Eight marvellous children’s books (and two that are really good for teachers)

A book IS a good Christmas present!

Yes, I’m shouting!

I know reading isn’t everyone’s favourite. But it is mine. I love getting and giving books as Christmas presents. Or any type of present. Or book vouchers. I especially love giving children books. Partly, because it means I get to spend some time perusing the children’s book section and seeing all the fabulous new releases.

If you’re a bit stuck on what to get a child you’re buying for this Christmas– check their shelves to see if they’re missing any of these gems.

There’s enough hype around the new and celebrity driven ones, you can easily find them. These are all a bit older, but no less marvellous.

I believe very strongly that reading is for everyone and you should read what suits you. These are all picture books. I also believe very strongly that picture books are not just for little children. I choose books to match what I know of a person, and that includes a little person. It doesn’t matter if they can’t read it themselves, someone can read it to them. Just because you can read chapter books, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a picture book. It is for this reason that I’m not attaching age ranges to my list. Have a look at them and see if you think your little person will enjoy the story. That is all that matters.

Likewise, I’m not linking to any booksellers. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to have an independent book shop to look through. If not (like me), you can choose your online purveyor yourself.

Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allen

This is my favourite retelling of the traditional nativity story ever. It’s from the point of view of the increasingly harassed and very grumpy innkeeper. It’s hilarious.


Front cover of Jesus's Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan


Ideal for:

All children at Christmas. It’s a very accessible way to understand the actual Nativity story and has a repeating phrase that is great for audience participation!


‘Can Anybody Hear Me?’ by Jessica Meserve

Jack lives with his lovely, big, noisy family. No one seems to ever hear him. One day he goes off to climb a mountain with his teddy Chester and…well, I don’t want to give away too much!

Gorgeous illustrations.


Front cover of Can Anybody Hear Me By Jessica Meserve


Ideal for:

Quiet souls, so they can see themselves represented and understood. And the more talkative among us, so they can see through different eyes.


‘The Paper Bag Princess’ Story: Robert Munsch Art: Michael Martchenko

Once upon a time, there was a prince called Ronald who was taken by a fierce dragon. Princess Elizabeth bravely set out to rescue him. Do they all end up living happily ever after?


Front cover of The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko


Ideal for:

Any children that have ever read or watched a fairy tale story. Especially ones about princesses being rescued by princes. So that’s all children. This should be owned by all children!


‘Jolly Snow’ by Jane Hissey

Jolly Tall the toy giraffe is desperate for it to snow. While they are waiting for real snow to fall outside, Jolly Tall and his other toy friends make all kinds of different types of snow inside.

This is just lovely and each activity they do is an idea to use during the holidays. Lots of prompts for science-type discussions and experiments.


Front cover of Jolly Snow by Jane Hissey


Ideal for:

Those that like investigating.


‘Owl Babies’ by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson

I just absolutely love this book. Three baby owls are left asleep in their nest, while Mummy owl goes hunting. It is a bit of an unexpected shock when they wake up alone. Sarah and Percy try to make the best of things. As for the third owlet, “I want my mummy” is all he can manage. It is just beautiful.


Front cover of Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson


Ideal for:

Those that find it tricky to separate from a parent/carer.


‘The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was None of his Business’ by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch

Someone poops on little mole’s head – not the best start to the morning. He is understandably enraged and sets off to find the culprit; animal by animal, poo by poo. Revenge is his goal. The entire premise is wonderful and hilarious.

Poo is hilarious.

I particularly like that he realises he can speed up his search by consulting an expert on the matter. A good life lesson in itself! The descriptions of the different sorts of poo are excellent for imaginative language development.


Front cover of The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it was None of his Business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch


Ideal for:

Everyone, because toilet humour. (And vocabulary development.)



‘The Mixed Up Chameleon’ by Eric Carle

After encountering an array of different animals for the first time, at a zoo, chameleon becomes envious of their attributes. He wishes to be “handsome like a flamingo” and “smart like a fox.” The magic of his wish means that he gets flamingo wings and legs, a fox’s bushy tail and some attributes of the other animals. But what does that mean he can’t do? And what do you think his last wish is?

This is cleverly designed, with both colour and animal tabs for the different animal’s pages. There’s lots more to it than just the thought provoking story.


Front cover of The Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carle


Ideal for:

The thinkers, worriers and those with less self confidence.


‘Once Upon A Picnic’ by John Prater

Glorious book! There are two stories going on at the same time. One is in the words, the other (more exciting one) is in the pictures. Don’t want to give too much away, but… Whilst on an ordinary picnic with his parents, a little boy meets characters he only knows from fairy stories.


Front cover of Once Upon A Picnic by John Prater


Ideal for:

Those that know all the traditional tales already (Little Red Riding Hood, Three Bears etc.) and love playing with their original format.


Bonus section for any teachers on your gift list?

‘Scritch Scratch’ by Miriam Moss and Delphine Durand

A lovely friend bought me this with the warning “Just remember to tie that hair up” as part of her inscription! Yes, it’s about everyone’s favourite – nits! It gives the actual facts about how head lice spread in a classroom, in the most entertaining way. Loads of details in the illustrations. All of the children and their teacher, Miss Calypso, need to be treated to get rid of them. Unfortunately, Miss Calypso didn’t have anyone to help her with treatment and she still has them the next day. Luckily Mr Trout, the Head teacher, steps in to help her. And, over the nit comb, an inter-staff romance blossoms. A very industry specific love story!


Front cover of Scritch Scratch by Miriam Moss and Delphine Durand


It’s a great way to talk about head lice, dispelling the myths and stigma that still surround these horrible little pests.

Warning: you will be scratching your head by the time you’re finished.

Top gift tip: give with some headlice shampoo and comb!


‘Once Upon An Ordinary School Day’ Colin McNaughton Illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura

Genius illustrator. This is the story of a little boy who goes to school on an ordinary, grey morning. Then in walks Mr Gee, a totally new supply teacher, carrying a gramophone. The task he sets the children unlocks their extraordinary imaginations.


Front cover of Once Upon An Ordinary School Day by Colin McNaughton and Satoshi Kitamura


This is just superb and a great starter to a lesson doing exactly the same thing!

Merry Christmas!

Hope this has helped in the great Christmas present buying quest. I genuinely love all of these books and hope your little ones do too.

Merry Christmas! Wishing you only beautiful words in the New Year.


The end Last illustration in Jesus' Christmas Party


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