What to Read After… The Night Before Christmas

Published on: 16 December 2021 Author: Anna McKerrow

For many households, this much-loved poem is a staple of Christmas Eve and the holiday season, filling families up with excited anticipation. What other books could give you the same cosy, timeless feeling this yuletide? 

Illustration by Matt Tavares

''Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...'

The Night Before Christmas, also known as ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas and A Visit From St Nicholas, is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. It’s been illustrated by some stupendous artists, including a luminously beautiful version this year by P. J. Lynch for Walker Books.

Here are some suggestions for books to read if your children love this festive poem…

For other classic Christmas tales

From the front cover of The Jolly Christmas Postman 

Try The Snowman, which Michael Morpurgo retold to include more of a backstory in this chapter book edition homage to the Raymond Briggs original. Don’t worry – everything that makes The Snowman feel wondrous for children, and cosy and nostalgic for parents, is here in this version. But the ending is gentler – with a note of hope for magical times to come.

Dogger’s Christmas, which came out in 2020, also sees a much-loved classic children’s character returning in a festive adventure, where Dave accidentally loses his favourite toy, Dogger – mercifully, there’s a happy ending to this lovely story which is perfect to read in the run-up to the big day.

If you’re new to the Norwegian Mrs Pepperpot stories, first published in the 1950s, then this Christmassy collection of tales about the amazing Mrs Pepperpot – who is able to make herself very small when she needs to – is sure to delight.

Last, of course, Christmas classics like Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express, Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas and Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s The Jolly Christmas Postman are all wonderful ones for repeated reading every year.

Some new festive picture books

Illustration by Hoang Giang from The Christmas Department Store

Festive picture books we’ve really loved this year include Little Glow by Katie Sahota and illustrated by Harry Woodgate, which showcases the amazing celebrations of light across different communities including Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan. There’s also Rob Biddulph’s Odd Dog Christmas, where everyone’s favourite sausage dog steps in to save Christmas, and Maudie Powell-Tuck and Hoang Giang’s The Christmas Department Store, in which a little boy’s worries about not having enough money at Christmas are helped by the caring creatures in a magical shop.

Picture books full of rhyme

Illustration by Sarah Warburton from the book Peter Pan

If you’re looking for some classic-feeling rhyming picture books, then this lovely illustrated edition of Peter Pan by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton and published by Nosy Crow is a delight, as is this year’s retelling of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Margarita Kukhtina. Others in the series include Heidi and The Velveteen Rabbit.

Alternatively, the second illustrated instalment in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, The Subtle Knife, is out, illustrated by Chris Wormell, and it’s stunning!

Last, for a more modern rhyming story, but still with a good sprinkle of magic, Rachel Morrisroe and Steven Lenton’s How To Grow a Unicorn in which Sarah is looking for the perfect birthday gift for gardening-loving Grandma. She heads to Mr Pottifer’s Parlour of Plants, which is stocked with magical plants that fly, dance and even growl.

Or, what about Alice D. McGinty and David Roberts’ Bathe The Cat, in which a beautifully depicted mixed race family with two dads are scurrying around tidying their house before Grandma arrives – with the help, or hindrance, of their cat.

Join in!

Those are some of our ideas – but what about you?

Let us know by leaving your comments in the box below or tweeting us @BookTrust using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter

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