Hello my friends. Ed Elf at your service. Before I fall asleep, I like to get really cosy in my bed. The lamplight shines. My blankets are toasty warm. You know the thing…I’m basically all snugly wugly as a bugly in a rugly. And then I like to read. There’s only one thing better, in fact – and that’s being read to. Oh the joy of storybooks. Christmas has some of the best.
“The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
First of all, please read this classic book in full when you get chance. But at Christmastime, make sure you read the bit about Mole’s Christmas. You’ll be happy you did. Mole and his friend Rat are tired trudging through the snow on Christmas Eve when they suddenly arrive at Mole’s old house. They clean and prepare the dusty Mole End for Christmas and prepare a feast of sardines, sausage and beer. Young field mice carollers are heard singing outside the front door and are invited to join them – making it a happy Christmas all round.
That’s a tricky name to say, isn’t? But if you split it up it’s easier. Mor-pur-go. Easy! And you should know his name ‘cos he’s the former children’s laureate – basically the top dog in kids’ books. This story starts with a letter in a desk and takes in a moving tale from World War One. Don’t fear. It isn’t frightening or too sad. It is rather brilliant actually.
“The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Emma Thompson
This is based on the original tales of Beatrix Potter and yes, this is the Emma Thompson of Nanny McPhee fame. Peter Rabbit is an adorable character and it’s great that the lovely Emma Thompson has managed to keep his stories alive for us all to enjoy. She’s very clever. I love her! In this story, Mrs. Rabbit sends Peter on an errand and he bumps into his cousin Benjamin. They encounter a turkey named William and discover he is unaware the purpose turkeys serve at Christmas. Can they save him?
“The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen
This is a sad story, but it is an important one to remind us just how lucky we are. On a cold New Year’s Eve, a peasant girl is selling matches in the street but has to light some of them to warm her. In the light of the matches she sees visions of Christmas food and a festive tree. She eventually gives in to the cold and her soul is carried to heaven by her grandmother. I want to cry just thinking about it.
“The Snowman” by Raymond Briggs
This is a picture book. No words needed. A young boy sees his snowman come to life and together they share a magical adventure. The clever Mr. Briggs did the illustrations using only pencil crayons. And it was so flipping good, it got made into a cartoon. Brilliant!
Here’s another clever man. Chris Van Allsburg both wrote and illustrated this book, which is about a boy and his journey on a special train to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. There’s a wonderful gift for one special child. Ting-a-ling! Do you hear that? Then you must be a believer. This was made into a film, but read the book too. Please do!
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss
I sense a bit of a theme developing here because Dr. Seuss wrote this book and illustrated it, too. And this was also made into a cartoon. I’ve worked it out. A great book will get the movie treatment – it’s a no-brainer. The Grinch wants to prevent Christmas from arriving in the town of Whoville, whose cheerful folk make him sick to the stomach. Just when the mean old Grinch thinks he’s stolen every last bit of the holiday season from them, he hears singing and has to admit defeat. By the way, Max the dog is mega.
“The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas” by John Barrett
This is sweet. While other bears are hibernating, Ted E. Bear is as curious as ever and decides discovering Christmas is preferable to sleep. He believes Christmas is a place of enchanting music and gifts – but he finds it is not a town or city, but a feeling full of love and generosity. Can he stay awake, though? That’s the big question.
“One Snowy Night” by Nick Butterworth
This is a wintry tale from Percy’s Park. It’s snowing hard – and all the animals need a bed. But is there a bed big enough for them all? How will they get through the night? Ha, ha! I’ve teased you. Now you have to read it to see what happens.
The title had me laughing before I’d even read a word inside the book. And I kept on laughing when I started reading. It’ll help any really young ones among you with counting and rhyming – but has enough in it to make even grown ups chuckle. If you like this book, then the same writer has another book you might enjoy called “Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps!” I smell something in the wind.
“The Dinosaur Who Pooped Christmas” by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter
Why are all things about poo and bums so funny? Well, get ready to hold onto your sides because this book is gonna make you guffaw with laughter. Do you know the pop group McFly? Two of them teamed up to write this. Really! The rhymes are funny, like: “Now reader BEWARE the next part is scary. And if you read on you’ll need new underweary.” That’s something to do with Mum, Dad and Gran being eaten up whole. But don’t worry, no one gets hurt. In fact, the chuckles come thick and fast. Great illustrations by Garry Parsons. I know grown-ups who love this book.
“The Gruffalo’s Child” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
One of the best of books is “The Gruffalo”. I love it. But if it’s at all possible, I think I love “The Gruffalo’s Child” even more. There is snow all around in this book, so maybe that’s why. It isn’t about Christmas but feels very Christmassy to me. The Gruffalo says that no gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood for fear of the big bad mouse. But one wild and windy night, the Gruffalo’s Child tiptoes out to discover if the mouse even exists.
“The Tailor of Gloucester” by Beatrix Potter
This tells the story of a tailor whose work on a waistcoat for the mayor’s Christmas Day wedding is completed by mice when the tailor falls ill. This is their way of saying thank you after he rescues them from his cat. The wonderful Beatrix Potter both wrote and illustrated her books.
This charming picture book, with illustrations by Michael Foster, is intended to inform you of the true meaning of Christmas through different stories from a collection of characters who were present at the birth of Jesus. There are nine tales in all from a donkey, a cow, a sheep, a shepherd, an angel, a camel, the wise men, Joseph and baby Jesus. Why not read one story a day in the nine days before Christmas.
“Eloise at Christmastime” by Kay Thompson
Eloise is a six-year-old girl who lives on the top floor of the Plaza Hotel in New York City with her nanny, her dog and her turtle. She loves the festive season so much she scrawls ‘Merry Christmas’ on the walls of the Plaza. Naughty girl! Thankfully for Eloise, she does not believe Santa only gives presents to good children.
“Mog’s Christmas” by Judith Kerr
Judith Kerr, who brought us “The Tiger Who Came to Tea”, both wrote and illustrated this storybook in which we get to meet the adorable cat Mog. Strange things are happening at Mog’s house and her only way of dealing with all the commotion is to flee to the roof. Mog can’t work out that Christmas is the cause of the fuss. Then she does a fine impression of Father Christmas and all is well.
“Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Stories” with Illustrations by Andrew Grey
Winnie-the-Pooh and friends like an adventure or two – and perhaps even more so at Christmas. In this brilliant book they take to building a house in the snow, get mysterious Christmas letters and so much more. We love Pooh Bear.
This simple but touching story is about a parent polar bear and its child and, although it isn’t set at Christmas, it is full of snow and great pictures of a festive feel. Emma Dodd is really very clever. I know Mums and Dads who have cried reading this because it is about the never ending love for a child. Tissue anyone?
“Stick Man” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Julia and Axel strike again. Having encountered a playful dog hoping for a game of fetch, Stick Man finds himself in a runaway adventure that takes him far from home. He has to show determination and courage to return to his family in time for Christmas, but has the help of a surprising friend. Gotta love it.
“The Christmasaurus” by Tom Fletcher
A Christmas dinosaur: how cool is that? A boy named William Trundle meets the Christmasaurus on Christmas Eve and they have a magical adventure. Santa, reindeer and singing elves make an appearance. Yes, singing elves. Tom Fletcher is from the pop band McFly and also co-wrote the ‘Dinosaur That Pooped’ series.
“The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real” by Margery Williams
The velveteen rabbit is stuffed in the top of a boy’s stocking on Christmas morning. At first, the gift delights him but is soon forgotten. However, it is later rediscovered and the boy now loves his rabbit so much, even when it becomes shabby. There is a legend that if a toy is loved, REALLY loved, it might one day become real. Could this happen to the velveteen rabbit?
“Ten Little Elves” by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty
Ten little elves set off on a mission to rescue Christmas. Find out what the elves do when they meet a growling polar bear, a yowling yeti and a fearsome Ice Queen. Count from ten to one, and back again, with this festive rhyming romp from the clever creators of “Ten Little Pirates”.
Elf Helper: Last but not least. In fact, I’ve saved the best for last. This is a story that makes Christmas possible in the first place: The Nativity Story. There are so many Nativity books out there for children. You pick the one that you like best – that tells the story in the best way, with the best pictures. You will love it and read it year after year. You might also stage a Nativity play at your school, so it will be good to know the story well ahead of time. One Nativity book I like very much is simply entitled “Christmas” and was created by Dick Bruna. He’s the man who brought us the white rabbit Miffy.