By: Katja & Victoria
Books make amazing gifts at any time of year. Buy a child a great book and they’ll be inspired, informed and transported to another world. They’ll also stop asking you if they can use the iPad! Where electronic toys come and go, books last the distance and can be passed down from one child to the next and from friend to friend.
Victoria and I asked our kids to share their favourite books as inspiration for Christmas Lists. We also asked them what new books they hope Santa might bring. Here are their answers!
As Recommended by Victoria’s Children
- 1 As Recommended by Victoria’s Children
- 2 As Recommended by Katja’s Children
- 2.1 One Dog and His Boy
- 2.2 Maps
- 2.3 The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark
- 2.4 The Secret Seven
- 2.5 The Day The Crayons Quit
- 2.6 Dragons Love Tacos
- 2.7 That’s Not My Reindeer…
- 2.8 Atlas of Adventures: A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe
- 2.9 Polly and the Puffin
- 2.10 Tyrannosaurus Drip
- 3 On The Christmas Lists!
- 4 How to be an International Spy
By: E.B. White and Garth Williams
A favourite of my 8-year-old daughter is Charlotte’s Web, a can’t-go-wrong-classic about a little girl named Fern who saves one special pig with the help of a kind spider. We’re particularly fond of this illustrated version.
House of Secrets
By: Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
What do you do when the Harry Potter series starts getting too dark (around book 4 or 5)? You start on the House of Secrets. Written by Chris Columbus, who directed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, this 2013 children’s novel follows three children on an adventure to rescue their parents. My daughter’s verdict: Almost as good as Harry Potter. Almost.
By: Terry Deary and Martin Brown
The Horrible Histories series is a collection of illustrated books created to make history fun for kids by telling you all the stuff you weren’t necessarily taught in school. With an emphasis on the gory and unbelievable, these books bring the past to life and kids seem to love them! My 6-year-old son is a big fan of Awful Egyptians. Others in the series (there are some 60-odd titles) include Ruthless Romans, Terrifying Tudors and Groovy Greeks.
By: Roger Hargreaves
The Mr Men and Little Miss books are hugely popular in the UK. There are 49 Mr Men books and 42 Little Miss each one telling the tale of one character and their dominant personality – my favourite being Mr Tickle. This one, Mr Christmas, comes recommended by both my kids.
By: Dav Pilkey
The 12 Captain Underpants books, about two fourth-grade students and the superhero they create, have been challenged or banned regularly in American schools and libraries owing to lots of talk about poop and pulling pranks and other general silliness but, this is precisely why kids love them! My 6-year-old son was hooked from the first book and the series is credited with getting a lot of children off screens and into reading. As the author says, “As grown-ups, we need to respect our children’s rights to choose what they want to read. Kids who have fun reading are making a connection in their brains that reading is valuable and rewarding.”
Father Christmas Needs A Wee!
By: Nicholas Allan
Guaranteed to make kids giggle is this book, Father Christmas Needs A Wee!, that both my two children love. Santa eats and drinks too much as he goes around delivering presents until he is desperate to find a toilet! It’s a great one for younger kids to help with counting and rhyming (and maybe even potty training?!) but equally hilarious for older children.
Minecrafters: Treasure Hunters in Trouble
By: Winter Morgan
Another great book to get kids off screens this Xmas is one about the popular computer game, Minecraft. Ok, so the subject matter is still related to screens but if that’s what it takes to get kids reading then so be it. I’ll be honest in that I’ve never been a fan of these kinds of computer games as I find that kids get so addicted to them. I’ll let them play it in their friends’ houses but I ban it at home! So when my son picked out Minecraftersat his school fair I was dubious. I didn’t think he’d actually read it as it doesn’t contain pictures, but it keep him quiet for hours! He has since read and enjoyed other editions in the Winter Morgan’s series too.
The Polar Express
By: Chris Van Allsburg
This is such a lovely book, one that beautifully captures the wonder of childhood and the magic of Christmas. A young boy boards a mysterious train on Christmas Eve and heads to the North Pole where he meets Santa and receives a very special gift. The Polar Express is a wonderful holiday present for children – and a delight for parents to read. Recommended by both my children.
The Magic Finger
By: Roald Dahl
My daughter’s teacher read the BFG to her class, which she loved, and we’ve recently picked up The Magic Finger. My 8-year-old finds it “very funny” and wishes that she, like the little girl in the story, had the power to change her teacher into a cat.
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates
By Liz Pichon
I was recommended this book when I visited Waterstones in Winchester, U.K and both my children love it. So much so that we’ve already downloaded the remaining eight books in the series to the Kindle. The books are the journals of Tom Gates, a ‘master of excuses, expert doodler, comic story writer extraordinaire – and the bane of his grumpy teacher’.
As Recommended by Katja’s Children
One Dog and His Boy
By: Eva Ibbotson
My 8-year-old son was given One Dog and His Boy by his granny and we all loved it. It tells the really sweet tale of a young boy who is desperate for a dog. His wealthy parents are generous with gifts but not with their time and can’t think of anything worse than having a four-legged creature in their house, so they rent a dog for the weekend. What follows is a really heart-warming adventure about friendship, loyalty and how money can’t buy everything.
By: Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinkski
Maps is a favourite in our household. The 52 maps are beautifully illustrated and as well as showing cities and rivers and mountains, they also show native animals and plants, local foods and the typical names of boys and girls in that country. It’s a wonderful way to travel the world without ever leaving home. The accompanying Maps Activity Book is also great and has kept my 8-year-old occupied for hours.
The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark
By: Jill Tomlinson and Paul Howards
My almost six-year-old was given The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark and it quickly became our bedtime favourite. It tells the story of Plop, the baby barn owl, who doesn’t want to be a night bird. The story of how he overcomes his fear of the dark – and how he learns to fly – is absolutely charming. Jill Tomlinson has written other animal books including Hilda: The Hen Who Wouldn’t Give Up, The Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up and The Penguin Who Wanted to Find Out, which we have also read and enjoyed. But Plop the Barn Owl is still our favourite.
The Secret Seven
By: Enid Blyton
I grew up reading Enid Blyton’s books and so I’m really enjoying re-reading them with my kids. The Secret Seven are a group of super-sleuth children who go on regular adventures to solve mysteries. These stories have all the elements of a perfect kids’ adventure book; secret passwords, disguises and children regularly outsmarting adults! My kids are hooked.
The Day The Crayons Quit
By: Drew Daywait and Oliver Jeffers
I bought The Day the Crayons Quit recently on the recommendation of a friend and even though it initially appears to be a book for younger children, the humour means that it will appeal to older kids too; my eldest two (nearly six and eight) both really enjoy it. The story centres on a stack of letters written to a young boy Duncan from his crayons. Blue complains he’s been used too much, Beige hates being called ‘beige’, Green is happy in his work and Orange and Yellow are no longer talking to one another. It’s a lot of fun and the ending is lovely.
Dragons Love Tacos
By: Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
Another recent addition to the bookshelf is Dragons Love Tacos, a wonderfully silly tale of how to host the perfect party for dragons. Dragons love tacos but they don’t love spicy salsa! Feed them one piece of chilli and watch what happens…. The illustrations are a lot of fun and the text easy to read. My six-year-old (who loves tacos and dressed as a dragon for Halloween!) thinks it’s hilarious.
That’s Not My Reindeer…
By: Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells
Unbeknownst to my youngest, this is what he’ll be getting in his stocking this year. We had lots of these ‘That’s Not My…’ books with my older two and they really enjoyed them. I can see us reading this one regularly for quite a while to come!
Atlas of Adventures: A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe
By: Rachel Williams & Lucy Letherland
Another wonderfully illustrated book is theAtlas of Adventures. This book follows a young boy and girl as they explore the world and experience a myriad of different adventures from sleeping under the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland and looking for treasures in The Louvre in Paris, to dancing on the deck of a steamboat along the Mississippi and floating in the Dead Sea. It’s a lovely book for inspiring young minds.
Polly and the Puffin
By: Jenny Colgan and Thomas Docherty
Another of my daughter’s favourites isPolly and the Puffin, the story of a young girl Polly who discovers an injured puffin and brings him home to her cottage by the sea. Neil the puffin and Polly quickly become best friends but eventually his wing heals and it’s time for him to leave. It’s a charming story and a great one for early readers. At the back of the book are recipes, activities and puffin-themed jokes.
By: Julia Donaldson and David Roberts
We have most of the Julia Donaldson books in our house but Tyrannosaurus Drip is our current favourite. Written with strong rhythm and rhyme, it’s a really fun book to read out loud with plenty of opportunities for silly voices. The story tells the tale of a peace-loving, vegetarian duckbill dinosaur who finds himself being raised by a family of big, scary – and rather dimwitted – Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s a story of good vs. bad and finding your place in the world.
On The Christmas Lists!
Story of Life: Evolution (Welcome to the Museum)
By: Katie Scott
My eldest has Animalarium, the first in the Welcome to the Museum series, and thinks its fantastic. Since Animalarium was published in 2014, Historium was released and then Story of Life: Evolution. All these books have incredible illustrations; everything is displayed as if you are wandering through a gallery or museum. The Story of Life starts with single-cell organisms and finishes with modern life forms; perfect for inquisitive young minds.
By: Carson Ellis
I showed Home to my eldest two and they both decided it would be perfect for their younger brother. Using few words but lots of beautiful illustrations, Carson Ellis shows all the different places in the world that can be called home. From igloos and birds nests to caravans and castles, it’s a wonderful way to introduce children to all the different places people can live – including the homes of Ellis’ imagination.
By: Emily Hughes
Wild tells the tale of a little girl who has known nothing but nature from the time she was born. Taught to talk by birds, eat by bears and play by foxes, she is truly at home in the wild. But then she goes to live in the city and can’t work out why there are no animals or trees or greenery.
Walk This World
By: Jenny Broom & Lotta Nieminen
Another beautiful book to introduce children to different countries is Walk This World, a stunning book that celebrates the similarities and differences in cultures around the world. This book came recommended to me and I have put it on the kids’ Christmas list for them! Kids can peep through French shop windows, open the door of a red telephone box in the UK and see the snow in Russia. A wonderful way to get children excited to explore the world we live in.
Beyond the Surface
By: Nicolas Andre
There are lots of children’s books that explore the magic above ground but few that venture beneath the surface. Beyond the Surface explores the world from the earth’s centre to its highest mountains and includes achievements such as the scaling of Mount Everest. It’s a concertina book so it can also be used as wall art.
Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty
By: Joy Masoff
How could kids’ resist a book that celebrates all that is gooey and gasey and gross. Covering animals, people, insects, plants, foods and more, Oh, Yuck!explains why maggots eat rotten meat, why vomit smells and why wee is cleaner than spit. Cue entertaining dinner time discussions!
My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat
By: Pamela Butchart
My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat is aimed at 7- to 10- year-olds and comes hugely recommended. Izzy and her classmates are convinced that their new headmaster is actually a vampire and do their utmost to prove this. Easy-to-read with the odd tricky word thrown in to help expand vocabularies, this is perfect for anyone who sometimes doesn’t want to go to school.
By: Emmanuelle Walker
If you hadn’t guessed already, my son is a huge animal fan so Beautiful Birds is perfect for him. Organised alphabetically, this colourful book introduces children to some of the world’s most beautiful birds from albatrosses to zosteropidae (nope, I’d never heard of them before either!).
Diary of a Time Traveller
By: David Long and Nicholas Stevenson
Follow along with Augustus as he travels through history meeting some of the world’s finest explorers, inventors, writers, painters, composers and leaders. Diary of a Time Traveller is a fun way to introduce children to some of history’s most famous personalities including Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, Genghis Khan and Tutankhamen.
How to be an International Spy
By: Andy Briggs, Lonely Planet Publications
My kids are obsessed with being spies at the moment – mostly because they want lots of gadgets. This latest book from Lonely Planet Kids, How to be an International Spy, tells you all you need to know about a career in international espionage, from famous spies in history to how to build your own HQ.
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