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Best children’s books about Christmas

Father Christmas
Get into the festive spirit with some Christmas-themed bedtime stories – perfect to snuggle up to in front of the tree, sipping mulled wine (you) and hot chocolate (them). From wintery classics to new favourites about Father Christmas and his life in the North Pole, this reading list is suitable for all ages.

A Christmas Story by Brain Wildsmith

(£4.68, Oxford Children’s Books)
A little girl and a donkey journey to Bethlehem in a wonderful retelling of the Nativity from one of the UK’s most acclaimed picture-book writers and illustrators. First published over 20 years ago, the child-centered perspective offers a great introduction to Christmas events and traditions.

Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker by James Mayhew

(£7.35, Orchard Books)

Sugar plums, Christmas trees, swirling snowflakes and midnight adventures – what could be more Christmassy than the Nutcracker story? Join Ella Bella Ballerina as she twirls into the world of the ballet and helps to defeat the wicked Mouse King. A must-read before a trip to the theatre or a post-Christmas viewing of the ballet on TV.

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

(£6.49, Puffin)

It’s Christmas and the postman is busy delivering more than just cards to Baby Bear, Red Riding Hood and Humpty Dumpty – and we get to open the envelopes and peek at their post too! A festive favourite which children love to unwrap again and again, this is a new-look edition to celebrate the Ahlbergs’ classic’s twentieth birthday.

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

(£7.99, Puffin)

The cranky, wonderful Father Christmas we all remember from our childhoods, beautifully depicted in Raymond Briggs’ comic strip. He moans about the bloomin’ weather, packs a thermos full of tea to drink during the deliveries and almost forgets to stop off at Buckingham Palace, but every page of this classic tale about him is magical.

The Nativity by May Eliot, illustrated by Richard Harvey

(£7.35, Random House)

A classic but simple retelling of the Christmas story, perfect for children who are discovering it for the first time. A great way to introduce baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the manger, Angel Gabriel and the three kings before the school Nativity play or a children's church service.

The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis

(£5, Puffin)

Have you been good enough to guarantee a visit from Father Christmas this year? It’s Christmas Eve and one little girl is very worried – will helping Santa put right a mistake be enough to redeem her? Acclaimed Love Actually scriptwriter Richard Curtis adds to his collection of Christmas stories with his first children’s book.

Alfie's Christmas by Shirley Hughes

(£7.35, Random House)

Join Alfie and Annie Rose as they prepare for an "ordinary" but completely magical family Christmas by opening their Advent calendar, baking and making cards and presents. When the big day arrives stocking presents are followed by a special dinner, a search for batteries, a nap for a crotchety Annie Rose and a walk in the fresh air, simple but super-special activities that make up most families' festive fun! Beautifully illustrated, this new Alfie story is sure to become a counting-down-to-Christmas favourite.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

(£7.35, Puffin)

The Snowman was narrated exclusively through pictures, but you can celebrate 30 years of the classic animated film with an audio CD book or eBook and listen to the story and music from the film as you look through the images. One wintery night a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins for one small boy…

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

(£21.05, HarperCollins)

‘My dear children, I am more shaky than usual this year. The North Polar Bear’s fault. It was the biggest bang in the world, and the most monstrous firework there has ever been. It turned the North Pole black!’ J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit, wrote a letter from Father Christmas to his children every year, and here the envelopes and notes are reproduced and collected to reveal how the reindeer scattered presents all over the place, a polar bear fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room and a troublesome horde of goblins caused trouble for the elves! Enchanting for grown-ups and children alike.

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray

(£3.49, Orchard Books)

‘On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…’ Partridges, swans, pipers and maids are brought to life in Jane Ray’s beautiful illustrations, a new interpretation of the traditional Christmas verse. Guaranteed to be requested and pored over long after Epiphany!

Aliens love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman

(£6.48, Simon and Schuster)

Everyone’s favourite aliens are full of the festive spirit and so they are giving away their beloved underpants! Join them as they help out in Santa’s busy workshop, put neon pants on Rudolph and tie knickers up in the place of stockings. A Christmas adventure from the underwear-loving extra-terrestrials, packed with bloomers and briefs.

Horrid Henry’s Christmas Presents by Francesca Simon

(£2.79, Orion)

Hurrah – Horrid Henry has come up with a great plan to get out of buying Christmas presents for his family! An Early Reader story that’s perfect for developing readers, written to act as a stepping stone from picture books to copy-heavy reading books but packed with Horrid Henry’s inimitable escapades and schemes.

Father Christmas needs a wee by Nicholas Allan

(£6.75, Random House)

A Christmas counting book that’s sure to be popular with younger children – watch them giggle with delight as Father Christmas helps himself to tasty treats as he delivers the presents, only to find that he really, really, really needs a wee… If this is a favourite in your house, the sequel is Father Christmas comes up trumps (£5.99, Random House), all about what happens when Father Christmas has three helpings of sprouts and his tummy starts to rumble...

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

(£3.34, Orchard Books)

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house / Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” Start a new tradition with an annual, all-family reading of the Clement Moore verse on Christmas Eve – this magical, snow-covered version captures all the excitement of the countdown to the big day.

Katie's London Christmas by James Mayhew

(£11.99, Orchard Books)

An extraordinary London sleigh ride (with a rather special driver), snowy sights, festive sounds and all the hallmarks of a magical London Christmas – it's all in this brand new Katie story, perfect for pint-sized capital-dwellers.

Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher

(£5.99, Nosy Crow)

A timely retelling of the Christmas story, with a difference: Jesus, Mary and Joseph's experience of life as refugees when they escaped from Herod's soldiers and made their way to Egypt. A great way to introduce the subject of the refugee crisis with young children, and £1 from the sale of each book goes to War Child, the charity for children in conflict.

A Boy Called Christmas  
The Girl Who Saved Christmas 
Father Christmas and Me
The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

(£6.48, Canongate)

Ever wondered how Father Christmas became Father Christmas? Find out in best-selling author Matt Haig's magical mixture of folklore and fairytale and fun, a fabulously festive Christmas story sequence that's perfect for reading aloud to your children on Christmas Eve once the stockings have been hung up. New in 2018 is the fourth book in the best-selling series, The Truth Pixie, packed with beautiful illustrations by Chris Mould.

Horrible Christmas

(£2.97, Scholastic)

Uncover some horrible truths about the festive season with a bookful of weird and wonderful facts about Christmas carols, crackers, cards, puddings, traditions, presents and more. There's even a Christmas Bored Board game to keep you busy on Boxing Day...

Hetty Feather's Christmas by Jacqueline Wilson

(£3.29, Doubleday)

A Christmas treat for Hetty Feather fans, a new Victorian Christmas story from Jacqueline Wilson comes with present-wrapping tips, a festive quiz, a gingerbread stars receipe, decoration and card ideas and a step-by-step guide to drawing Herry Feather from illustrator Nick Sharratt.

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen

(£6.35, Scholastic)

Scrooge's journey to Christmas joy gets a modern and very relevant retelling for kids aged 9+ from Michael Rosen. Introduce your child to the classic A Christmas Carol tale through the story of Harry Gruber. He's playing Scrooge in his school Christmas play and desperately wants his dad to forget about work for an evening to watch him perform... but will he?

Emily Brown and Father Christmas by Cressida Cowell

(£10.95, Hodder Children's Books)

Emily Brown and her sidekick Stanley are back for the festive season, ready to save the day when Father Christmas runs into a few unexpected logistical problems on Christmas Eve. The delightfully down-to-earth Emily Brown has no trouble coming up with solutions – but with a no-stockings Christmas looming, will she and old grey rabbit Stanley be able to sort Santa out in time? If you're not already an Emily Brown fan, there are five other books to discover, too. Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Carol by Tony Mitton

(£7.35, Hachette Children's Books)

Introduce even the youngest of children to the classic Dickens story and the true spirit of Christmas with this lovely rhyme retelling. Mike Redman's beautiful, atmospheric illustrations will immerse the whole family in Scrooge's Christmas past, Victorian Christmas present and Christmas future; this is the perfect introduction to a story of redemption, hope and festive joy.

Clarice Bean Think Like an Elf by Lauren Child

(£13.75, Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Lauren Child's beloved character is back in a festive special, bursting with full-colour illustrations, quirky typography and her trademark wit and warmth.

It is going to be a quiet-ish Christmas for Clarice Bean, which doesn’t feel right because Christmas is all about noisiness and being full up and FAMILY. There's nothing else for it – she's going to have to try exceptionordinarily hard to stop the Christmas spirit completely floating away…

100 Best Christmas Poems for Children by Roger McGough

(£8.99, SPCK Publishing)

"If poems were gifts, and in many ways they are, children will find plenty to absorb and amuse them in this bulging stocking of an anthology," explains poet and editor Roger McGough. "Christmas is, of course, a religious festival for Christians all over the world, but the message of hope, forgiveness and love at its centre means that it is for everyone. As are these poems."

A wonderful collection of festive poetry, from traditional verses by Christina Rossetti and William Blake to modern classics by Julia Donaldson and Benjamin Zephaniah. Haiku, songs, shape poems, letters and other poetic forms – rhyming and non-rhyming – explore key themes of joy, hope and peace, as well as celebrating the festive fun of Christmas, from the opening of the first Advent window to the tidying away of the decorations.

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