12 of the best first Christmas books for babies and toddlers

Board books are the perfect way to engage babies and toddlers in a story.

We love their chunky form and sturdy pages that are easy to hold, explore… and keep in tact! They make excellent stocking fillers too.

Here are 12 that we think every tiny child should find under the tree…

1. Jane Foster’s Christmas. £6.99, Templar

This gorgeous festive version of the textile designer’s distinctive first concept books introduces all the symbols of the season, from the classic Christmas tree and presents to reindeer, mittens and hot cocoa.

As with all her beautiful books, the artwork is brightly coloured and has bold black outlines to really grab your baby’s attention. We just love the Sixties feel of the artwork too.

Read our review of Jane Foster’s books for babies

2. Elmer’s Christmas by David McKee. £6.99, Andersen Press. 

The much-loved patchwork elephant teams up with Papa Red to give the young elephants a Christmas surprise to remember.

They travel to see snow for the first time and get to spot someone special flying in, but in return for this magical experience, the children learn a valuable lesson about the importance of giving to others. It has a gorgeous sparkly cover too.

Read about David McKee’s favourite five books

3. Baby’s First Slide and See Christmas. Illustrated by Stella Baggot, designed by Josephine Thompson. £7.99, Usborne

Encourage those fine motor skills with this chunky slider book that reveals exciting secrets when your little one interacts with it.

The primary colours are bold and festive, and each scene has a cast of animal characters doing all sorts of Christmassy activities, like lighting the tree, going sledging and building a gingerbread house. The big man also make an appearance by popping up the chimney.

4. Dream Snow by Eric Carle. £6.99, Puffin. 

When a farmer falls asleep on Christmas Eve, he wakes to find his dream of snow has come true. But he needs to get his presents to his animals, so he pulls on his warmest clothes (which leave him looking suspiciously like Father Christmas…) and sets off through the white world to deliver them.

With flaps to explore, numbers to learn and Carle’s signature collage illustrations, this book is made for curious little fingers and minds. There’s also a musical version with a song at the end.

Read about why we love Eric Carle’s classic books

5. Usborne Nativity Flap Book. £5.99, Usborne

The Christmas story is told in a simple and interactive way in this clear book with lots of flaps to lift. All the main scenes are included, from Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem to the arrival of the Three Wise Men.

The artwork is also sweet and engaging, with a host of cute animals and a star-filled night sky. The pages are nice and durable too.

6. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. £6.99, Alison Green Books.

The humble stick is elevated to a literary action hero in this joyous and smart rhyming tale by the children’s book dream team. In a plot that’s like a mash up of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Home Alone, Stick Man must overcome and avoid danger and death, travelling far and wide to try and get back to his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three. Will he make it home in time for Christmas?

The books of Julia and Axel are the subject of an interactive exhibition at Discover Story Centre in London until the end of the year. Read our review here

7. Where’s Santa Claus? by Ingela P Arrhenius. £6.99, Nosy Crow

Set out on a search for Santa with this hide-and-seek board book which introduces your baby to a cast of Christmas characters. The artwork is stunningly stylish, with hints of gold and eye-catching fluorescent to really grab your little one’s attention.

What’s especially neat are the flaps behind which Mrs Polar Bear, Mr Snowman and co are concealed – they’re made from soft felt, making it easy for tiny hand to grab them (and less risk of ripping too). There’s an exciting surprise at the end in the form of a mirror so your little explorer can also seek themselves.

8. That’s Not My Elf by Fiona Watt. £6.99, Usborne. 

This elf-themed edition of the celebrated ‘That’s Not My…’ board book series will let the youngest members of your family to join in with Christmas story time.

The textured patches, repetitive language and simple drawings are just made to grab your baby’s attention. And there’s a lovely sparkly bell at the end to enjoy.

That’s Not My Lamb was one of our 10 best books of baby’s first year – what others made the list?

9. A Tiny Little Story: Christmas by Lisa Jones and Edward Underwood. £10.99, Nosy Crow

The tiniest little children will adore this stylish cloth book, which follows a baby enjoying his very first Christmas. He sees a birdie in the tree, makes a snowman and then Santa Claus brings a present when he is fast asleep.

The artwork is really bold, with a simple bright colour palette, and we love the crinkly fabric pages and velcro buggy hook for taking it whenever you go during the festive season. It comes in a beautiful gift box too.

10. The First Christmas by Rod Campbell. £5.99, Macmillan

The bestselling Dear Zoo author gives the nativity story a simple retelling in this sweet book that will appeal to babies as much as older children.

The drawings are in Rod’s classic style, with distinct outlines and appealing faces, while the text is uncomplicated and easy to follow. It’s a great introduction to the main characters and events around the birth of Jesus.

Read our review of Dear Zoo

11. Usborne Touchy-Feely Father Christmas by Fiona Watt and Rebecca Finn. £10.99, Usborne

Enjoy a sensory seasonal experience thanks to this chunky board book which follows the main man as he packs up his sleigh on Christmas Eve and heads out to deliver presents. The text is very simple to follow while the illustrations are full of festivities – and lots of sparkle too.

Your child will enjoy stroking Santa’s fluffy coat, peering through the windows and touching the textured wrapping paper. The book also features an army of elves and reindeers, and look out for a special little helper – the famous mouse from the That’s Not My… series.

12. Snow Dog by Raymond Briggs. £7.99, Puffin

This special edition dog-shaped book is the perfect introduction to the Snow Dog and Snowman characters for tiny children.

The rhyming story is very simple but beautifully coloured and the cover has a lovely flocked nose for little fingers to stroke. Baby Bookworm is very taken with his “doggie”.

More Christmas reads…

Why Pick a Pine Tree is our favourite new Christmas story

The best snowy stories for children

10 of the best classic Christmas books for children

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