21 top children’s books to enjoy over the Christmas holidays

Christmas is the ideal time for reading. Children at Hillside Primary School, Ipswich, in their libr

Christmas is the ideal time for reading. Children at Hillside Primary School, Ipswich, in their library. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The festive season offers the perfect time to get cosy with a book. Children’s librarians in Ipswich have drawn up a list of 21 top titles to enjoy over the Christmas holidays.

Christmas is the ideal time for reading. Children at Hillside Primary School, Ipswich, in their libr

Christmas is the ideal time for reading. Children at Hillside Primary School, Ipswich, in their library. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

In an age where games and apps are hugely popular, reading time can all too easily come under threat, but winter is an ideal opportunity to spend more time reading.

Our £20,000 Books for Schools initiative has highlighted the vital importance of reading for youngsters. Schools are busy gathering together all the tokens which have been appearing in the Ipswich Star and EADT newspapers, and the winners will be announced in the new year.

Jayne Gould, librarian at Broke Hall Primary School in Ipswich, said: “Christmas is the perfect time to curl up with a book, either sharing one as a family, or on your own.

“The festive period is a time when families can relax together and enjoy a story. With all the excitement of Christmas, reading provides an opportunity for calm.”

Mrs Gould, who is also secretary of Ipswich Children’s Book Group, added: “If the weather is bad, you have instant entertainment – books don’t need batteries! Why not start a new tradition of sharing a special Christmas book together and spread a little magic?”

Sarah Hodge, librarian at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich, said: “Books for me are always a bit of an escape, a moment of calm in a busy world, time to be transported somewhere else, and this was also true when reading to and with my own children.

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“Christmas can be a frantic, busy, rush-around time, so the chance to snuggle down together and share a book is very important, it may help to calm and soothe both children and grown ups alike.”

Here is a list of 21 top books for children over the festive period, from suggestions by the two librarians - they are in no particular order and include classics and reissues as well as new titles.

1. Elmer in the Snow by David McKee - Our favourite elephant, soon to be seen out and about on the streets of Ipswich.

2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - A classic with a strong moral. Why not try the graphic novel or a children’s version if you think the original tale might be too long?

3. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Alan Ahlberg - Lots of fun things to do with this interactive book. Also a good reminder about the importance of writing letters.

4. A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig - Is this the true story of Christmas, where the impossible becomes possible? Suitable for age nine plus.

5. Santa’s Beard by Matilda Tristram - Who will wear the beard next, will it be you?

6. Invasion of the Christmas Puddings by Jeremy Strong - Laugh along with this funny book with a different take on Christmas. Suitable for children age seven plus.

7. Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr - This book makes you think about what Christmas is like seen through the eyes of our pets.

8. Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens - A murder mystery set in the 1930s. Suitable for older/confident readers, age 10 plus.

9. Spot’s First Christmas by Eric Hill - A lovely “lift the flap” book to share.

10. There’s a Yeti in the Playground by Pamela Butchart - the “Izzy and friends” books are firm favourites that involve lots of laughs. Suitable for age seven plus.

11. How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T Smith - Winston the mouse finds a lost letter to Father Christmas and sets off to deliver it.

12. Mince Spies by Mark Sperring and Sophie Corrigan - Something is destroying all the Christmas treats in the supermarket, so Santa sends in his Mince Spies on a secret mission to uncover the culprits.

13. The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller - How did Father Christmas become Father Christmas? Jackson finds out the true story.

14. The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Kes Gray and Claire Powell - It’s the day before Christmas Eve and Santa is busy. But has he forgotten something, and will he be ready in time?

15. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Brian Wildsmith - An enchanting journey through the song by a famous illustrator.

16. We’re Going on an Elf Chase by Martha Mumford and Laura Hughes - Four bunnies set off on a jolly Christmas lift-the-flap adventure in this picture book.

17. Snow in the Garden: A First Book of Christmas by Shirley Hughes - This beautifully-illustrated anthology includes winter adventures, poems, festive recipes and easy craft activities.

18. How to Hide a Lion at Christmas by Helen Stephens - Iris and her lion go everywhere together, but when the family goes away for Christmas, Mum says the lion must stay behind. However, he has other ideas!

19. Winnie and Wilbur: The Santa Surprise by Laura Owen and Korky Paul - Winnie wants to give Santa a Christmas surprise, which is the cue for a special delivery involving flying trains and broomstick sledges.

20: The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Robin Shaw - A version of The Snowman for a new generation of readers, inspired by the timeless tale.

21. Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne - Celebrate the Nativity with this beautifully illustrated version of the much-loved carol.