Toy guide 2018 – and the best children’s books to go with them

Published on: 26 November 2018 Author: Anna McKerrow

Here's a roundup of books your child will love in the present pile, based on the toys that they're begging you for this Christmas.

Want to know which toys the kids are busy requesting in letters to Santa this Christmas? Well, here you are – plus all the very best children's books for all mini-fans of unicorns, dinosaurs, dogs, dolls, LEGO, laser guns, Harry Potter and robots!

Poopsie Unicorn Surprise/VTech Fantasy Unicorn/My Lovely Unicorn Electric Ride-on

If a glitter-pooping plastic unicorn is top of your child’s Christmas list this year, you could consider accompanying the delightful mythical creature with some of this year’s best unicorn books. Oscar the Hungry Unicorn is a grumpily glorious and very greedy unicorn who doesn’t quite fit the unicorn stereotype; Sophie Johnson, Unicorn Expert is an amusing story about a little girl that is so busy teaching her wannabe unicorns how to act that she doesn’t notice when a real one turns up. Also, for 6-9 year olds, Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords is a hilarious friendship story that exposes the dark side of unicorns. It’s the second in a series but reads fine as a standalone – and readers can follow up the other brilliant Amelia Fang adventures at the library. 

Paw Patrol Rescue Fire Truck Playset

Selling out left, right and centre is this fire truck from the TV show that features a set of heroic dogs solving mysteries and helping their community. If your kids love a talking dog, they’re going to love Matty Long’s Salty Dogs, a hilarious cartoon-format picture book about pirate dogs. Non-fiction dog fans will love Dogs in Space: The True Story of Belka and Strelka, which tells the true story of the first two dog astronauts. Lastly, Nosy Crow’s brilliant Flip Flap Dogs is a flap book that enables children to mix up dog breeds with rhyming results and is barkingly good fun.

Fingerlings Untamed: T-Rex

Fingerlings are back… and this time, it’s palaeontological. Last year’s hit gift – a little creature that hangs on to fingers, sticks and all manner of possessions – has a new dinosaur permutation. Little dino fans will adore Dinosaur Firefighters, an amusing picture book about being yourself, or Dear Dinosaur, a series of letters between a little boy and a dinosaur at the museum. Joke tellers will love The Universe’s Greatest Dinosaur Jokes and Pre-Hysteric Puns and slightly older dino fans will spend hours poring over the epic and beautiful Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures.

Nerf Laser Ops

This year’s enthusiastic Christmas ambushers, jumper-outers and hiders-behind-doors are, apparently, mad keen for the latest NERF gun: this time, it includes a laser for improved aim. (Just don’t fire it at us when we’re carrying mounds of sprouts to the dinner table.) Andy Briggs’ Drone Racer is an intensely readable high-octane tech adventure featuring the new pastime of drone racing that NERF fans around 10-12 will absolutely adore (anything that gets them to put the thing down). Graphic novel fans around the same age will really love Scales and Scoundrels, a similarly rip-roaring fantasy adventure, brilliant for kids that want a faster read and love comic artwork.

L.O.L Surprise

L.O.L Surprise dolls, a series of plastic dolls that come with different outfits, accessories and pets, all wrapped in a plastic ball, are a phenomenon this year. For children who are looking forward to a new doll for their collection, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History or Herstory: 50 Women and Girls who Shook the World are inspiring books that mirror the variety of occupations and identities of the L.O.L dolls and remind children that the world is their oyster. The wonderful Julian is a Mermaid is also a great book for children that love clothes and fashion, reassuring us that girls and boys can express themselves in whatever way makes them happy.

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Express

This year, the LEGO set du jour is the Hogwarts Express. For a break between intensive building sessions, Potter fans from 10+ will adore Liz Flanagan’s epic Dragon Daughter, which is the beginning of a new series. Katherine Applegate’s Endling: The Last is also the first of an amazing new fantasy series full of talking animals and derring do, and Juman Malouf’s The Trilogy of Two is a magical story about two musical prodigies, their life in a circus and what happens when their talent is stolen by an evil nemesis.


Dolls with a “Big Hair, Don’t Care!” attitude, the Hairdorables are a collection of dolls with different personalities and interests, with mottos such as 'We’re in this together!' and 'Style is a state of mind!' Daddy Do My Hair: Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way is a great book about father-daughter relationships that would be a lovely addition to any bookcase. Continuing the hair theme, I Don’t Want Curly Hair explores ideas of identity in a light touch way. Lastly, Billy and the Beast is a fabulous picture book story about a brave and resourceful heroine, Billy, who finds all sorts of useful things in her hair.

Boxer Robot

Robot toys remain popular year on year: the Boxer Robot is this year’s latest AI trend, featuring its own personality, games, tricks and the ability to follow you around. Seven to ten year olds that hanker after Boxer might enjoy Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space, a humorous romp combining a village bake-off and a horde of space robots. Older readers from 10+ will adore The Wild Robot, a thoughtful and heartwarming book about what it means to be human.

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