The Best Children’s Books for Christmas

When I Was a Child, by Andy Stanton and David Litchfield
When I Was a Child, by Andy Stanton and David Litchfield
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0-5 years: Where’s Santa Claus? (Nosy Crow, £6.99) by Ingela P Arrhenius is a fabulous Christmas offering from Nosy Crow’s award winning series of books that includes Where’s Mr Lion?, which won Sainsbury’s Children’s Book of the Year in 2017. With bright, friendly illustrations and soft felt flaps this is a sweet book to cuddle up with and share with a wee one over the festive period.

Andy Stanton and David Litchfield make an accomplished pairing with their beautiful When I Was A Child (Hodder Children’s Books, £12.99). Whimsical and full of imagination, this striking book celebrates the relationship between a grandparent and child, and the magic in everything around us. With flying elephants and kingdoms under the sea, Litchfield’s illustrations create a surreal fantasy world where “there is wonder in everything.” This book serves as a lovely reminder that “The world is a spinning star… no matter how old you are.”

The Way Home For Wolf (Orchard Books, £12.99) is a delightful moral tale by the fantastic wordsmith Rachel Bright and the brilliant Jim Field of Oi Frog! fame. When Wilf the little wolf gets separated from the pack as they journey across the Arctic he is too proud to call for help and various instances of mild peril ensue. Some new friends help him to find his way back and Wilf realises that he can’t do everything on his own and that he doesn’t need to. Bright’s rhyming text zips the story along and is great for reading aloud, while Field’s illustrations give the book an immersive, animated feel.

An alphabet book with a difference, Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson and Sharon King-Chai (Two Hoots, £14.99) combines stunning illustrations with a plethora of fold-outs and cutaways to make the alphabet come alive with colour and detail. Who can butt better than a flamingo? A goat of course! With a charming hide-and seek element which invites readers to guess which animal comes next, this is a gorgeous book to engage with small children. - Emma Dunn

6-9 Years: Author Jeremy Strong and illustrator Rebecca Bagley introduce us to a hilarious animal friendship in their short story collection, Armadillo and Hare (David Fickling, £9.99). Armadillo and Hare live together in the Big Forest, and although they get on well, they certainly have their differences – Armadillo loves cheese sandwiches, while Hare enjoys playing the tuba. From uninvited guests to a broken fridge light, every situation provides an opportunity for both comedy and wisdom for the reader to enjoy.

Sally Gardner brings together an eccentric cast of characters for an unusual quest in the first instalment of her new series, Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Blue Moon (Zephyr, £10.99). Betsy waits eagerly for the circus to come to town, but when Mr Tiger arrives he brings her a seemingly impossible challenge: to free his acrobats from an evil princess by making ice cream that grants wishes. This dyslexia-friendly title, full of enchanting illustrations from Nick Maland, is a very playful read.

Whether composing the perfect letter to Santa Claus, setting out a case for getting a pet rabbit or creating a friendship contract, Sign Here (Prestel, £10.99) is the perfect companion for all young writers. This book of forms to complete, copy and pull out is full of witty templates to help children express their emotions, dreams and ideas. Writer Gabrielle Djanogly and illustrator Adele Mildred have created the activity book you never knew you needed.

If you are looking for a new fairy-tale to share this Christmas, Matt Haig’s The Truth Pixie (Canongate, £9.99) is a great choice. Truth Pixie can only say things that are true, even if they are hard to hear, so she sometimes hurts people’s feelings without meaning to. This rhyming tale follows her as she meets different characters who help her to appreciate her power for honesty and find her place in the world. For a short and simple tale, the impact of Haig’s writing and Chris Mould’s illustrations is powerful, reassuring and uplifting. - Sarah Mallon

9-12 Years: The Dog that Saved Christmas (Barrington Stoke, £6.99) is a heart-warming festive story which explores how the busy nature of the festive season can affect people differently. While many people love Christmas, it’s difficult for Jake with the bright lights everywhere and the lack of routine. However, when he finds a lost dog he starts to help her understand what’s going on, which helps him more than anyone could have predicted. Author Nicola Davies and illustrator Mike Byrne share this important story with great care, skill and warmth.

Jessica Townsend welcomes readers back to the fantastical world of Nevermoor in her second book, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Hachette, £12.99). With the Wundrous Society trials behind her, Morrigan can finally claim her rightful place, but not everyone is keen to welcome her. Meanwhile, strange disappearances and blackmail make it difficult to know who to trust. Wundersmith is an engaging sequel, in which Morrigan and the reader face both thrilling adventures and serious questions about good and evil.

Since Oona can remember, she has longed for adventure: to set sail on her father’s ship, The Plucky Leopard, and explore the wild and dangerous seas of The North. Her chance finally comes to stow away, but she can hardly imagine the difficulties and excitement that await her on this epic journey. In The Girl, the Cat and the Navigator (Scholastic, £6.99), Matilda Woods’ beautiful and powerful storytelling pulls you into Oona’s world, where magic and wonder abound.

As her father fights in the First World War, little Rosalie sits at the back of a schoolroom on a secret mission. She might look like a five-year-old girl, too young to take part in the lessons, but Captain Rosalie knows much more than anyone realises. Timothée de Fombelle uses Rosalie’s story to capture the devastating impact of the war through the eyes of a child, with vivid illustrations from Isabelle Arsenault. Captain Rosalie (Walker, £8.99) is a sensitive, at times playful and very moving glimpse into the past. - Sarah Mallon