- The Dinosaur who Pooped Christmas - Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter.
If the authors sound familiar to you it's because they're from once teen-sensation, now all grown up boy band, McFly. This book was only published last month and I knew as soon as I saw it that it had a place on our bookshelf. Dinosaurs, poo and Christmas - what more could a 5 year old boy want from a story? It's engaging and funny, with a good rhyming pattern that makes it easy and enjoyable to read. The pictures are big and colourful and there's a lot going on in them to discuss. Probably not one to read if you're feeling weak of stomach, but I love it.
2. An Aussie Night Before Christmas - Yvonne Morrison and Kilmeny Niland
Ok, I lied. This one is not widely available in the UK, but my mum sent me a copy when my oldest boy was about 5 and it is now a favourite of my youngest at any time of year. It'll probably seem a little weird if you've never had an Aussie Christmas but because it keeps the same rhyming style as the original Night Before Christmas (which you should also have a copy of!) it will be familiar enough for them to enjoy the differences. C'mon - where else would Santa pull a ute instead of a sleigh, and use 'roos instead of reindeer?
3. Mr Christmas - Roger Hargreaves
I love the Mr Men and it's always been a point of disappointment for me that my kids are not the fans I am. I love the language, the joy of every picture, and the feelgood factor of the stories. Mr Christmas doesn't fail to deliver. It's all about helping out to make others happy with plenty of Mr Men nonsense and familiar characters. Short enough to read in a few minutes but long enough not to feel like a baby book, and small enough for your handbag it's a good one to read when you're waiting at the dentist (or something) or before bed.
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr Seuss
I love reading Dr Seuss books. Their rhyming and cadence is fun to read and enjoyable to listen to. We have as much fun with the words as we do with the story and pictures. This book was first published in 1957 and I can't find that it has ever gone out of print. It has a great story along the lines of A Christmas Carol, about a cold hearted, greedy creature who wants to take all the pressies and pleasure of Christmas from the Whos only to see the error of his ways, yadda yadda. The pictures are full of character and perfectly match the story.
5. The Chrismtmas Story - Ian Beck
This one rounds out my list of the best Christmas books for children because I think it's important to balance the commercial aspect of Christmas with a little history. I looked for a book that wasn't OTT religious but which talks about the story behind Christmas. I can't help giving them a bit of a history lesson along with it (Romans, persecution, pagan solstice celebrations, different religions) but the simplicity of the story and the lovely pictures make it a gentle bedtime story that calms rather than excites with tales of Santa and presents.
What Christmas books do you read with your children? And do you read them all year around, or only get them out in December? Let me know with a comment because with a kid who likes three stories a night you can understand that I'm always looking for new stories.