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Our top 12 Christmas books

Here’s a selection of our favourite books for Christmas and the festive season.snowman 5
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aflies-christmasAlfie’s Christmas Shirley Hughes
Bodley Head
Age 3-7

A nostalgic account of a traditional family Christmas from Shirley Hughes which fans of Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose will enjoy. We see the family get ready, including writing letters to Father Christmas, festive cooking and present wrapping. Dad’s in charge of the cooking on Christmas day and this is a happy occasion though not without familiar minor problems (no battery for a new toy) and a little over excitement from a very tired Annie Rose.

See our activity ideas for Alfie’s Gets in First

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a-boy-called-christmasA Boy Called Christmas Matt Haig
Age 7+

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.

Watch a trailer
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the-christmas-eve-treeThe Christmas Eve Tree Delia Huddy, Emily Sutton (illus)
Walker Books
Age 5-7+

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.

See our ideas for sharing The Christmas Eve Tree.
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christmas storyA Christmas Story Brian Wildsmith
Oxford University Press
Age 3-5

A traditional nativity story which begins with the birth in a stable of a donkey. Told from the perspective of a little girl travelling to Nazareth on a donkey, it brings children immediately into the world of the book and the events in the story. With stunning illustrations by award-winning artist, Brian Wildsmith, this version captures children’s interest and imagination, providing lots to talk about.

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For another Christmas story by John Burningham see Harvey Slumfenberger’s Christmas Present.

greata-and-graceyChristmas For Greta and Gracie Yasmeen Ismail
Nosy Crow
Age 3-5 

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.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dr Seuss
Random House
Age 3-7

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!

Watch an animation of the story
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jolly christmas postmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman  Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Age 3-7

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.

Click here for our ideas on sharing this story
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mogs christmasMog’s Christmas Judith Kerr
Harper Collins
Age 3-7

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.

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For another story about Mog at Christmas time see Mog’s Christmas Calamity.

night-begoreThe Night BeforeChristmas Clement C Moore (Author), Angela Barrett (Illus)
Orchard Books
Age 5-7

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.

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Refuge Anne Booth, Sam Usher (illus)
Nosy Crow
Age 5-7

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.

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The Snowman   Raymond Briggs
Age 3-7

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.

Watch a complete animation of the story here:

Find out more 

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The Twelve days of Christmas

Morris and Liz Catchpole
Puffin Books

A beautiful book for the whole family at Christmas time. The traditional rhyme of the Twelve days of Christmas is illustrated with William Morris Prints together with drawings from Liz Catchpole. Adults will enjoy the design and younger children can join in with counting the gifts on each page and saying (or singing) the rhyme.

See animation of the song
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