Christmas is synonymous with stories. From the tale of the nativity itself to classics like A Christmas Carol, there plenty of magical tales that have been shared over generations.
But there’s always room for a new one and these recently published books contain plenty of seasonal spirit, lots of laughs and make perfect presents…
1. Emily Brown and Father Christmas by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton. £12.99 (hardback), Hodder
Kind, resourceful and strong-minded – Emily Brown is one of the most compelling female characters of the picture book world. This new story sees her come to the aid of an ailing Father Christmas, who has tried to modernise his present delivery operation only to end up stressed out and full of cold.
The wise little girl tucks him up and takes charge, ensuring children receive their gifts and Christmas is saved, assisted by bunny sidekick Stanley. It’s another charming tale from Cowell and Layton which sums up the spirit of the season.
2. Where’s Santa Claus? by Ingela P Arrhenius. £6.99 (board book), 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.
3. The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Robin Shaw. £12.99 (hardback), Puffin
Raymond Brigg’s wordless tale of a snowman coming to life and taking a little boy of a nighttime adventure is one of the most treasured Christmas books and films.
To mark its 40th anniversary, the legendary Michael Morpurgo has written this beautiful children’s novel based on the timeless tale, bringing the magic to life for a new audience. Remakes don’t always stand up to the original but this one only enhances it. A must read.
4. Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne. £10.99 (hardback), Frances Lincoln
To mark 200 years since this beautiful hymn about the nativity story was composed, illustrator Lara Hawthorne brings the words to life with strikingly beautiful artwork. The colours against the black starry sky are really striking along with the silver foil effect on the cover.
We love how this would make an equally nice gift for a child or adult, also how it can be used to start a spot of carolling if the mood takes you. There’s a lyric sheet in the back to save you turning pages, along with a short history of this traditional song.
5. 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.
6. The Night Before The Night Before Christmas by Kes Gray and Claire Powell. £6.99 (paperback), Hodder
Inspired by the famous festive tale, the bestselling author of Oi Frog reveals what happens on Christmas Eve Eve with bags of his trademark humour and a witty punchline.
There’s a real sense of excitement and anticipation as you hear about the elves’ enormous efforts to thread yo-yos, dress dollies and spring slinkies, while Santa busies himself checking his list and readying the reindeer. Like a well-oiled machine, it all comes together the next morning and the big man is off into the sky… having forgotten one very important thing. Read it to find out what!
7. Jingle Spells by James Brown. £6.99 (paperback), Simon & Schuster
Little witch Trixie’s favourite holiday isn’t Halloween – it’s Christmas! Her friends think she is as batty as a vampire so she writes to Father Christmas for help, only to find her kind are automatically on the naughty list.
So ensues an entertaining trip to the North Pole to redeem herself with Santa that sees her put a spell on the unwell elves in order to get all the presents ready for the big day. It’s lots of fun and a clever splicing of the two celebrations.
8. 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 reindeers, 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.
9. Grandpa Christmas by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Jim Field. £9.99 (hardback), Egmont
He’s one of our master storytellers and you can always rely on Michael Morpurgo to tackle important, timely issues about life in a way that is relatable and sensitive for his young audience.
This moving picture book aimed at children aged four and older takes the form of a letter from a grandfather to his granddaughter, read as a ritual each Christmas, reminding her of the beauty of our natural world and imploring future generations to take good care of it.
It’s a clever device and Jim Field’s cinematic style of illustration gives the whole thing a perfect gravitas. A reminder of what is really important at a time of year when consumerism and greed can reign – and a time when the world really does feel under threat.
10. Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree by Axel Scheffler. £8.99 (hardback), Nosy Crow
We love Axel Scheffler’s series about pals Pip and Posy, and their warm and funny friendship. In this seasonal edition, the duo get a Christmas tree and decide to decorate it with some tasty decorations.
But when greedy Pip can’t resist the gingerbread stars, candy canes and chocolate bells, their festive centrepiece is left bare – and he feels as sick as a dog. Will he tell Posy the truth – and what will she say?
11. Santa Claus vs The Easter Bunny by Fred Blunt. £11.99 (hardback), Andersen Press
Splicing the seasons is clearly a picture book trend this year and this cheeky tale imagines the Easter Bunny as somewhat of a Grinch character, annoyed by his neighbour Father Christmas and his jolly demeanour.
Our bad-tempered bunny is also upset that his hard work never gets a thank you so sets out to sabotage Santa by turning all the presents to chocolate – with unexpected results. It’s a raucous and sharply funny read, with fantastic cartoony artwork by Blunt.
More Christmas reads…