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Classic Christmas Reads for Grandchildren 

One of the best things about Christmas is its ability to bring all the age groups in the family together. The kids are off school; grandma and grandpa have come to stay. So mum and dad get a rest from their normal duties and it’s the grandparents turn to read a bedtime story, or help grandson and grand-daughter get involved in an appropriate book.

Reading with children is rewarding for grandparent and grandchild alike – and at Christmas time, you can take the opportunity to revisit some of the classic reads you loved yourself when you were young. Some (The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs, in our family) have become traditions, read every year without fail. I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol every festive season too, just for myself – though you could easily read that with the grandchildren as well.

A classic children’s Christmas read doesn’t have to be specifically a children’s book – and it doesn’t have to be exclusively light and frothy either. Kids love a good scare. Some of the best-loved Christmas tales have an element of darkness as well as wonder – for example, John Masefield’s extraordinary The Box of Delights, whose terrifying Abner Brown is every bit as spooky as the White Witch from the Narnia books. Incidentally, C.S Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is another Christmas classic, replete with all the necessary ingredients: lashings of snow; a magical kingdom; and of course a group of children uncovering a world of wonders.

Obviously the age of your grandchildren will make some difference to the books you pick. Smaller children will love most versions of The Night Before Christmas, which you can buy as a large format picture book from any decent bookshop. The already-mentioned Snowman is ideal for littlies too, as it’s completely free of words: though very young children may find the ending quite distressing. Raymond Briggs also wrote two books about Father Christmas himself: an eponymous Christmas title and a companion volume called Father Christmas Goes on Holiday. 

Younger grandkids will love Eric Carle’s Dream Snow too – a delightful little story about the power of Christmas magic. Eric Carle is probably more famous as the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar – little fans of that cautionary tale will recognise the same bright illustrative style.

No list of top Christmas books for children is complete without How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr Seuss’ trademark wit and invention run wild in this wonderful tale of Christmas in Whoville; in which the small-hearted Grinch steals the season on the night before the big day. Like A Christmas Carol, the story of the Grinch uses a curmudgeonly old character to illustrate what’s really important about the Christmas message. A perfect antidote to over-excitement.

If I had to pick one Christmas tale to introduce my grandchildren to, it’d either be The Box of Delights or A Christmas Carol. OK, so I know that’s two. But when you’ve got books this good, who wants to choose?

More links for classic children’s Christmas literature:

The Children’s Books Guide – 30 of the best. – more brilliant kid’s reads.

Ask Granny – the online guide for grandparents.