Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree.

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (Robert Barry) was first published in 1963, but I became aware of it just a few years ago.

The first year I read it to my Kinder kids, I knew they’d enjoy the story, but I didn’t realize how eye-opening and empowering they’d find it to be. As a result, it’s one of the first holiday stories I read once we return from our Thanksgiving break.

We know that most picture books relay a problem that needs solving. The problem in Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree is that it’s too tall for his parlor. Once we identify the problem together during our read-aloud, I ask the kids how the problem can be solved. As five year olds, they think Mr. Willowby should simply return the tree to the store!

The solution in the story is always accompanied by a complete, smile-filled surprise. And while the same problem occurs over and over, the solution simply remains the same.

This heart-warming story is a great lesson in …

  • Compassion
  • Spreading joy
  • Equity vs equality (getting what is needed vs getting the same amount)
  • Resourcefulness
  • Conservation
  • Recycling
  • Rhyming

I say this story is eye-opening and empowering for my kids. And, it is. I see and hear it every year in January and February when we study inventors and inventions — and throughout the remainder of our school year together, they reference the story.

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree. A picture book that keeps on giving.