnot, Stories of Heroic Deeds
THE BOSTON TEA-PARTY: John Andrews, Letter to a friend written in 1773
A GUNPOWDER STORY: John Esten Cooke, Stories of the Old Dominion
THE CAPTURE OF FORT TICONDEROGA: Washington Irving, Life of Washington
WASHINGTON AND THE COWARDS: Washington Irving, Life of Washington
LABOR DAY (First Monday in September)
THE SMITHY: P. V. Ramaswami Raju, Indian Fables
THE NAIL: The Brothers Grimm, German Household Tales
THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER: Horace E. Scudder, Book of Fables and Folk
THE HILLMAN AND THE HOUSEWIFE: Juliana Horatia Ewing, Old Fashioned
HOFUS THE STONE CUTTER, A JAPANESE LEGEND: The Riserside Third Reader
ARACHNE: Josephine Preston Peabody, Old Greek Folk Stories
THE METAL KING: A German Folk-Tale
THE CHOICE OF HERCULES: Xenophon, Memorabilia of Socrates
THE SPEAKING STATUE: Gesta Romanorum
THE CHAMPION STONE CUTTER: Hugh Miller
BILL BROWN'S TEST: Cleveland Moffett, Careers of Danger and Daring
COLUMBUS DAY (October 12)
COLUMBUS AND THE EGG: James Baldwin, Thirty More Famous Stories Retold
COLUMBUS AT LA RABIDA: Washington Irving, Life of Christopher Columbus
THE MUTINY: A. de Lamartine, Life of Columbus
THE FIRST LANDING OF COLUMBUS IN THE NEW WORLD: Washington Irving, Life
of Christopher Columbus
HALLOWEEN (October 31)
THE OLD WITCH: The Brothers Grimm, German Household Tales
SHIPPEITARO: Mary F. Nixon-Roulet, Japanese Folk Stories and Fairy Tales
HANSEL AND GRETHEL: The Brothers Grimm, German Household Tales
BURG HILL'S ON FIRE: Elizabeth W. Grierson, Children's Book of Celtic
THE KING OF THE CATS: Ernest Rhys, Fairy-Gold
THE STRANGE VISITOR: Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales
THE BENEVOLENT GOBLIN: Gesta Romanorum
THE PHANTOM KNIGHT OF THE VANDAL CAMP: Gesta Romanorum
THANKSGIVING DAY (Last Thursday in November)
THE FIRST HARVEST-HOME IN PLYMOUTH: W. De Loss Lore, Jr., The Fast and
Thanksgiving Days of New England
THE MASTER OF THE HARVEST: Mrs. Alfred Gatty, Parables from Nature
SAINT CUTHBERT'S EAGLE: The Venerable Bede, Life and Miracles of Saint
THE EARS OF WHEAT: The Brothers Grimm, German Household Tales
HOW INDIAN CORN CAME INTO THE WORLD: Henry R. Schoolcraft, The Myth of
THE NUTCRACKER DWARF: Count Franz Pocci, Fur Frohliche Kinder
THE PUMPKIN PIRATES, A TALE FROM LUCIAN: Alfred J. Church, The Greek
THE SPIRIT OF THE CORN: Harriet Mazwell Converse,
Myths and Legends of the New York State Iroquois
THE HORN OF PLENTY: Ovid, Metamorphoses
CHRISTMAS DAY (December 25)
LITTLE PICCOLA: Celia Thazter, Stories and Poems for Children
THE STRANGER CHILD, A LEGEND: Count Franz Pocci, Fur Frohliche Kinder
SAINT CHRISTOPHER: William Caxton, Golden Legend
THE CHRISTMAS ROSE, AN OLD LEGEND: Lizzie Deas, Flower Favourites
THE WOODEN SHOES OF LITTLE WOLFF: Francois Coppee
THE PINE TREE: Hans Christian Andersen, Wonder Stories
THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO: Frances Browne, Granny's Wonderful Chair
THE CHRISTMAS FAIRY OF STRASBURG, A GERMAN FOLK-TALE: J. Stirling Coyne,
Illustrated London News
THE THREE PURSES, A LEGEND: William S. Walsh, Story of Santa Klaus
THE THUNDER OAK, A SCANDINAVIAN LEGEND: William S. Walsh and Others
THE CHRISTMAS THORN OF GLASTONBURY, A LEGEND OF ANCIENT BRITAIN: William
of Malmesbury and Others
THE THREE KINGS OF COLOGNE, A LEGEND OF THE MIDDLE AGES: John of
Hildesheim, Modernized by H. S. Morris
THE LITTLE TREE THAT LONGED FOR OTHER LEAVES: Friedrieh Ruckert
WHY THE EVERGREEN TREES NEVER LOSE THEIR LEAVES: Florence Holbrook, Book
of Nature Myths
WHY THE ASPEN QUIVERS: Old legend
THE WONDER TREE: Friedrich Adolph Krummacher, Parables
THE PROUD OAK TREE: Old Fable
BAUCIS AND PHILEMON: H. P. Maskell, Francis Storr,
Half-a-Hundred Hero Tales
THE UNFRUITFUL TREE: Friedrich Adolph Krummacher, Parables
THE DRYAD OF THE OLD OAK: James Russell Lowell, Rhoecus (a poem)
DAPHNE: OVID, Metamorphoses BIRD DAY
THE OLD WOMAN WHO BECAME A WOODPECKER: Phoebe Cary, A Legend of the
THE BOY WHO BECAME A ROBIN: Henry R. Schoolcraft, The Myth of Hiawatha
THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW: A. B. Mitford, Tales of Old Japan
THE QUAILS, A LEGEND OF THE JATAKA: Riverside Fourth Reader
THE MAGPIE'S NEST: Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales
THE GREEDY GEESE: Il Libro d'Oro
THE KING OF THE BIRDS: The Brothers Grimm, German Household Tales
THE DOVE WHO SPOKE TRUTH: Abbie Farwell Brown, The Curious Book of Birds
THE BUSY BLUE JAY: Olive Thorne Miller, True Bird Stories
BABES IN THE WOODS: John Burroughs, Bird Stories from Burroughs
THE PRIDE OF THE REGIMENT: Harry M. Rieffer, The Recollections of a
THE MOTHER MURRE: Dallas Lore Sharp, Summer
REFERENCE LISTS FOR STORY-TELLING AND COLLATERAL READING
GOOD STORIES FOR GREAT HOLIDAYS
THE FAIRY'S NEW YEAR GIFT
BY EMILIE POULSSON (ADAPTED)
Two little boys were at play one day when a Fairy suddenly appeared
before them and said: "I have been sent to give you New Year presents."
She handed to each child a package, and in an instant was gone.
Carl and Philip opened the packages and found in them two beautiful
books, with pages as pure and white as the snow when it first falls.
Many months passed and the Fairy came again to the boys. "I have brought
you each another book?" said she, "and will take the first ones back to
Father Time who sent them to you."
"May I not keep mine a little longer?" asked Philip. "I have hardly
thought about it lately. I'd like to paint something on the last leaf
that lies open."
"No," said the Fairy; "I must take it just as it is."
"I wish that I could look through mine just once," said Carl; "I have
only seen one page at a time, for when the leaf turns over it sticks
fast, and I can never open the book at more than one place each day."
"You shall look at your book," said the Fairy, "and Philip, at his." And
she lit for them two little silver lamps, by the light of which they saw
the pages as she turned them.
The boys looked in wonder. Could it be that these were the same fair
books she had given them a year ago? Where were the clean, white pages,
as pure and beautiful as the snow when it first falls? Here was a page
with ugly, black spots and scratches upon it; while the very next page
showed a lovely little picture. Some pages were decorated with gold and
silver and gorgeous colors, others with beautiful flowers, and still
others with a rainbow of softest, most delicate brightness. Yet even on
the most beautiful of the pages there were ugly blots and scratches.
Carl and Philip looked up at the Fairy at last.
"Who did this?" they asked. "Every page was white and fair as we opened
to it; yet now there is not a single blank place in the whole book!"
"Shall I explain some of the pictures to you?" said the Fairy, smiling
at the two little boys.
"See, Philip, the spray of roses blossomed on this page when you let
the baby have your playthings; and this pretty bird, that looks as if it
were singing with all its might, would never have been on this page
if you had not tried to be kind and pleasant the other day, instead of
"But what makes this blot?" asked Philip.
"That," said the Fairy sadly; "that came when you told an untruth one
day, and this when you did not mind mamma. All these blots and scratches
that look so ugly, both in your book and in Carl's, were made when you
were naughty. Each pretty thing in your books came on its page when you
"Oh, if we could only have the books again!" said Carl and Philip.
"That cannot be," said the Fairy. "See! they are dated for this year,
and they must now go back into Father Time's bookcase, but I have
brought you each a new one. Perhaps you can make these more beautiful
than the others."
So saying, she vanished, and the boys were left alone, but each held in
his hand a new book open at the first page.
And on the back of this book was written in letters of gold, "For the
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL
BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (TRANSLATED)
It was very, very cold; it snowed and it grew dark; it was the last
evening of the year, New Year's Eve. In the cold and dark a poor little
girl, with bare head and bare feet, was walking through the streets.
When she left her own house she certainly had had slippers on; but what
could they do? They were very big slippers, and her mother had used them
till then, so big were they. The little maid lost them as she slipped
across the road, where two carriages were rattling by terribly fast. One
slipper was not to be found again, and a boy ran away with the other. He
said he could use it for a cradle when he had children of his own.
So now the little girl went with her little naked feet, which were quite
red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of
matches, and a bundle of them in her hand. No one had bought anything
of her all day; no one had given her a copper. Hungry and cold she went,
and drew herself together, poor little thing! The snowflakes fell on her
long yellow hair, which curled prettily over her neck; but she did not
think of that now. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was
a glorious smell of roast goose out there in the street; it was no doubt
New Year's Eve. Yes, she thought of that!
In a corner formed by two houses, one of which was a little farther from
the street than the other, she sat down and crept close. She had drawn
up her little feet, but she was still colder, and she did not dare to
go home, for she had sold no matches, and she had not a single cent; her
father would beat her; and besides, it was cold at home, for they had
nothing over the them but a roof through which the wind whistled, though
straw and rags stopped the largest holes.
Her small hands were quite numb with the cold. Ah! a little match might
do her good if she only dared draw one from the bundle, and strike
it against the wall, and warm her fingers at it. She drew one out.
R-r-atch! how it spluttered and burned! It was a warm bright flame, like
a little candle, when she held her hands over it; it was a wonderful
little light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she sat before a
great polished stove, with bright brass feet and a brass cover. The
fire burned so nicely; it warmed her so well, - the little girl was just
putting out her feet to warm these, too, - when out went the flame; the
stove was gone; - she sat with only the end of the burned match in her
She struck another; it burned; it gave a light; and where it shone on
the wall, the wall became thin like a veil, and she could see through it
into the room where a table stood, spread with a white cloth, and with
china on it; and the roast goose smoked gloriously, stuffed with apples
and dried plums. And what was still more splendid to behold, the goose
hopped down from the dish, and waddled along the floor, with a knife and
fork in its breast; straight to the little girl he came. Then the match
went out, and only the thick, damp, cold wall was before her.
She lighted another. Then she was sitting under a beautiful Christmas
tree; it was greater and finer than the one she had seen through the
glass door at the rich merchant's. Thousands of candles burned upon
the green branches, and colored pictures like those in the shop windows
looked down upon them. The little girl stretched forth both hands toward
them; then the match went out. The Christmas lights went higher and
higher. She saw that now they were stars in the sky: one of them fell
and made a long line of fire.
"Now some one is dying," said the little girl, for her old grandmother,
the only person who had been good to her, but who was now dead, had
said: "When a star falls a soul mounts up to God."
She rubbed another match against the wall; it became bright again, and
in the light there stood the old grandmother clear and shining, mild and
"Grandmother!" cried the child. "Oh, take me with you! I know you will
go when the match is burned out. You will go away like the warm stove,
the nice roast goose, and the great glorious Christmas tree!"
And she hastily rubbed the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to
hold her grandmother fast. And the matches burned with such a glow that
it became brighter than in the middle of the day; grandmother had never
been so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl up in her arms,
and both flew in the light and the joy so high, so high! and up there
was no cold, nor hunger, nor care - they were with God.
But in the corner by the house sat the little girl, with red cheeks and
smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the Old Year.
The New Year's sun rose upon the little body, that sat there with the
matches, of which one bundle was burned. She wanted to warm herself,
the people said. No one knew what fine things she had seen, and in what
glory she had gone in with her grandmother to the New Year's Day.
THE TWELVE MONTHS
A SLAV LEGEND
BY ALEXANDER CHODZKO (ADAPTED)
There was once a widow who had two daughters, Helen, her own child by
her dead husband, and Marouckla, his daughter by his first wife. She
loved Helen, but hated the poor orphan because she was far prettier than
her own daughter.
Marouckla did not think about her good looks, and could not understand
why her stepmother should be angry at the sight of her. The hardest work
fell to her share. She cleaned out the rooms, cooked, washed, sewed,
spun, wove, brought in the hay, milked the cow, and all this without any
Helen, meanwhile, did nothing but dress herself in her best clothes and
go to one amusement after another.
But Marouckla never complained. She bore the scoldings and bad temper of
mother and sister with a smile on her lips, and the patience of a lamb.
But this angelic behavior did not soften them. They became even more
tyrannical and grumpy, for Marouckla grew daily more beautiful, while
Helen's ugliness increased. So the stepmother determined to get rid of
Marouckla, for she knew that while she remained, her own daughter would
have no suitors. Hunger, every kind of privation, abuse, every means was
used to make the girl's life miserable. But in spite of it all Marouckla
grew ever sweeter and more charming.
One day in the middle of winter Helen wanted some wood-violets.
"Listen," cried she to Marouckla, "you must go up the mountain and
find me violets. I want some to put in my gown. They must be fresh and
sweet-scented-do you hear?"
"But, my dear sister, whoever heard of violets blooming in the snow?"
said the poor orphan.
"You wretched creature! Do you dare to disobey me?" said Helen. "Not
another word. Off with you! If you do not bring me some violets from the
mountain forest I will kill you."
The stepmother also added her threats to those of Helen, and with
vigorous blows they pushed Marouckla outside and shut the door upon her.
The weeping girl made her way to the mountain. The snow lay deep, and
there was no trace of any human being. Long she wandered hither and
thither, and lost herself in the wood. She was hungry, and shivered with
cold, and prayed to die.
Suddenly she saw a light in the distance, and climbed toward it till she
reached the top of the mountain. Upon the highest peak burned a large
fire, surrounded by twelve blocks of stone on which sat twelve strange
beings. Of these the first three had white hair, three were not quite so
old, three were young and handsome, and the rest still younger.
There they all sat silently looking at the fire. They were the Twelve
Months of the Year. The great January was placed higher than the others.
His hair and mustache were white as snow, and in his hand he held a
wand. At first Marouckla was afraid, but after a while her courage
returned, and drawing near, she said: -
"Men of God, may I warm myself at your fire? I am chilled by the winter
The great January raised his head and answered: "What brings thee here,
my daughter? What dost thou seek?"
"I am looking for violets," replied the maiden.
"This is not the season for violets. Dost thou not see the snow
everywhere?" said January.
"I know well, but my sister Helen and my stepmother have ordered me to
bring them violets from your mountain. If I return without them they
will kill me. I pray you, good shepherds, tell me where they may be
Here the great January arose and went over to the youngest of the
Months, and, placing his wand in his hand, said: -
"Brother March, do thou take the highest place."
March obeyed, at the same time waving his wand over the fire.
Immediately the flames rose toward the sky, the snow began to melt and