Here’s a selection of our favourite books for Christmas and the festive season.
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A Boy Called Christmas Matt Haig
A magical story which imagines Father Christmas as a boy called Nikolas, and describes how he came to have the job of delivering gifts to children everywhere equipped with sleigh and reindeer late each Christmas Eve. Full of excitement and some sad and scary moments, this gripping tale has humour and warmth. There is a cast of highly memorable characters; including Nikolas’s archetypally evil Aunt Carlotta, elvish despot Father Vodol, a dangerously mischievous Truth Pixie and a reindeer called Blitzen. Nikolas knows he wants to do ‘good’ and believes nothing is impossible. It takes him many decades to find his purpose in life; to spread goodwill and bring joy to children everywhere. A perfect festive season book to share.
The Christmas Eve Tree Delia Huddy, Emily Sutton (illus)
A little fir tree, is cut down and taken to the city to be sold. But no one wants this small, lopsided spindly tree until, just as the shops are closing on Christmas Eve, a small boy asks the shop keeper if he can have it. The little fir tree has an unexpectedly joyful Christmas with an unlikely group of people and afterwards eventually finds a permanent home where he grows strong and sturdy..
This is a delightfully illustrated Christmas story, which explores the idea of the spirit of Christmas; that goodwill, caring and fun is more important than expensive presents.
A Christmas Story Brian Wildsmith
Oxford University Press
The nativity story is told from the perspective of a little donkey and a young girl called Rebecca, charged with his care. The donkey’s mother is carrying Mary to Bethlehem with Joseph. The little donkey is sad to be left alone and so Rebecca, decides they should follow. Eventually they find a bright star over an innkeeper’s stable and they are witness to the events of that night. First written thirty years ago by award-winning artist Brian Wildsmith, this hardback small format version with stunning illustrations will capture children’s interest and imagination, providing lots to talk about.
For another Christmas story by John Burningham see Harvey Slumfenberger’s Christmas Present.
Christmas For Greta and Gracie Yasmeen Ismail
It’s Christmas Eve and Greta and Gracie are busy getting ready, colouring Christmas pictures, decorating the village tree and buying ribbon to wrap presents. Greta is a bit older and takes charge of putting the star on the tree and of conversations about Father Christmas and what he is like. Gracie spends a lot of time listening and doing what she’s told. However, during the night before Christmas it is Gracie who hears funny noises and finds Father Christmas in the sitting room wrapping presents. She is able to help him, and ask him lots of questions. In the morning, for once, Greta is lost for words when she finds out that Gracie has actually met Father Christmas and so really knows what he’s like.
An appealing and amusing story about being a younger sister with a seasonally magical ending.
How to Hide a Lion at Christmas
Alison Green Books
This is a delightful seasonal story continuing Iris and her friend the lion’s adventures. Iris and her family set off to stay with her Auntie for Christmas. She wants to take the lion with her but her parents say no and her attempts at hiding him as a present or decoration are unsuccessful. The lion knows Iris is sad and so secretly follows her but after falling asleep on the train loses sight of her. He doesn’t give up though and after trudging through the snow eventually finds Iris’s auntie’s house soon spotting a strange man in a red coat climbing down the chimney! Has the lion found the perfect way to get inside the house? Copying Father Christmas does not go totally according to plan but eventually Iris and her lion are reunited and they are able to spend Christmas together.
See our activity ideas for the first in the series How to Hide a Lion
How Winston Delivered Christmas
An advent story in twenty four and a half chapters
Alex T Smith
This is a wonderful book which would be a delight to share as a family in the build up to Christmas. The whole book is designed on the principle of an advent calendar with a chapter to be read a day. It tells the story of Winston, a mouse who finds a letter for Father Christmas lost by a little boy called Oliver and has many adventures trying to deliver it. As well as the appealing and wonderfully illustrated story there is a festive activity for each day; from making your own wrapping paper to baking gingerbread mice. There is a clear reminder that Christmas isn’t just about receiving presents, being kind and thoughtful as Winston demonstrates is very important too. The back of the book contains several well-known Christmas songs, the story of the Night before Christmas and even tips for getting ready for Christmas the following year.
The book’s creator, Alex. T.Smith demonstrates how to write a letter to Santa, the first activity in the book here
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dr Seuss
The only one in Whoville who doesn’t celebrate Christmas is the Grinch. He can’t bear everyone else having fun, so on Christmas Eve he dresses as Santa and sets out to steal Christmas. In this classic tale the grumpy, mean Grinch learns what Christmas is really about. Classic fun from Dr Seuss!
The Jolly Christmas Postman Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This is a very special book which is perfect for sharing at Christmas time. It is a sequel to The Jolly Postman who delivers letters to familiar characters from fairy tales. It is helpful if children already know this story before reading The Jolly Christmas Postman but not essential.
In this book the jolly postman does his rounds on a snowy Christmas Eve. Time has moved on and Goldilocks and baby bear both have a new baby in the family. The postman’s round eventually takes him to Father Christmas’ workshop and an exciting trip on his sledge with lots of special deliveries to make. This book is very ‘hands on’ with interesting Christmas mail and presents to take out of the envelopes and share.
Mog’s Christmas Judith Kerr
In Mog’s Christmas Mog is thrown into confusion by the unfamiliar smells and disturbances of Christmas preparations. So much so that escaping to the roof, unintentionally she creates further disturbances with dramatic effect.
For another story about Mog at Christmas time see Mog’s Christmas Calamity.
The Night BeforeChristmas Clement C Moore (Author), Angela Barrett (Illus)
This classic, festive poem is enchantingly illustrated by Angela Barrett, a Kate Greenaway Medallist, who perfectly expresses the magical atmosphere of the verse. There are many versions and including that illustrated by Eric Puybaret.
Refuge Anne Booth, Sam Usher (illus)
Topically relevant, this version of the Nativity continues the story as Mary, Joseph and their new baby leave Bethlehem as refugees and seek sanctuary in Egypt. The story is simply told from the donkey’s perspective. Beautifully illustrated with subtle use of colour.
Nosy Crow are giving proceeds of the sale of the book go to the charity War Child to help care for Syrian refugee children and their families and other children displaced, orphaned and suffering as a result of war too.
The Snowman Raymond Briggs
A magical wordless picturebook which tells the story of a young boy who wakes to find it is snowing. After working hard all day to make a wonderful snowman when he gets ready for bed he can think of little else. During the night a magical adventure unfolds as the boy finds the snowman has come to life. He welcomes the snowman into the house and they have great fun dressing up, playing and having a midnight feast taking care the snowman doesn’t get too warm and melt. Then the snowman takes the boy on an amazing night time flight over land and sea. The film animation and book of the film include a magical trip to a land with many more snowmen where they meet – Father Christmas! They have the most wonderful party together but after seeing Father Christmas’s workshop and meeting his reindeer it is time to fly home. When the boy returns to his bed he hopes to see the snowman again in the morning, but sadly it has melted.
This is a book to talk about together as you read the beautiful sequence of illustrations. Was it all a dream? Speculate about this together as well as thinking what children would like to do if they built a snowman that came to life.