Tuesday, 10 December 2013

#Christmas - the books

Another of our favourite seasonal traditions is retrieving the bag of Christmas books from the loft. They come down for a few weeks but go back up under the eaves with the Christmas decorations come twelfth night. Strictly speaking we are all too old for picture books now, but that doesn't stop us all, (45 year olds included), from enjoying the old favourites as much as the more grown up books that are starting to creep into our festive collection.

In no particular order here are our current top ten (if you are interested in getting hold of any of the books you can click on the title for a link to purchasing the book, cheaply where possible from Green Metropolis or eBay, or as a last resort, Amazon):


Father Christmas Raymond Briggs. Illustrations only, with a few speech bubbles, this book is takes the form of a comic strip. We love this grumpy Father Christmas! "Blooming Christmas here again!"

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The Jolly Christmas Postman Janet and Allan Ahlberg. The jolly postman visits various fairytale characters at Christmas delivering letters and goodies which are included in the book, so there are all sorts of puzzles and mini books and a beautiful unfolding peep-show, which makes this a truly interactive book. The text takes the form of rhyming verse. 

Christmas Farmyard Tales Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. Not my favourite book but my kids have always loved lifting all the flaps and hunting for Ginger the kitten who hides on each page.


Lucy and Tom's Christmas Shirley Hughes. I'm a huge Shirley Hughes fan, and adore this book which allows us to accompany Lucy and Tom as they prepare for Christmas. I love the part at the end of Christmas day where Tom has got rather excited and cross and he and Grandpa go for a walk together "just the two of them", as the sun goes down, to calm down.

Barefoot Books come into their own where festivals from all cultures are concerned. The following three books are all published by Barefoot:

The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, A Mexican Christmas story by Joanne Oppenheim, is " a miracle story that reminds us of the true spirit of giving".



While the Bear Sleeps Caitlin Matthews. Winter Tales and Traditions. I have learnt much from this book which takes the reader around the world telling traditional stories and providing information about winter customs. Beautifully illustrated.

Babushka Sandra Ann Horn. A retelling of the traditional Babushka tale.


A Child's Christmas in Wales Dylan Thomas. "Dylan Thomas's magical account of his own childhood and a Christmas Day in a small Welsh town is vividly brought to life by Edward Ardizonne's wonderful illustrations". This is one book in our collection that I would like to upgrade one day to a larger hardback version, in order to enjoy the illustrations even more. As you'd imagine the writing and description of Christmas is poetic and evocative. Who can forget the section on Christmas day where, "The dog was sick. Aunt Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Aunt Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush."

9780140307993

The Dark is Rising Susan Cooper. Sue on the Quince Tree blog was listening to the audio book version of this last Christmas, so when I spotted the paperbook in a charity shop earlier this year I snapped it up. We are reading this Puffin classic aloud at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it (even though I for one, am not a great lover of the fantasy genre) - very wintry and an exciting story.

A Christmas Memory Truman Capote. Another blog recommendation from last year, although I can't remember where from. Short and sweet - a good read.

How about you? Any favourite Christmas reads?

15 comments:

  1. I could never read the Shirley Hughes Christmas book without tears flowing! Love her books

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    1. We've read it over and over again and always find some new detail that we hadn't noticed before.

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  2. My favorite Christmas book is Louisa May Alcott's Christmas Treasury. I read it every winter.

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    1. I loved the Little Women books so I'm sure I'd enjoy this one. I'll look out for it.

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  3. I don't have a favorite Christmas book, but I do love "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

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    1. I'd love this too; I looked for it last year but wasn't sure that the DVD version I found would play on UK DVD players.

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  4. Aww! Those first three brought back some memories of when my daughters were young. I adore Shirley Hughes too - lovely stories and illustrations. What a great idea to keep them! Ours are long gone...

    Jane
    http://shoestringcottage.wordpress.com

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    1. I'm not very good at getting rid of books and would find it hard to part with Shirley Hughes!

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  5. We have the same tradition, and the girls still love the old picture books. We love the Shriley Hughes one, and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs (we also have the movie, which is excellent). We also love the The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a short novel about the delinquent Herdman children and the nativity play. It is fall about funny.

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    1. Love the Father Christmas movie too. Thanks for the recommendation for the Pageant book.

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  6. We do the same- the children really look forward to getting the Christmas books down.
    We love the Christmas Postman and the Christmas Farmyard Tales. All 3 of my children could recite that first page from all the Apple Tree Farm books before they could read :-) I love Shirley Hughes but don't have that one.

    Eldest daughter liked Laura's Star when she was younger, so we have Laura's Christmas Star (Klaus Baumgart). She was also bought A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith, which I love. It's about the foal of the donkey Mary rode to Bethlehem on and has the most beautiful illustrations.
    Graham Oakley's Church Mice books have been very popular with my son especially (Our kittens were called Humphrey and Arthur until they went to the vet and came back renamed Elsie and Martha...) so The Church Mice at Christmas is on the shelf.
    Youngest daughter's current favourite is Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren.
    I have fond memories of reading Jan Fearnley's Little Robin Red Vest and I also really like The Fourth King by Ted Seiger.

    Long list, but we always read The Night Before Christmas (guess when?!) and the youngest two make a point of reading Richard Scarry's The Night Before the Night Before Christmas on the 23rd!

    I've got some great ideas for some new books from the post and comments, thanks!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to list your favourites! Some great reads there!

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  7. We have the first 3 books and I'm keeping them for future little ones. Thanks for reminding me about the Dylan Thomas book - might see if I can get that in time for this Xmas.

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    1. Hold on to your Christmas books and good luck with finding Dylan Thomas!

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  8. Oh I am glad you are enjoying The Dark is Rising :-)

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