Five of our favourite books to share with children at Christmas time
In this blog post, we share five recommended books that are just the ticket for Christmas cheer. These recommendations are designed to provide cosy read-aloud sessions – the perfect calming down time between the excitement of December’s festive activities! The books we’ve picked are among our favourites here at BooksForTopics HQ and can also be found on our Christmas Booklists and Printable Gift Guides.
Grab a blanket and hot chocolate and settle down to enjoy the magic of storytime in the run-up to Christmas.
Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley
Recommended for: A classic festive story about kindness and the joy of giving to others
Little Robin Red Vest is a charming picture book about the joy of giving that has the feel of a gentle Just-So story with a festive twist. Many readers will know author Jan Fearnley’s work from Mr Wolf’s Pancakes.
It is the week before Christmas and it’s getting chilly outside. Little Robin washes and irons seven warm vests to keep him cosy in the frosty evenings leading up to Christmas. As each day goes by, Robin encounters a different shivering animal and, full of compassion, he generously offers each animal one of his vests to wear.
Robin’s kindness may have prevented his animal friends from getting colder, but when Christmas Eve arrives he finds himself with nothing warm left to wear. Fortunately, a festive visitor in a red suit and a soft, white beard spots Robin and finds a joyous way to reward him for his kindness to others.
The tale is likely to inspire children to tap into the spirit of giving that Robin demonstrates so unreservedly.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the story’s publication, and to celebrate Nosy Crow has released a new deluxe edition of the bestselling Christmas classic. You’ll find this story nestled among our Christmas picturebook favourites on the BooksForTopics Christmas Books for EYFS and KS1 booklist.
The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent & Selom Sunu.
Recommended for: A super-fun chapter book that is easy to read and provides plenty of humour and cheer
Sprinkled with seasonal goodwill and a good dose of ho-ho-ho, this is a perfectly heart-warming and humorous read for the festive season and is the first in a series of three fun Christmassy stories.
Holly Carroll and her family are super-fans of Christmas, but with a bit of help from an extraordinary new friend, Holly discovers that the festive season is not always as cheer-filled for everyone as she once thought. When the world begins to lose its sparkle, Holly finds a way to channel her inner Christmas spirit to embrace her community and make a real difference to those in need.
We thoroughly enjoyed this feel-good read with its loveable cast of characters, festive puns aplenty and themes of kindness, inclusion and sparing a thought for others in the community.
The Christmas Carrolls is a top choice of story for KS2 and supporting resource sheets and activity ideas are available via the author’s website. The book has also earned a spot on our 2023 Christmas Gift Guides.
Leah’s Star by Margaret Bateson-Hill & Karin Littlewood
We love this tender retelling of the Nativity story through the eyes of Leah, the innkeeper’s daughter.
The streets of Bethlehem are bustling with people and Leah’s family are rushed off their feet, housing travellers at her father’s inn. When a woman who is just about to have her baby arrives, Leah’s father finds them a place to rest in his stable.
Wide-eyed with wonder, Leah witnesses a series of extraordinary events, including some rather unusual visitors from afar. The story is full of humanity and at its heart it depicts a young girl’s personal encounter with the very special baby at the centre of the nativity story.
Illustrated with Karin Littlewood’s watercolour scenes, this beautiful picture book brings a familiar Christmas story to life through a fresh pair of eyes and is a worthy addition to your collection of nativity storybooks.
If you are looking for even more Nativity-based Christmas stories, try Usborne’s Twinkly, Twinkly Nativity with its light-up pages, Brian Wildsmith’s beautifully illustrated and engaging recount of the nativity in A Christmas Story or, for a lighter touch, Nicholas Allan’s funny retelling of the nativity through the eyes of a grumpy innkeeper in Jesus’ Christmas Party.
4. The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas by Matt Lucas & Forrest Burdett
New for this year, The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas blends the enchantment of the festive season with the joy of music, and one that will appeal to the many children who love both. What sets this book apart is the addition of QR codes sprinkled throughout the narrative, linking to a musical soundtrack of songs that enhance the reading experience. Readers can fully immerse themselves in Leo’s world, with printed lyrics encouraging them to join in the musical adventure. If you fancy a class sing-a-long, this might be just the right Christmas story for you.
The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas recounts Leo, a big fan of all things Christmas, as he navigates the challenges of planning the perfect Christmas while his grieving family is coming to terms with the recent loss of his mother. Leo’s journey to create a magical Christmas for his family unfolds with unexpected twists and challenges, but with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, a happy ending might be around the corner. This story captures the hope that Christmas has to offer even in bleaker seasons of life, and a time to reflect on what matters amid busy Christmas preparations.
As an aside, fans of a certain Baked Potato may notice a little cameo in the catchy song “Chips”, which adds a playful touch for both children and adults.
Drawing on his comedy and musical theatre background, Matt Lucas injects a whimsical charm and a touch of originality into the crowded market of Christmas chapter books this year. The story has earned a spot on our Christmas Booklist for KS2, and the songs and additional activities are available via the author’s website.
5. Kid Christmas by David Litchfield
Recommended for: A charming take on the origins of St Nicholas, with rich and detailed illustrations that appeal to all ages
Celebrated author–illustrator David Litchfield offers a magical and festive picturebook about generosity and Christmas spirit, which could be enjoyed at different levels across the primary age range.
Kid Christmas of the Claus Brothers Toy Shop is a fresh take on the origin story of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas). It is heartwarming and charming, while teaching about kindness, compassion and love. The illustrations detail Victorian street scenes and the magic of a toy workshop, as well as capturing facial expressions of delight and joy that allow the magic of Christmas to shine through.
When young Nicky discovers that young children are living on the streets and under bridges, he becomes determined to make sure that every child gets the toy they want for Christmas and to give them all a bit of joy in their lives. With the help of his uncles, he sets out on his mission and soon decides that every child in the world must get their most wished-for toy every year at Christmas. Thus the Legend of St. Nick was born.
Kid Christmas is a beautiful and enjoyable book with stunning, rich illustrations accompanying a unique and thoughtful story that will entertain and delight. Older readers in primary classrooms might go on to research the history of St Nicholas, while younger ones will enjoy all the magic of the toy workshop and present delivery drawn out in David Litchfield’s superbly detailed style.
For more Christmas books, head to these booklists:
- Best Christmas Books for EYFS & KS1
- Best Christmas Books for KS2
- Christmas Gift Guides (with free printable versions)