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Day Two-Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from the book 12 Days of Christmas, Ideas for a Family Christ

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is the second picture book in The 12 Days of Christmas Family. The Read A Loud program is designed to guide you through 12 days of fun filled exciting family reading & bonding time. Watch for my blogs about twice a month for the next 6 months. 12 Days of Christmas Ideas for a Family Christmas Read Aloud, will be published in time for 2019 Christmas.

I vividly remember the excitement my family and I felt during Christmas when it was time to watch Rudolph on Television. The TV show Rudolph only aired once each Christmas Season, so we would hurry and eat dinner and be ready when the show started. My brother bought me one of the 1946 stuffed Rudolphs when he returned from the war. That Christmas I was 12 years old. I was ecstatic. Today, I certainly wish I still had it.

Everyone (or almost everyone) knows the story and song Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. But do you know the behind the scenes story about the writing of Rudolph and what made it so popular.


written by Robert L. May

There are many different versions of this book. I have an authentic reproduction of the original edition. The following is quoted from the back of this reproduction. “It all began one January day in 1939…”

Montgomery Ward & Co wanted to give away a special book to children during Christmas season. Robert L. May a young copywriter was asked by his boss to come up with some ideas.

He began working on a story about a reindeer who was not like the others. At first his boss rejected the idea. But May persevered. He worked on the story for months and finally finished it in late August. Montgomery Ward printed it and handed out almost 2,500,000 that Christmas and children were immediately enchanted by Rudolph and his brilliant …nose.

World War II come, and Rudolph went into hibernation. In 1946 the company again published the book, this time distributing 3,500,000 copies. Rudolph’s popularity was soaring.

May was approached by publishers and songwriters, all wanting a chance to be a part of this phenomenon. But the copyright was owned by Montgomery Ward and May was unable to sell what he did not own. In 1946, in an act of great generosity, Sewel Avery, the chairman of Montgomery Ward, gave the copyright to Bob May. The rest they say is history.

Additional notes from the back of the authentic reproduction of the original edition.

In 1947, a small children’s book publisher brought out a Rudolph edition that sold 100,000 copies in two years.

  • In 1949, May’s friend, Johnny Marks wrote a 113-word song summarizing the Rudolph story.

  • Gene Autry’s recording of the song climbed to #1 on the Hit parade and sold 2,000,000 copies during its first Christmas season.

  • Over 500 licensed Rudolph products appeared—everything from stuffed Toys to bracelet charms, cuckoo clocks, and cookie cutters.

  • A film version of the story first aired in 1964 and has been broadcast on a major TV network almost every year since.

  • The story and song have been translated into over 25 different languages, proving Rudolph appeals to people all around the world.

Suggested activities following the reading of the book.

  1. Click on the link to the Writing 'Rudolph': The Original Red-Nosed Manuscript the original. What is the difference in the way this written and illustrated from what we would ladle today? Do you know how books are published today?

  2. Compare the different types of illustrations and stories in the versions.

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