Recommended Reads for Children: A Christmas Collection

Just in time for the season, our regular Recommending Reader Marianne is back with a selection of cracking Christmas reads the whole family can enjoy together over the holiday. You might just find something that would be a perfect Christmas present – there is no better time to snuggle up and share a story with those children in your life.

night before christmasThe Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore/Holly Hobbie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2013)

You will find many illustrated interpretations of this classic poem by Clement C. Moore, translated in many languages it continues to be recited to children all over the world. I have chosen this new 2013 edition by acclaimed watercolorist Holly Hobbie. Hobbie introduces the reader to an entirely new character to capture the magic and heighten the wonder of this exciting, mysterious time.

stick manStick Man – Julia Donaldson (Alison Green Books; 2009)

Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson yet again produces a winning formula with the character of Stick Man and his instantly loveable family, ‘stick lady love and his stick children three’. Stick Man’s journey takes him away from home and into dangerous places for sticks, where dogs want to play, swans want to build and fire wants to burn but he also happens to meet somebody stuck in a chimney…. I wonder who that could be?  As always with Donaldson there are wonderful rhymes and the illustrations by Axel Scheffler make this a real festive treat.

big snowBig Snow – Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Straus  and Giroux; 2013)

This cosy and funny book tells the story of an excited and frustrated boy watching hopefully as the wintry weather develops slowly into a ‘big snow’. I loved this book, because I was always the child checking the weather and hoping for an epic snowstorm. Many will relate to the mum in this story, as she asks for help cleaning from her distracted son but ends up having to do more work as a result. There are wonderful details tucked into the illustrations and the images of snow falling, from the first small sprinkles to the steady pelting of no-nonsense flakes captures the progression of a serious, big snowfall perfectly.

let it snowLet it Snow: Three Holiday Romances – John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Penguin; 2013)

From three of today’s bestselling teen authors, the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love and romance. If you are looking for a light and fun Christmas read to curl up with when it’s cold outside then these three short stories are perfect. John Green is a fantastic writer of young adult fiction and if you haven’t come across him I urge you to read An Abundance of Katherine’s or his latest heart-breaking  novel Fault in Our Stars.

peter rabbitThe Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit – Emma Thompson (Warne; 2012)

Beautifully illustrated and written in a style faithful to Beatrix Potter, Oscar winning screenwriter and actress Emma Thompson sets her story just before Christmas. Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny and a new friend, William the Turkey are pretty excited for the upcoming festivities until they realize that William is meant to be Mr. McGregor’s Christmas supper! Just in time, Peter and Benjamin hide William, and the three enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner of pickled radishes and barley cake at the Rabbit family burrow.

jolly christmas postmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Puffin; 2013)

Twenty years ago, long before anyone else thought of tucking actual letters and notes inside a book, Little Brown published The Jolly Postman by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. This wonderful book gave children a chance to read letters sent from one fairy tale or Mother Goose character to another. In this Christmas edition we once again see the postman delivering letters to well loved characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Red Riding Hood. The Jolly Christmas Postman is a simple picture storybook, a timeless gem that just gets it right. Beautifully illustrated with letters and parcels for children to open and touch.

polar expressThe Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen; 2009)

I truly love this story for it reminds me how Christmases are supposed to feel; the magic that Christmas morning brings; the wonderful cooking; those waking moments when we run towards our Christmas stockings just to check what Santa has brought for us. This book contains magic, the North pole, elves, children and of course Santa Claus.  This is a timeless tale anyone could enjoy….as long as they believe!

the lump of coal#The Lump of Coal – Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins; 2008) 

This suggestion is probably more for the adults but I love Lemony Snicket more and more and although the intended age of audience is ambiguous I just had to have this hilarious tale in my top ten. A charming little holiday story about the trials and tribulations of a lump of coal who aspires to make avant-garde art. The Lump of Coal is a simplistic humorous story yet features a final page that is utterly remarkable, a beautiful paragraph that stands on a par with Seuss and Dickens for great Christmas morality. I will share it with you here:

“It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.”

room for a little oneRoom for a Little One: A Christmas Tale – Martin Waddell (Little Simon; 2008)

Room for a Little One is an endearing tale by Martin Waddell, taken from the Nativity it tells the story of how all the animals are welcomed into the stable to see the birth of Jesus. A lovely introduction to the nativity for very young readers with beautiful illustrations. I’m sure this book will become a Christmas Eve tradition for many families.

gift of the magiGift of the Magi – O. Henry (minedition; 2013)

I have always loved this story and enjoyed sharing it with my Get into Reading Groups at Christmas time. This new, beautifully illustrated interpretation of the well-loved, poignant short story by O. Henry would be appreciated by older children and would make a wonderful gift. Briefly, the story involves Della and Jim who are very much in love  but have no money to buy gifts for each other. When Della decides to make a great sacrifice that will give her enough money to buy the present Jim deserves, she soon discovers that that her selfless act may have been for naught. A heart-breaking yet wonderful tale.

You can buy any of these books through The Reader Organisation’s Amazon Bookshop link or your local independent bookshop: search through The Bookseller’s Association website to find the one closest to you. Plus, there’s always Santa…

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