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December’s Stories and Poems

Written by Lily Kehoe, 5th December 2022

Winter has set in, and to help us feel warm in spirit we’ve selected some seasonal choices for December’s Monthly Stories and Poems selection. Usually there are five stories or extracts, alongside five poems – as a special, early treat ahead of the holiday season we’ve included an extra story and poem to give you even more choice when it comes to reading. You might choose to read them before the year comes to a close, or save something up for the new year that’s ahead, it’s completely up to you.

Alongside other choices, we’re featuring several texts from The Reader Bookshelf: this month, we take a look at moments from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Paradise Lost by John Milton and The Other Side of You by Salley Vickers.

The holiday season features in several of this month’s stories and extracts; for some, it’s a time to remember happy memories and an attempt to rekindle them to enjoy once more, while for others it’s more difficult, bringing up raw and painful emotions. At this time of year it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the big things and expectations – what about those smaller, unexpected moments that can come along, which may take us by surprise? Of course, it’s also a time to think about family and friends, and those important relationships feature too; both relationships of the present, and ones from the past which give room for reflection.

December’s stories and extracts are:

‘Christmas Day in the Morning’ by Pearl S. Buck

‘Marriage Trouble‘ (from Julius Caesar) by William Shakespeare

‘Powder’ by Tobias Wolff

‘The faltering spirit’ (extract from The Other Side of You) by Salley Vickers

‘A Winter’s Tale’ by John Burnside

‘Fusilli’ by Graham Swift

This time of year sees people of all different ages and backgrounds getting together, and December’s poems highlight what it is that is so unique about the festive season, as well as reflecting on moments of unity amongst mankind in a wider sense. Some extra magic comes in through the presence and immensity of the stars and snowfall, which is more uncommon to certain communities than for others. Ahead of the new year, we’re reminded of beginnings – the very first beginning of the creation of the earth – and also to bear in mind that ‘perfect’ looks different to each of us, something worth remembering as expectations build.

‘Christmas Life’ by Wendy Cope

‘We Are of a Tribe’ by Alberto Ríos

‘The Earth was formed’ (extract from Paradise Lost) by John Milton

‘Snow in the Suburbs’ by Thomas Hardy

‘How to paint a perfect Christmas’ by Miroslav Holub (translated by George Theiner)

‘Telescope’ by Louise Glück

Special thanks this month go to Kerstin and Andrew for sharing their recommendations – it’s so good to hear about stories, extracts and poems that have worked well in Shared Reading groups.

If you're a Reader Leader head to the Online Community Hub to download this month's selection.

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