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Top 20 children's books for Christmas

17 December 2012

Amid the mad flurry over Christmas present-buying, it’s easy to forget there’s always one gift guaranteed to delight kids well beyond the festive season – a good book.

So here’s our round-up of the 20 best Christmas-themed tomes for little ones:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Ever since it was first published in 1957 this quirky classic has been a firm childhood favourite. It tells the tale of the grouchy cave-dwelling Grinch who hates Christmas – but who grows to realise it’s not all about presents, after all. Age 5+

[Related gallery: Top 10 recipe books for Christmas]

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter (Warne)

The tale of a poor tailor, his mog and the mice that live in his shop has a jolly Christmas twist… Age 3+

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (Puffin)

It wouldn’t be Christmas without The Snowman and the original picture book is every bit as enchanting as the film. First published in 1978, it tells the story of a little boy and the snowman who comes to life. Age 3+

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs (Puffin)

One for slightly older kids, this delightful Briggs graphic novel precedes The Snowman (it was published in 1973) and portrays Santa as a grumbling old man who complains about everything (“bloomin’ Christmas”). Age 5+

The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis (Puffin)

The Love Actually screenwriter has penned a funny and touching tale of what happens when Santa has to get tough with a child who has been naughty all year. Age 3+

[Related: How to cook the perfect Christmas dinner]

Horrid Henry’s Christmas Presents by Francesca Simon (Orion Childrens)

Horrid Henry has a cunning plan for his family’s Christmas pressies – who says he has to buy them at all? Age 5+

A Christmas Journey by Brian Wildsmith (OUP Oxford)

A gentle take on the Nativity, vividly illustrated, where we travel with Mary and Joseph’s cat and dog to the manger in Bethlehem, aided by a flock of helpful sheep. Age 6+

Another Night Before Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy (Picador)

A warm and witty 21st century retelling of Clement Moore’s Victorian classic Twas the Night Before Christmas by Britain’s poet laureate. Age 7+

The Little Reindeer by Michael Foreman (Andersen)

The littlest reindeer is exploring Santa’s workshop when he accidentally falls into the gift wrapping machine and finds himself delivered as a present… Illustrated in ‘glowing’ watercolour. Age 4+

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg (Puffin)

Rhyming verses and glorious illustrations in this book that allows young readers to peep in envelopes and discover the gifts and cards tucked away for familiar characters from Humpty Dumpty to the eponymous postman. Age 3+

Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Everyone’s favourite forgetful cat is disconcerted by the unusual bumps and goings-on of Christmas – so she takes shelter on the roof… for a while. From the author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Age 2+

The Best Christmas Present in the World Michael Morpurgo (Egmont Books)

A letter found in an antique desk brings one WWI soldier’s experience hauntingly to life. A heart-warming and spine-tingling tale from the writer of War Horse. Age 7+

The Snow Womble by Elizabeth Beresford (Bloomsbury Childrens)

Snow has arrived on Wimbledon Common and the young Wombles can’t wait to have fun… A jolly new picture book from the quirky characters’ original creator. Age 3+

Happy Christmas Maisy by Lucy Cousins (Walker)

Maisy mouse is preparing for the festive season – this pull the tabs and lift the flaps book explores everything from present-wrapping to cake-making and putting up the Christmas tree. Age 2+

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoone (Bloomsbury Childrens)

A brightly illustrated picture book about a penguin who finds a chilly little pine cone in the snow. Age 2+

My Little Book of Christmas Activity Book (Bloomsbury Activity Books)

The perfect stocking filler, crammed with doodles, designs, puzzles, colouring-in and 100 lovely stickers. Age 4+

Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan (Random House)

“Father Christmas needs a wee, he’s been drinking since half past three…” Does Santa get to relieve himself? A “brilliant and funny” counting book from author/illustrator Nicholas Allan. Age 3+

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter (Random House)

Penned by two of the boys from McFly (really) this irreverent tome tells the tale of a boy who gets a dinosaur for Christmas – which then goes on an unstoppable festive eating rampage until the whole of Christmas is gone. Named Mumsnet Book of the Month for December 2012. Age 3+

Horrible Christmas by Terry Deary (Scholastic Hippo)

One from the Horrible Histories stable, this story supplies all the festive facts you’ll ever need to know – and plenty you won’t. Age 6+

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen)

Now a feature film, this 1985 Christmas book is a Yuletide classic. A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a young boy to the North Pole…Age 4+

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