Delight young readers with this crop of new and classic Christmas books for children to read together.

There is nothing like the festive run up to supply cosy moments in which to snuggle down with the children and get lost in the magic of Christmas. Whether or not you have the house decorated to perfection or there are lots of presents under the tree is, at this point, immaterial. The memory of curling up together on the sofa with these transporting festive tales is one that will outlast any toy and, even better, its particular enchantment is destined to be handed down to new generations of wide-eyed children.

We are forever indebted to the classics, from The Night Before Christmas to A Christmas Carol, for our own adoration of Christmas storytelling, but we also have plenty of space for new tales of wonder too. These are just some of our favourites.

The Toys’ Christmas


Genevieve Godbout


This picture book tells the sweet story of Fanfan, a beloved toy elephant who goes missing on Christmas Eve. Little does his devoted owner, Noah, know that Fanfan has actually gone on his annual journey to visit Father Christmas to make sure the jolliest elf knows exactly what presents to deliver down the chimney. Buy it here.


The Christmasaurus


Tom Fletcher, Shane Devries


This is a rhyming reimagining for younger readers of the Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus, the lesser known dinosaur who lives in the North Pole alongside Santa and his elves. This book tells the tale of his greatest wish: to be able to fly like the reindeer. One year, however, in pursuit of his ambition, he falls down a chimney and meets a dino-loving little boy who teaches him how to believe. Magic. Buy it here.


The Christmas Department Store


Maudie Powell-Tuck, Hoang Giang


This heart-warming story focuses on a little boy named Benji, whose Christmas is not exactly set to be festive. With no money to spare, there will be no tree, no presents, no turkey – but when he happens upon The Christmas Department Store, the magic is restored in abundance, thanks to talking polar bears and some truly extraordinary gifts. Buy it here.


The Little Fir Tree


Christopher Corr, H.C Andersen


Christopher Corr’s retelling and illustration of the Han Christian Andersen classic is an enchanting and hopeful story of rebirth. The little fir tree lives deep in the forest and longs to see the world; when it is taken to town for Christmas, it would appear its wish has been granted. But what will happen to it when Christmas is over? Buy it here.


The Christmas Pig


J.K. Rowling, Jim Field


As anyone who loves Harry Potter will attest, JK Rowling knows her craft when it comes to delivering propulsive page-turning stories. This one, which tells the story of when Jack’s beloved childhood toy Dur Pig goes missing and the magical journey to find him, is no different. One to buy and read year after year, and long into adulthood too. Buy it here.


The Night Before Christmas


Clement Clarke-Moore, Christian Birmingham


Many of us can recite this one – or at least parts of it – by heart. Innumerable editions of it abound, but we have always found this one, with its exquisite illustrations by Christian Birmingham, the most enchanting of them all. Read it and then, in unison, cry: ‘Dash away, dash away, dash away all!’ Essential Christmas Eve reading between darting to the window for hopeful glimpses. Buy it here.


A Christmas Carol


Charles Dickens


No advent is complete without revisiting of Dickens’ evocative tale of greed, love and redemption. And no publisher makes books as beautifully as Folio. If ever there was a volume that you’re likely to return to year upon year, it is this one. It is worth, then, buying the best and revelling in Michael Foreman’s glorious illustrations. Buy it here.


Mouse’s Night Before Christmas


Tracey Corderoy, Sarah Massini


Oh how we adore this retelling of the Clement Clarke-Moore standard. Sweet, poignant and moving, it tells the story of a lonely mouse who lives in a grandfather clock and whose only wish is for a friend. When Father Christmas becomes lost in a blizzard, mouse helps him on his way – in turn, will Santa help mouse to find a companion all of his own? Heart-warming. Buy it here.


The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker


Jessica Courtney-Tickle


This is a special treat for young music lovers. The book tells the story of The Nutcracker Ballet – with a difference. On each page, push the buttons and hear the sound of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies, Waltz of the Flowers and more, as you join Clara first at her family’s Christmas party, and then in a world of magic as she, and the Nutcracker, defeat the Mouse King. Buy it here.


The Good Bear


Sarah Lean, Fiona Woodcock


From the bestselling author of A Dog Called Homeless comes this beautiful story for nine year olds and upward. It’s the Christmas holidays and Thea is going to spend them with her father in snowy Norway. But when she arrives, he is distant; he has his new girlfriend’s family to think of. But then, in the woods by her father’s house, Thea makes a discovery: a bear, and he’s scared and hungry. She must keep him out of danger – not least from the people of the town. Buy it here.


The Christmas Pine


Julia Donaldson, Victoria Sandøy


The Poetry Society commissioned this sweet story in 2020, in thanks for Norway’s annual gift of a Christmas tree to stand in Trafalgar Square. As with most of Donaldson’s oeuvre, it is written in rhyme, and tells the story of a little pine tree with a very special destiny. Buy it here.


Father Christmas


Raymond Briggs


Despite Briggs’ customary gruffness should anyone mention his most famous work, The Snowman, there’s no escaping the fact that the illustrator has delivered more than his fair share of magic to children over the decades. In this forty-year-old tale, another of Briggs’ additions to the Christmas canon, we meet a grumpy Santa who has awoken from a dream of summer to discover that it is Christmas Eve and he had much work to do. Buy it here.


Dasher


Matt Tavares


Have you ever wondered how Father Christmas’ reindeers came to be ferrying the main man in red around the world once a year? This book is all about a young doe in a travelling circus named Dasher, who dreams of snow and the North Star. When she meets a nice man dressed in red, her life is changed forever. Buy it here.


Diary of A Christmas Elf


Ben Miller


This brand-new book for children aged eight and upward is warm, magic and mischievous: in other words, the ideal Christmas read. It tells the story of Tog who longs to be a Christmas elf. When his wish is granted, he discovers it is much harder work than it looks. But even his time spent mucking out the reindeer stables is nothing to complain about compared to being accused of stealing presents from the workshop. Buy it here.


The Jolly Christmas Postman


Allan and Janet Ahlberg


This 2014 edition of the classic Christmas tale had a special makeover to mark 30 years since its publication. Now it’s inching closer to 40 years old, but we still love this story of the jolly postman delivering the perfect presents to characters from the fairy tale canon as much as ever. Buy it here.


The Christmas Bear


Ian Whybrow, Axel Scheffler


For really little kids, nothing beats a lift-the-flap book for entertainment. This one, illustrated by the great Axel Scheffler, tells the story of Bear, who is left behind in Santa’s workshop. Will he make it to Tom’s house in time for Christmas morning? Buy it here.


Peter Rabbit Tales: A Christmas Wish


Beatrix Potter


Who can resist Beatrix Potter? And will Peter ever be able to sleep on Christmas Eve night, especially since he’s wished for an extra special present this year? Charm itself. Buy it here.


One Christmas Wish


Katherine Rundell, Emily Sutton


This very special book was nominated for a raft of awards and it’s no stretch to see why. When Theo is left at home with a babysitter on Christmas Eve, he wishes on a star for some friends to play with. But even he doesn’t bargain for the Christmas decorations coming to life to wreak havoc. Glorious. Buy it here.

By Nancy Alsop
November 2021

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