Gift Guide: A book for every child this Christmas

Parents have been delightedly reporting that this year their children have been reading more than they usually do. According to a survey by The Literacy Trust children’s enjoyment of reading increased during lockdown, having reached a 15 year low before lockdown.

We know that not every child is a willing reader, but as Waterstones UK Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell said during our Reading is Magic digital festival, if you find something a child is interested in they will read about it. It might not be fiction, it might be an illustrated book, but somewhere out there there is a book for every child this Christmas. The age guides are approximate as we all read at different levels.

The Wizards of Once: Never and Forever written and illustrated by Cressida Cowell
(Hodder Children’s Books, hardback) 9-11 years

The final book in the magical and beautifully illustrated, The Wizards of Once series from the author of How to Train Your Dragon. Xar and Wish have found the ingredients for the Spell-to-get-rid-of-Witches. Now the Kingwitch is calling them to the lake of the lost. But first they must mix the potion in the Cup of Second Chances… Can Xar and Wish unite their worlds in time to save the Wildwoods from the reign of Witches?

Future Friend by David Baddiel, illustrated by Steven Lenton
(Harper Collins Children’s Books, hardback) 8-13 years

Future Friend is an entertaining time-slip adventure that combines action, humour and the importance of friendship, in a story that asks the question – what would happen if your best friend came from the future? Illustrated by Steven Lenton who was a guest at this year’s Reading is Magic Festival.

Draw with Rob at Christmas by Rob Biddulph
(Harper Collins Children’s Books, paperback) 3-103 years

The internet phenomenon #DrawWithRob is now a fantastically festive art activity book for you to draw with Rob at home. Creative genius and bestselling author Rob Biddulph brings joy with his easy to follow instructions and warm-hearted humour – learn to draw Christmas characters from polar bears to elves and from Father Christmas to a snowman. The book comes with perforated pages for easy tear out and display.

The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
(Macmillan, hardback) 3-6 years

From the creators of Detective Dog, Bath Children’s Literature Festival favourite Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie, The Hospital Dog is a big-hearted rhyming tale about a very special, brave dog. Dot loves visiting the children of Wallaby Ward and they’re always pleased to see her too; from a crying baby to a bored teenager – a pat, a stroke and a cuddle with Dot cheers everyone up.

Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love
(Walker, hardback) 3-6 years

“A wedding is a party for love” is the message of this gorgeous book. The star of Julian Is a Mermaid makes a joyful return – and finds a new friend – at a wedding to be remembered. Two beautiful brides, lots of fun and pages full of love and acceptance.

Poems Aloud: An anthology of poems to read out loud by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett
(Wide Eyed Editions, hardback) 5-10 years

A wittily illustrated anthology of poems, designed to be read aloud. Perfect for confident children and shy readers alike, this book teaches all sorts of clever ways to perform poetry. Learn 20 techniques for reading aloud by trying out 20 funny and thoughtful original poems by the much-loved and award-winning performance poet, Joseph Coelho. There are tongue twisters, poems to project, poems to whisper, poems to make you laugh.

The Twelve Days of Christmas or Grandma is Overly Generous by Alex T Smith
(Macmillan, hardback) 5-10 years
A gorgeously illustrated Christmas classic re-written and illustrated by the creator of the Claude series and How Winston Delivered Christmas, Alex T. Smith. Grandma’s presents may start off sensible – a partridge is easy enough to take care of – but her generosity soon gets out of hand.

The Puffin Book of Big Dreams
(Puffin, hardback) 5-11 years

Stories to spark your imagination in this collection of stories, poems and illustrations. Featuring extracts from family favourites and fresh stories from new authors this is the perfect present to delve into this Christmas. Humza Arshad, Jeff Kinney, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, Sophy Henn, Jamie Littler and Nadia Shireen are just some of the authors and illustrators included. Discover the BIG dreams of some inspiring leaders, scientists and actors, too.

The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo illustrated by Robin Shaw
(Puffin, paperback) 7-11 years

Bath Children’s Literature Festival favourite Michael Morpurgo’s charming re-imagining of Raymond Briggs’ classic tale of a little boy’s snowman who comes to life on Christmas Eve. With magical illustration, it’s an ideal Christmas story for the whole family.

Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It, Give It by Rashmi Sirdeshpande, illustrated by Adam Hayes
(Wren & Rook, paperback) 7-11 years

Christmas is a time when children are often given money and this book is a good accompaniment. Having some dosh in your pocket can be exciting. And when it’s used as a force for good, those pennies have the power to change the world. Children’s author and former lawyer, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, is here to help you discover what money is, why it matters, how to spend it and ways to make more of it in this fun and brilliant guide.

The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain edited by Katherine Rundell

8-12 years

An anthology on the theme of hope, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the best children’s authors and illustrators. There are 133 contributions including Anthony Horowitz, Axel Scheffler, Catherine Johnson, Jacqueline Wilson, Katherine Rundell, Lauren Child, Michael Morpurgo and Onjali Q. Raúf. A donation from the sale of each book will go to NHS Charities Together, in gratitude for the efforts of all those who worked in hospitals during the pandemic.

The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange
(paperback, Chicken House) 10+

Christmas is a time to curl up with a thrilling ghost story and what better than this classic gothic tale from Frome-based publisher Chicken House? It’s 1899, the Earl is dead and cruel Cousin Clarence has inherited everything. Twelve-year-old Lady Agatha Asquith is cast out of Gosswater Hall to live in a tumbledown cottage with a stranger who claims to be her father. Aggie is determined to discover her real identity, but she is not alone in her quest for the truth. On the last day of the year, when the clock strikes midnight, a mysterious girl of light creeps through the crack in time; she will not rest until the dark, terrible secrets of the past have been revealed …

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls
(Andersen, hardback) 12+

A bittersweet and captivating historical novel set in a Yorkshire village at Christmas time in1919.  Seventeen-year-old Margot is the vicar’s daughter besotted with fiancé Harry. When Harry is reported missing on the Western Front Margot discovers she is pregnant with his child. Secrets and lies follow as baby James is adopted by Margot’s parents and brought up as her brother. Two years later the family is gathering at the vicarage for Christmas and Harry returns, released from captivity in Germany, and is confused and betrayed at Margot’s estrangement.

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty
(Milkweed Editions, hardback) 12+

A memoir about loving the natural world and fighting to save it. Dara McAnulty is a globally renowned figure in the youth climate activist movement. Diary of a Young Naturalist captures his perspective as a teenager juggling exams, friendships and campaigning. We see his close-knit family, the disruptions of moving and changing schools, and the complexities of living with autism.

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle
(Andersen, hardback) 12+

From the winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award comes a gripping true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica set in 1760. The only life 14 year old Moa has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation, fearing the whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . .

You can order any of the above from your local bookshop, or try uk.bookshop.org . Every sale from this website supports independent bookshops which belong to the network. This includes Mr B’s Emporium in Bath and The Corsham Bookshop in Corsham.

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