Charlie Brown Christmas celebrates 50 years


I first wrote about the Charlie Brown Christmas app a couple of years ago. Since that time, I have gone through it every Christmas with my nephews, and they can’t get enough of it. It is the perfect combination of the film and the book, with animation, the characters we love, and that music that always puts people in the festive spirit. 

They ran a special on the ABC network on Nov. 30 to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the beloved cartoon and tale, hosted by Kristen Bell with performances by Kristen Chenoweth, Sarah McLachlan, Boyz II Men, Pentatonix, David Benoit, The All-American Boys Chorus and Matthew Morrison. It seems that no matter what age you are, you can appreciate Charlie Brown and that little Christmas tree. 

Interestingly enough, CBS was the network to originally run the cartoon in 1965, and it was a reluctant airing. Executives weren’t keen on a number of aspects of the story, including the anti-commercialism message and the fact that there were no adult voices to be heard. 

Of course, it ended up being a huge hit, leading networks to air many other adventures of the Peanuts gang in the years to come. 

First impressions  

Am I allowed to mention (or should I admit to) a nostalgic tear running down my cheek as I started the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” app? 

The animated cartoon special first aired on CBS in 1965, and it has religiously appeared on television every year since, winning an Emmy and Peabody Award along the way. The app is an interactive way of enjoying this wonderful story, and I fell upon it like a kid in a candy store when I first saw it available in iTunes. There were all the characters I loved like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Sally, Schroeder and even the infuriating Lucy. 

As I paged my way through the book, narrated by the man who was the original voice of Charlie Brown, I was immediately thrust back to my childhood. I couldn’t wait to share it with others. 

How it works  

Much like the “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” app, this also combines the elements of reading a book with animation, all set to the wonderful background music that is so familiar to anyone who has seen the cartoon. The opening screen features a record player with a switch that allows you to turn the narration on or off, and a volume switch for the music. Sitting next to it is the book by Charles M. Schulz. 

Once you touch the front cover of the book, you’re into the introduction page, and after that, the beginning of the story. 

On the first page, Peanuts characters are standing on a frozen lake and as the narrator reads the story, you can move each one of them and make them skate simply by touching them. You can also touch the falling snow to turn the small pieces into large snowflakes. 

This is the way the rest of the book continues. You can move characters, turn lights on and off, create motion and generally bring everything to life just by touching it. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy this story with a child. In fact, it’s such a terrific way to spend time with your kids that you may find yourself reading it every night because wee Johnny wants to “hear it again, again!” 

As you go along you can help Snoopy decorate his doghouse, play a bit of piano, and even make your very own shooting stars when Charlie Brown stands outside clutching his little tree. You can make the story last as long as you like, and go back if you want to revisit one of the pages. It’s a very easy app to use. Basically if you know how to turn the pages in a book, you can work this out. 

When I used it  

I sat down and went through it once on my own to make sure I knew what I was doing, and then I went to seek out others to show. Without fail, young and old were absolutely enchanted with this app. For adults it was a great way of enjoying the cartoon they knew so well, and they simply melted when they heard the piano begin and the choir singing “Christmas time is here.” For children, they were immediately enchanted by the cartoon and story, and LOVED being able to be part of it by touching the screen. Although one of them was visibly unimpressed by Charlie Brown’s choice of Christmas tree, I was able to gently explain why he had chosen it, and they seemed pretty satisfied by the end result. 

Every time I went through it, I realized I had missed an element the last time, like creating the shooting stars on one of the pages. By the time I had finished there, I’d made enough wishes to last me a lifetime. 

I also loved hearing Linus’ speech about the true meaning of Christmas. A lot of the original dialogue from the cartoon is used in the app between the narration pieces, so I was able to hear all the characters’ voices as I remembered them. 

Final thoughts  

This app is an absolute no-brainer for the Christmas season. You can read it to your children, or leave them to read it and play with it themselves. That being said, you can also just keep it for yourself and play it whenever you’re feeling tired or low. The Charlie Brown Christmas story is absolutely timeless, and despite the fact that the cartoon is now nearly 50 years old, it is as wonderful and relevant today as it was back then. This app is great value for money and is highly recommended. 


  • Great animation.  
  • Interaction options will appeal to all ages. 
  • It’s Charlie Brown, what’s not to like? 


  • Good luck getting your device back once a child realises this app is on there. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas 

Cost: $4.99
  • Seller: Loud Crow Interactive Inc. 
Devices: iOS and Android
  • Rating: E for Everyone 

When will that poor boy ever learn …