Still On the Shelf: The Night Before Christmas

Here’s another of my Still on the Shelf series, where I tell you, book by blessed book, why I periodically run a dust rag across them, pull them off the shelf, and open them up to read.

A lifetime of reading has left me with a sizable number of books. Throughout the years I have donated them for tax deductions and traded them for credit by the carload. But for all the trimming and weeding my collection has undergone these past decades, the ones remaining on the shelves are there for a reason: they’ve withstood the tests of time. Although I’m more inclined to pick up my Kindle these days, there are still plenty of books on my shelves, and The Night Before Christmas is one of them, especially this time of year.

The Night Before Christmas Or a Visit of St. Nicholas: an Antique ReproductionXmas 1
by Clement Clarke Moore (author), William Roger Snow (illustrator), Russell Barber (introduction)
Publisher: Philomel Books
ISBN 0-399-21614-6
Copyright: 1989
24 pages

Do we really need another published version of this poem? How many illustrated versions of the book have been created since it was first published anonymously on December 23, 1823? (which, by a lucky coincidence, is 192 years to the date this blog is being published). How many versions? Not enough. There’s always room for more. I personally own just a few, but this one is my favorite.

Moore wrote A Visit of St. Nicholas for his six children and had no intention to publish it, but it was published anonymously (sent to a newspaper without Moore’s knowledge). The rest is literary history.

This particular version is a reproduction of an antique book published around 1870. There are approximately 17 full-color stone lithographs, with the text of the poem appearing on four pages. While this does make it good for reading aloud, it’s also a treat for us big kids who know the poem by heart and want to look at the pictures without disrupting the flow of words. The charming lithos evoke a simpler, innocent time when magical things happened, when we believed.

Free coloring page image from

Free coloring page image from

I’ve loved this poem ever since I remember there being a Christmas. One year I memorized the poem from a Night Before Christmas coloring book that kept me entertained for hours at a time. This book brings back those enchanted days for me, and I’ll treasure that for many, many years to come.

And just as there are scores of Night Before Christmas books out there, you can find tons of readings on the internet. Here’s one rendition read by Santa Claus himself, followed by John Cleese performing his rendition as only he can envision it.


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