Even in the age of the internet, most children still enjoy receiving a book for Christmas. But it has to be the right book.
We’ve trawled best-sellers lists and libraries, as well as seeking the advice of Children’s Bookshop owner Nicola Lee, to compile our guide to the 10 top titles for youngsters this year.
As only to be expected, books with a Christmas theme always do well at this time of year.
Kirklees libraries, for example report that Happy Christmas, Spot! by Eric Hill, is their number one most-loaned book for young children. Nicola, whose shop in Lindley has an almost legendary status, says The Snowman by Raymond Briggs – out in a puppet version this year – remains a favourite with parents and grandparents.
“But any version of The Night Before Christmas also does well,” she says, “and there are quite a few new books with a Christmas theme, such as Tony Mitton’s Snow Bear.
“We also find that classics such as A Christmas Carol do well – it’s one of the more accessible Dickens books and also available in abridged versions for children.”
Harry Potter appears to be a hardy annual, appearing on all best-sellers’ lists, but this year has been joined on Amazon’s top 10 by JK Rowling’s new screenplay of Fantastic Beasts.
If you’re stuck for ideas for children with specific needs or interests, The BookTrust (booktrust.org.uk) has age-appropriate lists of everything from books for reluctant readers to dyslexia-friendly books.
Our guide includes top sellers as well as recommended reads and books for younger children are listed first. Prices are a rough guide.
Here are ten books for children this Christmas:
The Snowman, A Puppet Play Book, by Raymond Briggs
This board book includes a hand puppet to bring the now-iconic character to life and provide interactive entertainment for pre-schoolers. From £10.99.
Goodnight Farm, Touch and Feel Book, by Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Elliott
All the farm animals are going to sleep in this book to encourage very young children to do the same – with the help of lyrical text and soft textures. Recommended by Nicola at the Children’s Bookshop. Price £9.99.
Happy Christmas, Spot! by Eric Hill
The playful pup returns with a pop-up Christmas gift adventure. Who will get what? Lift the flaps to see. For under fives, price £7.99 in board book format.
The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher
Written by former McFly member and songwriter, this charming tale takes a little boy on a trip to the North Pole where he meets a dinosaur who wants to be a reindeer. For ages 5 to 8. Around £12.99 in hardback.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Ugly Truth, by Jeff Kinney
Number 4 in the Kirklees libraries most-read list and one of an entire collection of amusing musings by diary-keeper Greg. Ages 5 to 8. Expect to pay £6.99 in paperback.
A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
These modern Christmas classics are Illustrated by Yorkshire artist Chris Mould and have proved popular with Children’s Bookshop customers. For ages seven and over. A boxed set with both is around £20.
The Midnight Gang by David Walliams
Everyone is featuring this book by the well-known comedian in their best-seller’s list. It tells the tale of children in a hospital ward and their midnight adventures. Walliams is now an established author with a ever-growing back catalogue. “They’re well written,” says Nicola from the Children’s Bookshop. “He wouldn’t have lasted as an author if they weren’t.” Ages nine to 12. From £12.99 in hardback.
Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith
Recommended by Nicola and a best-seller last year in hardback. Now out in paperback, the book is inspired by the works of William Blake and graphic designer William Morris and has become a magical, modern classic. It won the Waterstones Book of the Year for 2015. For all ages. Around £8.99.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (special edition illustrated by Chris Riddell)
First children’s book to win the overall Costa Prize (in 2015), this is in effect a murder mystery for older children. The leading character’s father dies in strange circumstances and in order to discover the truth of what happened she must lie to those around her. Costs up to £12.99.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
A whole new generation is now reading the wizarding tales, including this second book from the series, still featuring in the Kirklees Libraries’ top 20. Available to buy in a fully illustrated version for younger readers, but still a lovely gift for older fans, it’s the creation of illustrator Jim Kay. The recommended price is £30.