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Festive Reads for Children

The countdown to Christmas has begun: which means that this is the perfect time to get into the yuletide spirit and delve into a seasonal book or two!

Whatever stage of the 11 plus journey you’re at, reading is the best at home preparation you can do with your child. Here are some of our favourite festive reads for children:

Festive Reads for Children, #1: The Snowman

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’ classic – and much loved – picture book The Snowman, celebrated children’s author Michael Morpurgo has written a new chapter book based on the famous story.

The Snowman’s original incarnation was so vivid that it’s easy to forget it was wordless – pictures alone told the story that we all know and love today. Morpurgo’s take fleshes out the recognisable tale, giving new life to characters like James, the hero (who in this version has a stammer and finds it hard to make friends) and Grandma, whilst making sure to include iconic moments from the original: with awe-inspiring flying adventures, Father Christmas, and more. A wonderful, nostalgic read for both parents and children to enjoy together.

books piled up in front of a christmas tree

Festive Reads for Children, #2: Hetty Feather’s Christmas

The first Hetty Feather book, which was published in 2009, represented Jacqueline Wilson’s first foray into historical fiction. It followed the journey of infant Hetty, who was abandoned by her mother as a baby and left at London’s Foundling Hospital during the 1870s.

Now the much loved Victorian foundling is back in her very own festive tale: Hetty Feather’s Christmas. In this delightful Christmas-themed book, Hetty faces off against her arch nemesis at the Foundling Hospital, Matron Bottomly, who is looking for any excuse to exclude Hetty from the seasonal celebrations. Fortunately, just when Hetty fears all is lost, an old friend arrives to save the day.

Another wonderful treat from former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson, brilliantly complemented by Nick Sharratt’s characterful illustrations.

Festive Reads for Children, #3: A Boy Called Christmas

Deemed an ‘instant Christmas classic’ by The Guardian, Matt Haig’s contemporary Christmas tale would be a great stocking filler for any young bookworm. It tells the story of Nikolas, a boy who is nicknamed Christmas because he was born on (you guessed it) Christmas Day.

However, despite his festive moniker, little Nikolas has a hard life: and though he knows the difference between ‘naughty and nice’, good things just don’t seem to happen to him. But that all changes one day when he meets a reindeer called Blitzen; a momentous event that sets him on an epic adventure which will change his life forever.

Matt Haig’s beautiful book is full of magical creatures, fantastical occurrences, and plenty of festive cheer. A heartwarming must-read.

Festive Reads for Children, #4: The Dog that Saved Christmas

Not all Christmas stories need to be filled with flying reindeer, dancing snowpeople, or magic in order to make an impact. Sometimes the most touching tales are those that are full of everyday moments.

The Dog that Saved Christmas is one of those tales. Focusing on Jake, a boy on the autistic spectrum, it shows how Christmas can be daunting rather than magical for certain individuals, and deals with the difficulties experienced by Jake with tact and care whilst telling a thoroughly engaging story. Jake isn’t like other children who are giddy at the thought of Christmas: by contrast, he loathes the noise, the bright lights, and the disruption to routine, and these sensations make him feel anxious and alone. But when he meets a lost dog who seems similarly overwhelmed by the festive traditions, he finds a new purpose – and in trying to make her feel safe, he begins to feel safe himself.

An unusual – yet affecting – Christmas story with powerful black-and-white illustrations.

Festive Reads for Children, #5: The Nights Before Christmas

With so many great standalone books to choose from, we’d rarely think of diving into an anthology – but The Nights Before Christmas is something special.

This compendium of Christmas literature features a poem, story, excerpt or carol for each of the 24 nights of advent, and includes extracts from timeless classics like Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) and the Selfish Giant (Oscar Wilde). Not only does this book (beautifully illustrated by Tony Ross) offer parents a great method by which to introduce traditional literature to their children, but also it captures the delights of this special time of year in a nostalgic and moving way. A welcome escape from the consumer-driven aspects of the season and a perfect reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.

On behalf of the whole team here at Mentor, please let us take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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