When all the shopping is done and the mince pies, carrots and sherry have been served up ready for a very special guest, Christmas Eve is the perfect time to snuggle up with the family and enjoy some seasonal stories as the clock counts down to the big day.
We asked our friends at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle’s Ouseburn to pick out a double handful of books and stories which they would recommend as being top notch Christmas Eve reading material for families as they wait for Santa Claus’ chimney descent.
Santa’s Beard by Matilda Tristram and Tom Duxbury
Illustrated by Nick Sharratt, £10.99
It’s summer and Santa’s Beard is far too fluffy and warm on Santa’s sweaty face. “Don’t worry, Santa, I’ll just find a new face,” says his Beard, and off he flies straight on to... the face of someone new! We love this completely hilarious novelty book illustrated in Nick Sharratt’s bold and distinctive style, help guide Santa’s Beard page by page on its adventure to find its rightful face.
The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis
Illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, £7.99
This is a fantastically funny and heartwarming story by Richard Curtis, scriptwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually. It’s Christmas Eve and there’s one very important question on everyone’s mind - have YOU been good this year? Full of lovely touches that encapsulate family life, this book is the perfect edition to any bookshelf.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
Illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat, £7.99
This elegant cut-paper edition of the celebrated Christmas poem evokes the snowy magic of the season through moonlit silhouettes. With the turn of each page the scenes transform to reveal the fine details and surprises of a festive family home.
Open up the house to see the characters within, peer through the doors and windows to catch a glimpse of St Nick’s arrival and witness the spectacular pop-up finale. All the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve is captured here, making this a book to delight in and to treasure!
On Angel’s Wings by Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Quentin Blake, £5.99
On Angel Wings is a beautifully poignant and atmospheric Christmas story from Britain’s best-loved children’s author, Michael Morpurgo.
One cold Christmas night, a shepherd recounts the magical story of how he came to be the first visitor to the newborn Christ child - ahead of the other shepherds, and in complete secret.
A deftly wrought re-working of the nativity story from former Children’s Laureate and award-winning author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo. Michael’s tale is rich in human detail and Quentin Blake’s watercolour illustrations ooze energy in this delightful picture book.
The Jolly Christmas Postman
by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, £12.99
Hurry up and catch the Christmas post! A whole bag of festive letters and parcels that lucky old YOU can peek inside. It’s nearly Christmas, and the Jolly Postman is doing his rounds. Would you like to peep inside his mailbag? Open a card for Baby Bear, a jigsaw for Humpty Dumpty, a game for Mr Wolf and lots more parcels.
Just don’t forget to wrap them back up so they arrive safely on Christmas Day... merry pictures, bouncy rhymes, jolly presents to unwrap: this book will make you happier than happy.
Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird
Illustrated by Helen Craig, £6.99
Angelina and her cousin Henry show true Christmas spirit when they visit old Mr Bell, the retired postman who lives all alone. Their generosity is rewarded when they discover that there is a real Santa Claus living right in their own village! The perfect festive story for all Angelina Ballerina fans.
Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr, £6.99
Judith Kerr is a long time friend of Seven Stories and no Christmas would be complete without Mog’s silly antics. This is a wonderful Christmas story about everyone’s favourite family cat. The house is full of strange bustling, there are new noises and new smells, and where is that tree going? Disconcerted by all the unusual activities, Mog escapes to the roof, and there she stays... until, unexpectedly, she returns with a bump!
The Christmas Truce by Hilary Robinson
Illustrated by Martin Impey, £7.99
It’s Christmas Eve 1914 and in the midst of war there is an extraordinary glimmer of peace and friendship as soldiers from both sides put down their weapons to play a game of football. Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey beautifully weave poetry and illustration to retell this poignant story of The Christmas Truce.
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs, £7.99
Father Christmas awoke from his lovely dream of summer in the sun, and there it was on the calendar, December 24, Christmas Eve - the start of his longest night’s work of the year! This book was awarded The Library Association’s Kate Greenaway Medal, and has been a firm favourite ever since its first publication. A true Christmas classic
Over the Hills and Far Away – A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
Compiled by Elizabeth Hammill, £14.99
This is a stunning collection of 150 rhymes from countries all over the English-speaking world, including Great Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, South Africa and the Caribbean compiled by Seven Stories co-founder Elizabeth Hammill.
This comprehensive collection contains all the best-loved nursery rhymes, but also some new discoveries, and vibrant rhymes from Native American, First Nation, Inuit and Maori cultures.
All royalties from the sales of Over the Hills and Far Away will be donated to Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books.
All of the books - and many more besides - are available at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in the Ouseburn, Newcastle. www.sevenstories.org.uk