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Beautiful Keepsake Christmas Books that children will love

Our guide to the most gorgeous and unusual Christmas themed books for children, with special cut-outs, carousels, surprises and pop-ups. These books will be loved year after year...

24 of the best children's books to get you in the Christmas spirit

From all-time Christmas classics to beautiful brand new books…

Christmas stories and tales are a magical part of the holiday season and a special book always has a place in any Christmas Eve box or sack. This collection of books includes stories about Christmas that are unusual, interactive and beautifully presented – or all three.

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From clever cut-outs to fabulous pop-ups, via a book carousel or interactive flaps and pockets, there are so many books that  are  just perfect for festive reading and mini stocking fillers. Here’s our pick of some of the most magical festive tomes – both newly published and old-time classics – for you and the whole family to enjoy.

Christmas is Coming! An Advent Book By Katie Hickey (Chronicle Books) 

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2019

This beautiful keepsake advent book features a front-cover advent calendar with die-cut flaps. Each of the 24 lift-the-flap windows reveals a clue to a festive activity that can be found inside. This might be a recipe for a delicious homemade treat, instructions for a cozy craft, a game to play, a carol to sing, or a beautifully illustrated story to read with the whole family. The illustrations, as cozy as the contents, offer festoons of evergreens and ornaments, depictions of tidy homes and sweet little shops nestled closely together in snowy landscapes, to be enjoyed year after year.

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Christmas is Coming!

The Crayons’ Christmas by Drew Daywalt with pictures by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2019

If you love the The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home – and to be frank who doesn’t – then Christmas has come early with a brand-new Crayons book from author/illustartor duo Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. ‘Tis the season for all of us to write our Christmas wish lists but everyone knows -even the Crayons – that the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, join Duncan, the crayons and their families  as they celebrate the festive season in this hilarious interactive book with real folded letters to pull from their envelopes , games, press-out ornaments, a poster and even a pop-up Christmas tree. This is one book EVERY kid will want this Christmas.

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The Crayons Christmas

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Allberg (Puffin Books)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 1991

Fans of The Jolly Postman will love this festive take on the Janet and Allan Alberg classic – although it would be fair to say this Christmas version is a classic in its own right too! It’s Christmas Eve and The Jolly Christmas Postman is delivering greetings to everyone’s favourite fairy-tale characters far and wide. He peddles up hill and down dale to ensure Red Riding Hood receives a gift from Mr Wolf (a game appropriately called Beware) and hospitalised Humpty Dumpty gets a get-well jigsaw. With its interactive cards and gifts, and cast of familiar fairytale characters, this clever book never fails to charm. Who can resist opening those little envelopes?

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The Jolly Christmas Postman

Christmas Street by Jonathan Emmett and Illustrated by Ingela P Arrhenius (Nosy Crow)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2021

This beautiful lift-the-flap Christmas alphabet story is a book, a fold-out play-scene, and a beautiful festive frieze to decorate the table or your little ones room. Everyone is busy on Christmas Street. Who is baking gingerbread? Who is wrapping presents? And who’s that coming down the chimney? Children can find out in this cheerful, rhyming text gift book which is a follow-up to another favourite, Alphabet Street.

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Christmas Street

How Winston Delivered Christmas: A Christmas story in 24-and-a-half-chapters  and How Winston Came Home for Christmas both by Alex T. Smith (Macmillan Children’s Books)

  • Ideal for ages: 5+
  • Published: 2019/ 2021

The story of the brave little mouse called Winston who is on a very important mission! You see, on Christmas Eve, he finds a letter to Father Christmas that did not make it to the post box, so, with no time to lose, he sets out to deliver it himself in time for Christmas Day! Featuring beautiful colour artwork and Christmassy activities to make-and-do throughout (including writing a letter to Father Christmas, making mince pies, designing your very own Christmas cards, making presents, creating decorations, and so much more), you can enjoy a chapter of this gorgeous book each day, which is sure to become a festive family tradition that will be enjoyed year after year.

This year sees the festive sequel How Winston Came Home for Christmas. It is five days until Christmas and Winston has a very curious mystery to solve! He has hazy rememberings of another mouse, and he just knows that someone very important to him is lost. After promising Oliver that he will be back in time for Christmas, no matter what, Winston sets out on an exciting round-the-world adventure to find the missing mouse, helped along the way by wonderful old friends and delightful new ones, too. The new title also features more enchanting Christmas actives to do with the whole family.

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How Winston Delivered Christmas

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How Winston Came Home for Christmas

 Santa’s Christmas Handbook by Chris Edge (Templar)

  • Ideal for ages: 5+
  • Published: 2019

A clever Christmas themed book, written for Santa by his elves, to keep him on track on Christmas Eve! It seems that Santa really does need this book, as one of the best-kept secrets about Christmas is that Santa Claus is highly accident-prone and doesn’t get on well with gadgets and gizmos! Packed with novelties, interesting tabs to lift and discover, and a fun board game on the penultimate spread, this beautifully illustrated, interactive and fun book has something new on every page that will appeal to readers young and old.

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Santa’s Christmas Handbook

The Nutcracker: A Papercut Pop-up Book by Shobhaa Patel (Thames & Hudson)

  • Ideal for ages: 5+
  • Published: 2017

Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet receives a breathtaking retelling in this enchanting book featuring a new pop-up technique invented by the author that is called paperscope. As Clara’s nutcracker toy takes her on a magical midnight journey, through a world of dancing candy canes and mouse soldiers, each chapter is punctuated by an intricate laser-cut illustration, which you reveal by pushing down on the top of the page, which acts like a stage set. Simply stunning and a book to treasure forever.

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The Nutcarcker

Let it Glow: A Winter’s Walk by Owen Gildersleeve (Wide Eyed Books)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2017

Set in a Winter wonderland, this book follows one child on his journey home through a snowy landscape. Lights are revealed by diecuts throughout, which become lit-up shop windows, carol singers’ candles, stars in the sky and finally a star on the tree. Told in verse, this gift book will delight little ones and bring some of that Christmas magic into everyone’s home, year after year.

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Let it Glow: A Winter’s Walk

Follow The Star – A Pop-up Christmas Journey by Amanda Wood and Illustrated by Andy Mansfield (Templar Books)

  • Ideal for ages: 4+
  • Published: 2019

This is an unusual pop up book, as you have to turn it sideways to get the full pop-up effect across both the pages. This tale is of the Christmas star as it makes its way through the Christmas story. The silver foil star complements the red foil cover and it can be found on every page, atop a Christmas tree, over the stable in Bethlehem and lighting up Santa’s way.

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Follow the Star

The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake by Katy Flint and illustrated by Jessica Courtney Tickle (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

  • Ideal for ages: 5+
  • Published: 2019

This classic story follows Prince Siegfried who is tricked into proposing to Von Rothbart’s daughter Odile as he attends his birthday party and returns to the lake to battle the evil sorcerer. Will the prince be reunited with his swan princess? Not only will children will discover the spellbinding magic of Swan Lake but, they will be enchanted by this musical interactive retelling. You just push the button on each beautiful scene to hear the vivid sound of an orchestra playing from Tchaikovsky’s score – with 10 excerpts from the ballet’s music it will bring the book and story to life.

Perfect for music lovers, as at the back of the book, there is a short biography of the composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, with details about his composition of Swan Lake. Next to this, you can replay the musical excerpts and for each of them, read a discussion of the instruments, rhythms and musical techniques that make them so powerful.  We also love The Story Orchestra Nutcracker version.

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The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake

The Magical Book of Christmas Tales by Susannah Lockheart (Scholastic)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2009

This unique sliding picture book is pure magic for little ones as they get to change the pictures. The book comprises two Christmas classics; The Nutcracker and The Night Before Christmas, with six-scene changing pages. The illustrations are really lovely and the gatefold pages and cut-out cover all give it a special, keepsake feel. Printed in 2009 by Scholastic, it is definitely worth searching for an excellent condition copy on Amazon Marketplace and second-hand bookstores.

The First Christmas (mini edition) by  Jan Pienkowski (Penguin) and The First Noel by Jan Pienkowski

  • Ideal for ages: 8+
  • Published: 1983 / 2004

Jan Pienkowskis’ The First Christmas tells the story of the Nativity with beautiful illustrations, with black silhouettes and decorative silver highlights, against brilliant jewel-like colours. The story’s Christmas scenes are interpreted through various settings, time periods and moods. They are a bit spooky and a bit gory, which some kids love (and others may not) but either way, it’s an imaginative, beautifully designed book for families and collectors alike. The more recently published The First Noel features five exquisite, detailed and intricate cut-paper silhouettes to form a carousel style book – by turning the book back on itself and tying the covers together to create a standalone carousel. It’s not a book to hand to tiny tots, but rather to enjoy with them. Alternatively, put it up high as a Christmas display and theme other decorations around it.

Beautiful Keepsake Christmas Books the children will love | Junior Magazine
The First Noel

Snow by Walter de la Mare, illustrated by Caroline Rabei (Faber & Faber)

  • Ideal for ages: 4+
  • Published: 2014

The book is modern but the story, as they say, is a tale as old as time… This beautiful poem is by the Georgian poet Walter de la Mare and has been lovingly and carefully brought to life by Carolina Rabei’s glorious artwork, which is a strong mix of black and white images, with touches of red, orange and brown shades, that really brings a touch of elegance to the classic poem. A lovely winter wonderland of illustrations, it really lets the words sing through. A lovely book to read at bedtime, or on Christmas Day, after a crisp afternoon stroll.

The Night Before Christmas: A Magical Pop-up Edition by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat (Walker Books)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2014

Bringing the classic Christmas poem to life with stunning black and white illustrations, cut-paper pages and a two-page pop-up finale. The story is told through scenes from a family home and feels festive, with beautifully observed characters and of course, St. Nicholas himself. A lovely gift and its cute mini size (around 15cm wide) makes it the perfect stocking filler.

Collect all 3. Look out for two other much-loved, classic festive tales given the same beautiful cut-out treatment by illustrator Niroot Puttapipat with The Nutcracker and Jingle Bells.

>> The Nutcarcker: A Magical Pop-up Edition by E.T.A Hoffman and illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat; Jingle Bells: A Magical Pop-up Edition by James Pierpont and illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat

Beautiful & Unusual Christmas Books
The Night Before Christmas

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The Nutcracker
Beautiful Keepsake Christmas Books the children will love | Junior Magazine
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Jingle Bells

The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda (Walker Books) and  The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition by Robert Sabuda (Simon & Schuster)

  • Ideal for ages: 7+
  • Published: 2016/2006

Robert Sabuda makes incredibly detailed, stunning and intricate pop-up books. If you love a pop-up, take a look at his entire range, which includes classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid to name just a few of our favourites! His two most famous (and lovely) Christmas books are The Christmas Story – a pop-up of the nativity and The 12 Days of Christmas, which follows the lyrics of the song. Both books hit the sweet spot of traditional meets fun and make an unusual and beautiful gift, or two.

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The Christmas Story

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The 12 Days of Christmas

Little Christmas Tree by Ruth Symons and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle (Big Picture Press)

  • Ideal for ages: 3+
  • Published: 2016

Little Christmas Tree is a glorious lift-the-flap exploration of nature in a story of one white and snowy night when a little Christmas tree stands alone in the forest when everything is white and still. As the night goes on, there are signs of life – an orange fox, a red-breasted robin, a cloud of fireflies … By the end of the book, the little Christmas tree is transformed by nature and your little ones will be captivated from beginning to end.

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Little Christmas Tree

>> READ MORE CHRISTMAS BOOK: Why not check out Junior’s 24 of the best children’s books to get you in the Christmas spirit

(PICTS: OPENING & MAIN PICTURE: both from GettyImages)