Christmas shopping? Brilliant books to match this year's must-have toys

Published on: 09 December 2021

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

The front covers of some of the books included in our Christmas toy book guide

If your child has been begging you for one of this year's must-have toys, it's a big clue about the kind of book they might enjoy too! Here, we share some ideas about books we think they'll love...

Scalextric Batman vs Superman

The front cover of Alley Cat Rally

Young racing fans are going to love Ricky Trickartt's Alley Cat Rally, a picture book ideal for 4-5s featuring Asta, a cat who makes her rally car out of a washing machine.

For 6-9 year-olds, Elliot Kruszynski's Professor Wooford McPaw's History of Cars is a brilliant and fun guide to automotive history, and for the superhero fans, Sophy Henn's Pizazz series features a relatable heroine in a family of superheroes with plenty of laughs and brilliant illustrations.

Lego Elf Clubhouse

If Lego is your kids' thing, the 8-11 year-olds among them will love top architect Roma Agrawal's book How Was That Built? The Stories Behind Awesome Structures - it explains to children how some of the most iconic structures in the world were built, including The Shard, the Burj Khalifa and the tunnels under the Thames.

Peter Allen's Atlas of Amazing Architecture: The Most Incredible Buildings You've (Probably) Never Heard Of explores lesser-known structures in a similarly brilliantly illustrated book.

John Lewis Waitrose Supermarket

The front cover of Peek-Through Around Town

Little ones love toy versions of grown up life, and so if your toddler is keen on the shopping-inspired toys around this Christmas, they might also love Jonny Marx and Zoe Waring's Peek-Through Around Town, a board book which takes the reader on a shopping trip with Dusty the dog.

For 4-5s, Max Low's Ceri and Deri: Young Whippersnapper is a delightfully silly read about two friends with an ingenious idea for transporting shopping on their skateboards, and in Satoshi Kitamura's The Smile Shop a young boy loses his money, but finds something that makes him happier than any possession.

GraviTrax PRO Starter Set

Younger kids into marble runs and construction sets will love Dr Shini Somara & Nadja Sarell's An Engineer Like Me in which Zara and Gran investigate how all kinds of things work; in DK's ROBOT: Meet the Machines of the Future technologically-minded children can learn all about what robots are like now, and what they're likely to be in the coming years.

Or for a brilliant fiction read with loads of amazing diagrams and inspiring inventions, Will Jakeman's Marvellous Mechanimals by Nick Ward is a fantastic story in which a boy creates some truly wonderful mechanical beings – and enlists them to fight an evil corporation.

Kaloo My First Doll

The front cover of Ella Bella Ballerina and the Magic Toyshop

Available in a number of ethnicities, these soft, cuddly dolls are perfect for babies and toddlers. Baby books to give alongside a Kaloo doll could include Mirror Baby: Hello You! for really little ones – or, for older babies, Baby Young Gifted and Black is a lovely and empowering read for babies and toddlers.

For older children around reception age, the Ella Bella Ballerina books by James Mayhew are sure to be a hit, especially Ella Bella Ballerina and the Magic Toyshop, where Ella discovers dolls that magically come alive.

A new pet

If your family is adopting a new fluffy, furry or even creepy-crawly pet this Christmas, Smriti Halls and Rosalind Beardshaw's rhyming picture book Not That Pet! is a great companion book, telling the story of a family who go to great lengths to find just the right one.

In BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award winner John Agard and Momoko Abe's Books Make Good Pets, it's the books that are the stars, and in Fabi Santiago's My Pet T-Rex there's a gentle reminder about the responsibilities of looking after animals, especially once the novelty of having them has worn off.

For older readers, Take the Lead: How to Care for Your Dog by Elena Browne and Jennifer Farley has great guidance, too.

Push popper fidget toys

The front cover of Loud

Many parents will be familiar with the bubble wrap-inspired push popper fidget toys that are so popular right now with primary school kids. For little kids that love a fidget toy, I Can Learn My First Colours: Animal World has twiddly wooden discs to play with while they learn their colours; for older kids, Emma Yarlett's Santa Post has tons of brilliant interactive features like letters to unfold and read that they'll love.

LOUD! by Rose Robbins is a lovely, empowering story which specifically features a child with ADHD, many of whom are helped by fidget toys. For older children aged 9 and up, the beautifully designed MinaLima editions of classics such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz are super special gifty editions, full of enticing things to pull out and discover.

Plant and pick veggie patch

For young gardening enthusiasts, Gillian Hibbs' Errol's Garden is a story about a boy that makes a lovely city garden; in Melissa Castrillon's The Balcony, a little girl creates a fabulous garden on her balcony and inspires the whole community.

Or for something with a little magic, Steven Lenton and Rachel Morrisroe's How to Grow a Unicorn imagines what would happen if you planted unicorn seeds...

Barbie Dream Camper

The front cover of Grandad's Camper

Inspiration for some camping scenarios to be enacted by Barbie and friends might come from Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola's My Dad is a Grizzly Bear, in which a family go camping with their wilderness-loving dad.

In Grandad's Camper by Harry Woodgate, a little girl listens to her Grandad's tales of his and Gramps' adventures in their pink campervan, and in Taylor Doran's brilliant Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak, Lexie finds herself at a rather surprisingly Halloween-esque summer camp.

PAW Patrol Movie Ultimate City Tower Playset

Finally, for fans of all things canine, picture book Dog Gone by Rob Biddulph features a daily walk in the park gone wrong; in Peter Bently and John Bond's hilarious Dogs in Disguise you'll be amazed at all the ways dogs have managed to blend into our everyday lives (or not), and fans of heroic dogs need look no further than Kimberlie Hamilton's real life stories of doggy heroes in Rebel Dogs: Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds.

Topics: Christmas, Features