Christmas Gift Guide 2015 – Brilliant festive books for kids

We have a Christmas gift-giving tradition in our family – books. Everyone gets at least one new book to read (even my husband who, although not much of a reader the rest of the year, relishes the prospect of some summer reads).

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The obvious choice at Christmas is a Christmas book!

There are dozens to choose from and each year there are new stories about Santa and his entourage, however it’s hard to go past the classics. Rod Campbell, of Dear Zoo fame, gives toddlers festive lift-the-flap fun with Dear Santa – help Santa choose the perfect gift and wait for the surprise at the end.

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Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s The Jolly Christmas Postman offers oodles of delightful surprises. Tiny envelopes and Christmas cards, little story books within the book and more are used to tell the story of the Jolly Postman’s festive deliveries. As always, the detail in Ahlberg’s illustrations is beautiful.

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The magic of Christmas is presented with humour in Raymond Brigg’s classic, Father Christmas. We find Father Christmas, dreaming of summer, but gearing up for his biggest night of the year – Christmas Eve. It’s suitable for children aged three and over. The sequel, Father Christmas Goes on Holiday, is equally as charming and quite apt for Australian audiences who do get to see Father Christmas on the beach!

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The much-loved poem by Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas, is presented in a stunning pop-up book by Robert Sabuda –white silhouettes and pop-up features are contrasted against brightly coloured pages. The paper engineering is intricate and includes everything from galloping reindeers and Santa going down chimneys to an amazing snow scene at the end.

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In The Christmas Book, Dick Bruna brings his iconic style to a simple and straightforward re-telling of the Nativity story – it’s a nice reminder given that the true ‘meaning’ of Christmas can get lost in the planning and preparation of festive activities.

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A classics line-up wouldn’t be complete without Dr. Seuss and everybody’s favourite Christmas grouch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. First published in 1957, the Grinch still hasn’t managed to take Christmas away from Whoville!

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The best thing about a Christmas book-giving tradition is that books are quiet! With the noise and excitement of Christmas Day, and the bells and whistles of new toys, a book is the perfect, quiet antidote and a festive activity book is a great way of keeping kids busy.

There are lots to choose from including themed puzzles, colouring, sticker books and more but my picks this year are The Magical Christmas colouring book by Lizzie Cullen, or the less intricate Colour Me Christmas; the always reliable Usborne 1001 Things to Spot at Christmas; and the charming Christmas Sticker Fun book from Babyology favourite, Belle & Boo. Little kids will also enjoy the Christmas Magic Painting Book – just add water for colour to magically appear.

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Finally, if you feel a little ‘festived-out’, consider making Christmas the time to give an award-winning book. In 2015, Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill won the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

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The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards are given to outstanding books in a number of categories for different age groups – this year’s winners were Go To Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson for pre-schoolers and My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald won the Picture Book category – both would make wonderful gifts.

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Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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