Christmas Books: New and Old Favourites
Peace and love.
(Vikki Conley, ‘Christmas Wonder’, Affirm Press)
November is here and so we find ourselves in the Christmas Season and right now at school, I’m all about the Christmas-themed books! If you are doing a Christmas Book Advent Calendar, you will find more than enough titles here. If you are just looking to add to your own collection of Christmas books, I hope you find some that you love in this list. One of my favourite Christmas books will always remain ‘Great Joy’ by Kate DiCamillo. The beautiful and wonderful Beth Green gifted this book to PudStar for her first Christmas so it will always be extra special, as books are when they are gifted with love by someone you adore. We read this one every Christmas and I toast Beth with a glass of something nice before I read the first page (she would insist she be toasted in this way!).
Christmas Books: New and Old Favourites
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I am all about finding books that celebrate our life experiences, and so books which reflect an Australian Christmas will always be top of my list. ‘Christmas Wonder’ is brimming with uniquely Australian words and images associated with our hot (stinking hot!) Christmas season. From white cakes (pavlova), burnt sausages and carols in the park with those funny plastic candles, to shared extended family/friends lunches in the backyard complete with cracker crowns, salads and a hills hoist strung with lights…this is the Christmas many of us know and love. Conley’s rhyming text is melodic and joyful and Orsini’s illustrations are, as always, filled with gorgeous teeny details and bursting with fab colour combinations – she does a mean red and pink combo. I’ve used ‘Christmas Wonder’ for the past two weeks with Kindergarten to Year Six and all have loved pouring over the details on multiple re-readings. We’ve created our own poetic versions of Conley’s ‘Christmas Wonder’ text, adding in details unique to our own family. Such a delight to read about all the funny, quirky little details kids remember about their family Christmas – much talk of food, the beach and lots of ‘sibling squabbles’, ‘brothers pushing’ and ‘sisters screaming’…out of the mouths of babes.
Every day of December brings a delightful new Christmas tradition in this keepsake advent book. Each flap on the cover of the book reveals a clue to a festive activity that can be found inside the pages. It might be a recipe for a delicious homemade treat, instructions for a cosy craft, a game to play, a carol to sing, or a beautifully illustrated story to read with the whole family. In a moment of complete madness, I have just clicked ‘purchase now’ on this ‘Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Christmas’. I usually make a homemade ‘experiences’ advent calendar or a ‘kindness’ advent calendar (when feeling virtuous) or if I’m having a SHOCKER I buy the $3 chocolate ones from the supermarket and weep at the waste. I’m justifying this HP one by telling myself that I will buy NO OTHER Christmas decorations this year…and given I’ve never owned a Christmas tree (well not a traditional one), this should not be a problem! ‘Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Christmas’ re-creates the iconic Great Hall of Hogwarts, complete with a pop-up Christmas tree at the center. The book is also filled with removable keepsakes of iconic magical artifacts and other elements from the books and films, which can be used as ornaments to decorate the pop-up tree.
Included is a softcover booklet packed with behind-the-scenes details on the props, set designs, and special holiday moments featured throughout the books and films.
A brand-new Crayons book from Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. This hilarious interactive book has letters, games, ornaments, a poster and even a pop-up Christmas tree. ‘Tis the season for all of us to write our Christmas wish lists. But everyone knows – even the Crayons – that the best presents are the ones that you give. With real, folded letters to pull from their envelopes and read, games, press-out ornaments, a poster and a pop-up tree, this book is the perfect gift for fans of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home.
This is my top five ever Christmas publications. It is a story of diversity, tolerance, kindness, family, difference and sameness and I just love it. I have read it with Kindergarten to Year Six and had some truly magical conversations with them.
In Sarah’s house, the Bible and the Koran sit together on a shelf – two books bursting with stories…Sarah loves her two grandmas – Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. Grandmother Azar tells Sarah stories from the Holy Koran, while Grandmother Maria tells her stories from the Bible. At Christmas time, Sarah snuggles in each of her grandmothers’ laps and listens to two nativity stories about the birth of baby Jesus. They are the same in some ways, and different in others… But both can be Sarah’s favourite.
A long time ago, in a country far away, a star shone in the night sky and a baby boy was born . . .‘The First Christmas’ perfectly captures the wonder of the nativity and celebrates the Christmas spirit of giving and togetherness. Full of hope for the future and the joy of family, this is a classic picture book to share, year after year.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer feels different with his bright, shiny nose. But when Santa cant fly his sleigh through the fog, can Rudolph and his shiny nose save Christmas? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was composed by Johnny Marks in 1949 and became an instant hit. The song has been an enduring Christmas favourite ever since. Against a rural Australian setting of drought and bushfire, a little pig called Applesauce (the pig!) learns that Christmas comes from the heart. As always, Glenda Millard delivers prose that sends shivers down your spine…DIVINE.
I don’t know about your household, but in this one, I have one extremely Where’s Wally obsessed small person. Join Wally and his friends in this sensational Santa themed sticker activity book. It has 24 pages of wintry sticker-based activities (spot the differences, games, mazes, searches and much more) and six sticker sheets bursting with hundreds of stickers to complete them.
In this beautiful picture book, Australia’s most-loved children’s illustrators have chosen their favourite Nativity scene to illustrate. Featuring the work of Gaye Chapman, Bettina Guthridge, Wayne Harris, Sally Heinrich, Ann James, Stephen Michael King, Caroline Magerl, Beth Norling, Cheryl Orsini, Sally Rippin, Gregory Rogers, Judith Rossell and Anna Walker.
This classic seasonal tale of self-discovery has become one of Charles Dickens’s most famous and best-loved works. As a bedtime story, Dickens’ uplifting, magical tale of Christmas spirits transforming the life of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is wonderfully illustrated by award-winning artist Robert Ingpen. Christmas is here! Christmas is Macca’s favourite time of year. He loves thinking up amazing presents for his friends. But when he looks in his piggy bank, he finds he has no money! Macca and his best friend Al have to come up with a plan to make the best Christmas surprise for all their friends, and in doing so, discover the true spirit of giving.
There’s nothing not to love about these classic Australian hippo books by Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland and this new Christmas one is ace; There’s a hippopotamus on our roof getting ready for Christmas. And he’s excited just like me! I just love a good series and this new title has the same favourite characters from the best-selling picture book series, ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’.
Dottie is waiting for the Christmas feeling to arrive – that fizzy, excited feeling, where everything is a bit magical. But this year, Dottie, her brother, Jem, and their dog, Shortbread, are staying with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma and Grandpa are trying hard, but Christmas just isn’t the same…
A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing the Christmas spirit, and finding it again. One of my must-haves for this Christmas.
This one for me epitomises everything that Christmas should be about and is just so beautifully Australian. Highly recommended for young readers from three years+ and the grown ups in their life. ‘All I Want for Christmas is Rain’ is about Christmas, the feeling of drought and the joy of giving. Told in verse, the story is of Jane, a young girl who lives on a farm badly affected by drought. She knows there is only one thing to ask for this Christmas…rain. The illustrations are sublime and Cori Brooke and Megan Forward have really just created something beautiful together. This is a must have Christmas book.
It’s Christmas Eve and Theo – left at home with a babysitter – sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish. He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company. Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc …
Oh my glory is this book funny. Aaron Blabey just cannot put a foot wrong it seems – I still can’t read it to a class without cracking up and having to stop! I want a hippopotamus for Christmas Only a hippopotamus will do… This cute little kitten has just one wish for Christmas-she REALLY wants a hippopotamus! How will Santa get this present under the Christmas tree? He’s going to need a bigger sleigh! I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas was originally released in 1953 by 10-year-old Gayla Peevey, and was an instant hit.
‘What Do You Wish For?’ has become one of my all-time favourite Christmas books. It’s a Jane Godwin and Anna Walker creation so it was always going to be a winner really.
All the children in the street are writing down a special Christmas wish. But what is Ruby’s wish? What does she wish for at Christmas time? Ruby thinks of all the things that make Christmas special …From this much-loved creative partnership comes a sparkling and beautiful story, full of the wonder of Christmas, the magic of wishing, and the timeless dreams of a child.
Pud is particularly fond of this first one, ‘The Nights Before Christmas’ as it is one story a night for the month of December…it’s sort of a book and advent calendar rolled into one! Fully illustrated in colour throughout, The Nights Before Christmas contains 24 classic tales, songs and stories to read throughout Advent, or to keep as a family Christmas anthology.
One of my all time fav Christmas tales…the nativity told from the perspective of the animals. It’s available in board book form too….which makes it a perfect small book for the top of a book advent tree! In the stable next to an inn, Kind Ox is just settling in for the night when Old Dog comes into the stable. Kind Ox makes room for Old Dog, who in turn makes room for Stray Cat, who then makes room for Small Mouse–and each time, the larger animal says to the small, “There’s always room for a little one here.”
PudStar is loving ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ at the moment and spends every spare minute with her head in it, so she’s going to lose her mind when she sees this big tome from Enid Blyton! From Santa Claus and his helpers to a family putting up their tree, the characters in these stories embrace the Christmas spirit. There is mystery and magic, laughter and mischief, the joy of shared times and plenty of delicious food – many of the ingredients which have been delighting Enid Blyton’s readers for more than seventy years.
I miss Beth (see intro) so much but seriously, trust her to have found the perfect book to encapsulate all that Christmas stands for. I love that she inscribed this one – I get teary seeing her handwriting. It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street corner outside Frances’s apartment. Frances can see them from her window and, sometimes, when it’s quiet, she can hear their music. In fact, Frances can’t stop thinking about them, especially after she sees the man and his monkey sleeping outside on the cold street at midnight. When the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, and it’s Frances’s turn to speak, everyone waits silently. But all Frances can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes — until, just in time, she finds the perfect words to share.
Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen…perfect combination of picture book creators. Main character, Kathleen eagerly awaits the Christmas Tea and Sugar train. Will she meet Father Christmas? Will she receive a Christmas gift from him? A delightful, heart-warming story from the National Library of Australia that will intrigue, captivate and introduce readers to a slice of the past. Wonderful sensitive illustrations, including a beautiful double fold-out image showing the shops inside all the carriages.
Using text from the King James Bible and with illustrations that are enchanting and unexpected, Julie Vivas reveals the human side to Mary’s story, beautifully imagining the Angel Gabriel delivering the news to her, the exhausting journey with Joseph to Bethlehem, and at last the deliverance of the baby Jesus.
I do so love a Peter Carnavas (here) creation and this one is no exception. Mr Darcy loves Christmas. A roaring fire, falling snow, friends, hot chocolate. But what happens when Mr Collins drops by unexpectedly?
Read ‘The Perfect Present’ and hang the perfect Christmas stocking with this beautiful Billie B Brown Christmas pack. Perfect for little ones just starting out on their chapter book journey.
One of Pud’s favourites from last year! The Bell family are preparing for the best Christmas ever. There are presents to wrap, yummy food to cook and costumes to sew.
But Lulu’s friends Olivia and Jo are too sad to sing in the school concert because their little cat Bonnie is missing. Can Lulu cheer them up and help find Bonnie before Christmas Eve? Maybe a special letter to Santa will help.
A charming and nostalgic Christmas story about a much loved Little Dog who finds his way home for Christmas. Little Dog and Jonathan are best friends. They do everything together. But on Christmas Eve Little Dog finds himself lost and alone in a busy city. How will he find his way home? Can Christmas wishes come true?
‘The First Noel – A Christmas Carousel’ – Home decor and art and book – I’ve loved this mini book since I was a child and may or may not have stolen my childhood copy of it.
For some reason this book makes me all teary every time I read it – it is just SOOOOOOOOOO beautiful. Oh my GLORY Mem Fox and Kerry Argent you did a good job with this one all those years ago!
If you’re keen to start planning Christmas holiday activities here are some ideas from the past few years!