Christmas gift guide: best children’s books

From festive classics to a few new faces, these are the perfect holiday reads for kids

(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The holiday season is a time for giving, and what better gift to give to a child than the gift of reading.

Here are some of the best children’s books for Christmas, featuring old favourites, as well as a few newbies.

Twas the night before Christmas - Clement C. Moore

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Where to start, but with a classic? Moore’s 1823 poem is a perfect Christmas Eve read and is available in a variety of illustrated variations.

Pan Macmillan’s edition, illustrated by Eric Puybaret, is a contender for the most fun version - and comes with a three-song CD recorded by award-winning performers Peter, Paul and Mary.

For something a little more interactive, Usborne Publishing’s pop-up edition, with illustrations by Gaia Bordicchia, is also a surefire winner.

The Snowman - Raymond Briggs

While best known as a film, Brigg’s The Snowman is another classic of the genre. What it lacks in Alec Jones’s angelic strains, it makes up for with lovely illustrations that perfectly set the tone for a magical Christmas.

The original Penguin edition would be our recommendation, but for a more modern spin the publisher has also issued a modern take on the tale by author Michael Morpurgo.

Mog’s Christmas - Judith Kerr

No, not Jacob Rees. This classic tale of the famous literary cat captures the imagination and is another ideal Christmas Eve read.

The tale follows Mog as she escapes the upheaval of Christmas decorations by hiding on the roof of her house. That is, until she is disturbed late at night by a sudden fall.

Geronimo - David Walliams

A more modern addition to the list, the Little Britain star’s tale of gravity-defying go-getter Geronimo the penguin is fast becoming a Christmas favourite.

Illustrated by artist Tony Ross, the book tells the tall tale of Geronimo, the first penguin to be able to fly, who reaches for the skies in a cheering story about following your dreams.

Peppa Meets Father Christmas

So famous is Peppa Pig that American children have reportedly started speaking with English accents after bingeing on the show.

The television piglet has also inspired more than 200 books. In this festive tale, Peppa is ready to star in her playgroup Christmas play when a very special guest appears in the wings.

The perfect choice for a Peppa-obsessed child.

Paddington and the Christmas Surprise - Michael Bond

An old friend reimagined recently for the big screen, Paddington is once again becoming a hit with younger audiences.

After the runaway success of director Paul King’s 2014 and 2017 films, this book sees the Brown family take Paddington to the Christmas grotto at the local department store.

Filled with unexpected surprises, the book is a perfect addition to a cold Christmas evening by the fire.

Hamish and the Terrible Terrible Christmas and Other Stories - Danny Wallace

For something a little different, writer and comedian Wallace’s tale of Hamish Ellerby attempting to stop a horde of rampaging Terribles from ruining Christmas is a good stocking-filler for slightly older children.

More raucous than your classic Christmas tale, the book also has two more stories of brave children stepping up to save the festive season from disaster.

Comic Tim Minchin said: “Poor Danny Wallace! Once kids get their hands on this quirky and hilarious book, they’re gonna be bugging him to write Hamish stories ‘til he’s 97.”

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard - Terry Pratchett

Pratchett unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but he was incapable of writing a bad book and this is no exception.

A wonderful collection of Christmas stories, stunningly illustrated by Mark Beech, the book features a huge exploding mince pie, a pet abominable snowman and a very helpful partridge in a pear tree.

Combined with tales about Father Christmas working at a zoo, causing chaos in a toy store and even being arrested for burglary - the book is a rip-roaring read from a master of children’s fiction.

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