The magic of Christmas can be magnified by combining it with the magic of a good book. And there are plenty to choose from. We asked the Kidadl Facebook group to nominate their best Christmas kids books. The responses are given below, along with some bonus Christmas classics. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, then we have an even longer list of options here.
You can’t really go wrong with the Little Miss and Mr Men. The colourful characters have been putting smiles on young faces for almost half a century. New volumes continue to be written, including a bevy of Christmas tales that have become part of the festive season in my house. There’s even a Mr Man called Mr Christmas! You can buy titles individually, or in a 10-volume box set.
Some of the best kids books go beyond simple reading and listening to offer an interactive element. Kidadler Cora recommends The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. At its heart is the story of a jolly postman delivering letters to fairytale characters, but along the way you’ll encounter pull-out games, puzzles, envelopes and activities. From experience of using the similar (though not Christmassy) Peppa’s Post, I’d recommend not letting toddlers loose on it!
Kidadlr Zoe recommends How Winston Delivered Christmas, by Alex T Smith. It's part-story, part Advent calendar, with "24 and a half" chapters, packed with fun and activities. Reviewers say this "sumptuous" book could be used year after year, as a family tradition.
Some of the finest Christmas books come from America. Perhaps the best-loved is Dr Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, nominated by Kidadlr Hayley as one of her favourites. Written, like most of Dr S’s books, in rhyme, it tells the tale of a miserable creature who sets out to spoil the fun of Christmas by stealing everyone’s presents. He soon finds, though, that the festive season is about more than unwrapping gifts. The Polar Express is another cherished classic, beloved by both children and adults. Chris Van Allsburg’s beautifully illustrated story is a gentle tale of a yuletide trip to the North Pole aboard the titular train. Like the Grinch, it has been adapted into a major film. We’ve got the 35th anniversary edition, which comes with a little conductor’s badge.
Another great American contribution to the Christmas canon is the poem Twas The Night Before Christmas (more properly called A Visit From St Nicholas) by 19th century writer Clement Clarke Moore. Kidadlr Hoda points us towards a beautiful pop-up version from Ubsborne. The classic poem plays out across the pages with pop-out Santa, reindeer and winter scenes. A truly magical Christmas book.
Something for Numeracy
You’ve probably encountered Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty’s “10 Little…” books, such as 10 Little Pirates and 10 Little Princesses. The series includes a Christmas installment called 10 Little Elves, recommended by Kidadlr Julia. I’ve not personally read this one, but based on other volumes, I’m guessing that the plot revolves around a group of 10 elves who get swept away by different perils, one by one, only to be reunited at the end. A winning formula.
Something for Preschoolers
Tried Dear Santa? It’s by Rod Campbell whose most famous book is the wildly successful Dear Zoo. This lift-the-flap book is perfect for toddlers, and an excellent way to prepare them for the big day. If they enjoy this, you could take them to see the Dear Santa stage show.
Everyone’s familiar with the short film of The Snowman, and the soaring melody of We’re Walking in the Air. The original book by Raymond Briggs is also rather magical. It contains no words, so is perfect for the youngest audience. Briggs always denies that it is a Christmas book, but I think thousands of households would beg to differ. His equally charming Father Christmas book, most definitely is festive.
Kidadlr Kayleigh recommends Bear Stays up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson, while Nazli reckons Is It Christmas Yet by Jane Chapman is a winner. Other tips include the well-known Mog's Christmas and Spot's First Christmas.
I won’t accept any argument. There is no finer festive story than A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The heart-melting tale of a miserable miser transformed by the spirits of Christmas is close to perfection. At almost 180 years old, though, some of the language can be a challenge for younger readers. Fortunately, the book’s long out of copyright, so various child-friendly versions are available. Or you could forget about the book and settle down in front of the Muppet Christmas Carol, which captures the heart and soul of the original novella better than any other adaptation, while also squeezing in singing vegetables and Michael Caine.
More ideas for Christmas books can be found here.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.