Christmas is one of those wonderful seasons that has it’s own set of books – beautiful stories that capture the spirit of Christmastime with familiar faces and snowy settings. Many families create a Christmas book basket, adding to it with each returning year as they find new favourites. This is such a lovely idea and very simple to implement. It ticks a number of boxes – keeping things in one handy location to bring out each year (good for feeling organised!), making it part of your traditions in the run up to Christmas (why not pop the basket under the tree), creating the excitement of new bedtime stories and the chance to rediscover old friends!
Whether you are starting your basket from scratch or just wanting to find new stories, it can often be overwhelming to choose which books to add to your collection. There are so many new titles to pick from each year, all waving and smiling and vying for your attention, not to mention all the classics which we already know and love. There is the temptation to get them all, but that way book madness lies! You want amazing books but you also don’t want an overflowing basket – sometimes less is more, and the stories can be appreciated as treasured favourites, rather than just one in a sea of many. And of course it will be kinder to your bank balance!
With that in mind, I thought I would choose my top ten favourite books – both classics and new – that would be my essential picks for creating a wonderful Christmas library!
The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of this cherished book. For many, it wouldn’t be Christmas without The Snowman flying through the air! This beautiful story of a young boy and the magic of one winter’s night has been retold on stage and screen, and the song ‘Walking in the Air’ is instantly recognisable. Let us go back to the original story created by Raymond Briggs – the wonder of this book is that it is entirely narrated through pictures and magically captures an unforgettable adventure, proving (if proof was needed) the skill of this much respected author and illustrator.
Find It Here >> The Snowman
The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…Christmas Eve wouldn’t be complete without this as a bedtime story. Perfect for evoking the magic and anticipation of Christmas Day, this poem gives us some of the now iconic images of Father Christmas that have been passed down for generations. Did you know that Clement C. Moore wrote this poem for his children – it was first seen in print in 1823, and titled A Visit from St. Nicholas. Carry on the tradition and add it to your collection!
Find It Here >> The Night Before Christmas
Mog’s Christmas – Judith Kerr
Who could forgot our favourite feline Mog during the holidays! It’s such a clever story, with children able to watch the Christmas preparations of the Thomas family through the eyes of the lovable Mog. It is a wonderful way to introduce young children to some the things they can look forward to, decorating the house and bringing home the tree. It would equally be a fab story for showing how some families celebrate Christmas, and how that might differ to your own family’s traditions.
Find It Here >> Mog’s Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – Dr. Seuss
“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss was such a magical writer, who used hilarious rhymes, eye-catching illustrations and heart-warming messages to create his much-loved stories. The small-hearted Grinch is perhaps his most famous character, and just begs to be read aloud to your little Whos! There are a few modern cinematic retellings now, but it is always rewarding to go back to the original Seuss rhymes. The story teaches the values of love and community, and the joys of Christmas.
Find It Here >> How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dear Santa – Rod Campbell
This book is a little different from those chosen so far, but equally worthy of a spot in your book basket. This is a great first Christmas book for toddlers – with lift-the-flap pages and a touch-and-feel surprise, it is formatted as a board book and so perfectly sized (and durable!) for little hands. It is fantastic for engaging young minds to guess what might be underneath each flap and, once learned, it is just as fun to shout out the answer before it is revealed!
Find It Here >> Dear Santa
How Winston Delivered Christmas – Alex T. Smith
Although this book was only published this year, it is such a beauty that it had to make my list! I guess I am a little biased as Alex is already one of my favourite children’s authors for his wonderful Claude series, but he really is delightful storyteller. This book is a fantastic way to build reading into your daily rhythm – each chapter is for a new day, making the book a story advent! With the added bonus of Christmas themed activities to do, it would make a wonderful part of your traditions as you follow the adventures of a little mouse named Winston.
Find It Here >> How Winston Delivered Christmas
The Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Travel with the Jolly Postman to deliver his letters on Christmas Eve with this magical, interactive story. It is such a unique read as the book includes different envelopes and letters, and even a jigsaw, that all need to be delivered! With recognisable fairy-tale characters such as Humpty Dumpty and the Gingerbread Man, children will love identifying them and guessing who the Postman might visit next!
Find It Here >> The Jolly Christmas Postman
Father Christmas Needs A Wee! – Nicholas Allan
Every Christmas book collection needs a mixture of heartfelt classics and funny modern choices, and I can’t think of anything better than this cheeky read from Nicholas Allan! Father Christmas drinks and eats all the goodies left out for him. Before long he really, really, really needs a wee. Perfect for a giggly story-time!
Find It Here >> Father Christmas Needs A Wee!
Ollie’s Christmas Reindeer – Nicola Killen
This is the charming story of reindeer obsessed Ollie whose wish comes true when she hears a jingling sound and finds a lost reindeer in the snow. The artwork is gorgeous and very different to most Christmas books – Killen uses a black and white palette, with hints of red to give the story such a peaceful, magical feeling. I love Ollie’s curious nature and adventurous spirit, and know this will be a Christmas classic for many readers.
Find It Here >> Ollie’s Christmas Reindeer
Christmas in Exeter Street – Diana Hendry
I chose this book over the myriad of other deserving titles as I believe it needs to be discovered by more readers! The illustrations by John Lawrence are essential to the wonder of this book – the cross-sections of the house are so detailed, allowing your little readers to count everyone staying the night at the Mistletoe family home, and all the funny places they find to sleep in! A lovely story about kindness to others and being a safe, welcoming place for everyone to stay.
Find It Here >> Christmas In Exeter Street
Snow in the Garden – Shirley Hughes
Looking for a gorgeous treasury that has a little bit of everything? This would be my favourite choice. Filled with festive poems, stories and craft activities, it is a great book to return to throughout the holidays and share as a family.
Find It Here >> Snow In The Garden
It is almost impossible to choose just ten books and not feel guilty about all the other amazing choices. Anything by Shirley Hughes, Kipper, Briggs’ Father Christmas, The Polar Express, Paddington…..each just as worthy of a place on the list. Whichever books you choose, the most important thing is to read them with your loved ones and enjoy that special time together – bonding over stories, discussing what might happen next or what you would do differently, poring over the beautiful illustrations. Stories are an excellent way to find some moments of peace in the hectic holiday season – time for snuggling under blankets and letting these wonderful storytellers take you on a Christmas journey.
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