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40 best festive reads for children

By Atom | Jan 30, 2024, 3:30 PM

Mother and child sitting on the floor reading a book together. A Christmas tree is pictured in the corner.

Looking to inspire your child with some new books this festive season?

Take a look at our top recommended festive reads for children aged 7–11. This inclusive selection has something for everyone, with a mixture of contemporary and classic fiction and non-fiction. Intrigue even the most disengaged readers!

Download the reading list

Year 3 (ages 7–8)

Year 3 festive reads

1. A Visit From St. Nicholas

by Clement Clarke Moore

Many people will be familiar with this classic narrative poem, which was first published anonymously in 1823. It’s thought that Dr. Moore composed the poem to read to his six children on Christmas Eve.

Genre: Poetry

2. The Last Polar Bears

by Harry Horse

Join Grandfather and his dog, Roo, on their adventurous expedition to the north on HMS Unsinkable to find the last polar bears.

Genre: Adventure

3. Ice Trap! Shackleton’s Incredible Expedition

by Meredith Hooper

An illustrated retelling of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s heroic exploration of the Antarctic in 1914.

Genre: Adventure

4. Odd and the Frost Giants

by Neil Gaiman

Learn about Norse mythology while following the unfortunate life of Odd, a Viking boy who finds himself immersed in an astonishing adventure.

Genre: Fantasy

5. Letters from Father Christmas

by J.R.R. Tolkien

A collection of letters written by Father Christmas and his elvish secretary, documenting life in the North Pole. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote and illustrated these letters over a period of 20 years to entertain his children each Christmas.

Genre: Fantasy

6. How I Saved Hanukkah

by Amy Goldman Koss

Discover the meaning of Hanukkah with Marla Feinstein and find out more about the exciting traditions of the festival of lights.

Genre: Contemporary

7. Einstein the Penguin

by Iona Rangeley

When Mrs Stewart insisted that a small penguin at London Zoo “must come and stay with them whenever he likes”, nobody expected him to turn up at their house with a rucksack labelled ‘Einstein’ on his back.

Genre: Fantasy

8. The Christmas Pig

by JK Rowling

When Jack’s beloved toy Dur Pig (DP) goes missing one Christmas, his annoying replacement toy, the Christmas Pig, comes up with a daring plan to help him save his best friend.

Genre: Fantasy

9. The Night I Met Father Christmas

by Ben Miller

Join Jackson on a fairytale adventure to find out how Father Christmas actually became Father Christmas.

Genre: Fantasy

10. The Christmasaurus

by Tom Fletcher

The North Pole as you never imagined it. William Trundle meets elves who speak entirely in rhyme and a dinosaur who wishes he was a reindeer.

Genre: Fantasy

Year 4 (ages 8–9)

Year 4 festive reads

1. Shackleton’s Journey

by William Grill

A sophisticated retelling of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Antarctic expedition. This book combines informative text and detailed colour drawings in a thought-provoking and attractive work of non-fiction for children.

Genre: Non-fiction

2. Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

by Catherine Johnson

This fictional retelling of the 19th-century explorer Matthew Henson sheds light on the way prejudice has whitewashed the way we learn about the past.

Genre: Contemporary

3. The Last Bear

by Hannah Gold

April thought there were no polar bears left on Bear Island – until she meets one, starving, lonely and a long way from home, and sets out on an important journey to save him.

Genre: Fantasy

4. Sky Song

by Abi Elphinstone

The stony kingdom of Erkenwald is ruled by an evil Ice Queen. Join Eska and Flint, who set off on a journey in search of an ancient song with the power to force the Ice Queen back.

Genre: Fantasy

5. The Cold Book

by Mike Goldsmith

Find out all the facts you need to know about ship-sinking icebergs, frozen planets, abominable snowmen, icy sports and more.

Genre: Non-fiction

6. Voyage of the Frostheart

by Jamie Littler

Ash has spent his life as an outcast. He seeks passage on the Frostheart – a sleigh set for faraway lands – on a quest to find his parents and the home he’s always longed for.

Genre: Fantasy

7. Icefall

by Matthew Kirby

Solveig, her siblings and an army of warriors are trapped in a hidden fortress, desperately awaiting news of their father’s victory at battle. But it soon becomes apparent that a traitor is lurking among them.

Genre: Fantasy/Mystery

8. A Boy Called Christmas (series)

by Matt Haig

Father Christas was not always an old man. He was once a little boy from Finland called Nikolas – and although he believed in happiness, he didn’t experience much of it. Join Nikolas on a life-changing adventure to become the very symbol of Christmas as we know it.

Genre: Fantasy

9. The Christmas Carrolls

by Mel Taylor-Bessent

Holly Carroll wished it could be Christmas every day – until she discovered that a group of children in her new neighbourhood might not get a Christmas at all. Join Holly as she discovers what Christmas cheer is really about in this tale of embracing empathy and helping others.

Genre: Contemporary

10. The Miracle on Ebenezer Street

by Catherine Doyle

George stumbles across a mysterious snow globe at Marley’s Curiosity Shop – and is swept off on a hilarious adventure with his dad to Christmases past, present and future.

Genre: Fantasy

Year 5 (ages 9–10)

Year 5 festive reads

1. Breadcrumbs

by Anne Ursu

Hazel and Jack were best friends, until Jack disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice – and it’s up to Hazel to bring him back. This original fairy tale of modern-day America is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.

Genre: Fantasy

2. Penina Levine is a Potato Pancake

by Rebecca O’Connell

Penina isn’t looking forward to Hanukkah. She’s sure her sister will be the centre of attention again, her favourite teacher has taken a mysterious leave of absence, and her best friend is disappearing off on a dream holiday. Find out how Penina turns a pile of problems into a Hanukkah to remember.

3. The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club

by Alex Bell

Join Stella Starflake Pearl and the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club as they take an adventure across the Icelands and encounter frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns and more.

Genre: Fantasy

4. Dreidels on the Brain

by Joel ben Izzy

12-year-old Joel dreams of being a superhero. It’s 1971 and he’s trying to survive Hanukkah in the back suburbs of Los Angeles, which isn’t easy when your family is embarrassing and you’re the only Jew at school. He’s betting everything on these eight nights to see if it’s worth believing in miracles.

Genre: Religious/Spiritual

5. Tinsel: The Girls who Invented Christmas

by Sibéal Pounder

Blanche Claus joins forces with her best friend Rinki and an aspiring chef called Santa on a mission to deliver a Christmas gift to every child on Earth.

Genre: Fantasy

6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

Siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy never expected to find an entire new land beyond a wardrobe door. Narnia is frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the White Witch, and it’s up to the children and a mighty lion named Aslan to free Narnia from the witch’s spell.

Genre: Fantasy, Classics

7. Ballet Shoes

by Noel Streatfield

Sisters Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil were adopted by an eccentric and rich explorer who disappeared. When the family starts to run out of money, the sisters decide to become ballet dancers – but they quickly learn that being a star isn’t as easy as they thought.

Genre: Contemporary, Classics

8. Goodnight Mister Tom

by Michelle Magorian

Eight-year-old Willie Beech is sent from his poverty-stricken home in London to live in the English countryside during World War Two. Under the care of the gruff-at-first Mister Tom, Willie soon learns to let go of the despair of his past and discover the power of friendship and affection. When a telegram from his mother sees Willie return to London and disappear, Mr. Tom sets out to bring home the child he’s come to love as a son.

Genre: Historical fiction

9. Running on the Roof of the World

by Jess Butterworth

Tash lives in Tibet – a country in the Himalayas. When Chinese soldiers seize her parents, she embarks on an epic journey with her friend Sam to escape Tibet and seek the help of the Dalai Lama.

Genre: Adventure

10. Winterhouse

by Ben Guterson

Orphan Elizabeth Somers is shipped off to the strange Winterhouse Hotel by her mean-spirited aunt and uncle. Join Elizabeth as she delves into the hotel’s secrets and discovers that she’s somehow connected to Winterhouse – and that she’s the only person who can solve the mystery and break the hotel’s curse.

Genre: Fantasy/Mystery

Year 6 (ages 10–11)

Year 6 festive reads

1. Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth might be sisters, but they have very different personalities and ambitions. Follow this charming story of the March sisters as they navigate hardships and set off on adventures in New England during the Civil War.

Genre: Classic

2. The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Join Bilbo, a peace-loving hobbit in the magical land of Middle Earth, as he’s reluctantly spirited away by the wizard Gandelf and his dwarves on an epic adventure to reclaim their mountain and its treasures from a magnificent dragon.

Genre: Fantasy

3. Northern Lights

by Philip Pullman

Lyra Belacqua lives in Oxford in an alternate universe with her daemon, Pantalaimon, and her best friend Roger. When Roger disappears, she sets out on an enduring quest to the North to find him, encountering armoured bears and witch-queens along the way, only to find something more terrifying and perilous than she could have ever imagined.

Genre: Fantasy

4. A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge is a selfish and mean-spirited old man who hates Christmas and is unkind to the people who work for him. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge receives the ultimate punishment when he’s spirited away by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and learns the errors of his ways.

Genre: Classic, Fantasy

5. Dog Driven

by Terry Lynn Johnson

Join McKenna Barney on her epic adventure to raise awareness about her disability as she leads a team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe.

Genre: Adventure

6. Island of Fog

by Keith Robinson

Eight 12-year-old children live in a close-knit community on a permanently foggy island off the coast of America. Convinced of a conspiracy, the children begin to question what really lies out there beyond the fog and they resolve to find out the truth once and for all.

Genre: Fantasy

7. The Way Past Winter

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Mila and Oskar live in a small forest cabin in the snow. When Oskar is kidnapped by a strange, fur-clad stranger one night, Mila and her sisters set out on an adventure to the north to bring Oskar home.

Genre: Fantasy

8. Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: Peril at Owl Park

by Marthe Joceyln

Aspiring writer Aggie Morton is looking forward to spending a relaxing Christmas break with her sister, the new Lady Greyson of Owl Park. But when Aggie and her friends discover a body in the manor house on Christmas morning, she’ll have to put her detective skills to the test to find the murderer on the loose.

Genre: Mystery

9. The Nowhere Emporium

by Ross MacKenzie

The Nowhere Emporium mysteriously appears in the middle of Glasgow. When orphan Daniel Holmes is recruited as the mysterious Mr Silver’s apprentice, he’s immersed into the Emporium’s magical and enchanting world. But when Mr Silver disappears, it’s up to Daniel to save his home and his new friends before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever.

Genre: Fantasy

10. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow was born on the unluckiest day, which means she’s blamed for everything that goes wrong. When a mysterious man called Jupiter North whisks her away to safety in the secret city of Nevermoor, she discovers that she’ll need to pass a series of difficult and dangerous trials to stay in Nevermoor for good.

Genre: Fantasy

Looking for more recommendations?

Atom’s recommended book lists for Years 3–6 include a great selection of year-round reading, with something to engage your child at every level.

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Atom Learning reading lists

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