What to Read After... Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

Published on: 08 December 2022

Father Christmas is, of course, a festive classic packed with everyday (and yet fascinating) details and gloriously dark humour. This is no sweet picture book, but an exploration of how Father Christmas really feels about snow, mince pies and his busy day. That said, it has magnificent artwork and much humour (how naughty it is to watch him on the toilet!). Plus, it’s rather moving. So how to follow such a unique book?

More Santa!

If you want to stick with stories about the man himself, try the heart-warming but not saccharine origin story Kid Christmas of the Claus Brothers Toy Shop by David Litchfield. Similarly, Little Santa by Jon Agee tells the story of Santa as a boy, but with humour. For older readers, try Tinsel by Sibéal Pounder – a very unusual origin story! – and A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig.

For slightly different Santas, seek out the picture books Jingle Spells by James Brown and The Night the Reindeer Saved Christmas by Raj Kaur Khaira and Kasia Nowowiejska, plus Santa Baby by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Ada Grey, where the baby delivers the presents…

Finally, for some sheer silliness, Santa’s Wonderful Workshop by Elys Dolan will have you giggling all the way to Christmas Eve.

Illustration: Jon AgeeIllustration: Jon Agee

Christmas Classics

If you’d prefer to snuggle up with some Christmas classics, the must-haves are surely Dogger’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes, The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and Jan Fearnley’s Little Robin Red Vest. And don’t forget these book-turned-into-film essentials: Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express, and of course Raymond Briggs’s own inimitable triumph: The Snowman. These will all delight both adults rediscovering them and children enjoying them for the first time.

Illustrator: Chris Van AllsburgIllustrator: Chris Van Allsburg

Illustrated soon-to-be classics

It is hard to make a Christmas story feel fresh, but these picture books do just that: Tiny Reindeer by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, We Disagree about this Tree by Ross Collins and for babies, the joy of the Merry Little Christmas Finger Wiggle Book by Sally Symes and Nick Sharratt is not to be under-estimated.

For school-age readers, The Grumpus by Alex T. Smith is not only beautifully illustrated, but has bravery and friendship at its heart, and his How Winston Delivered Christmas is similarly gorgeous in art and heart. The latter has crafts and activities to do every day of Advent, to add to the festive feeling, as does Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit: Christmas is Coming.   

Wintry tales to warm your heart

Finally, if Christmas itself isn’t your thing, but you love stunning illustrations with a wintry feel, dip into Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Lesley Barnes’ amazingly intricate illustrated pop-ups add an even more magical dimension to a wonderful tale. And do settle down to share Little Glow by Katie Sahota and Harry Woodgate, as it sparks warmth and features many of the world’s communities. 

Illustration: Lesley BarnesIllustration: Lesley Barnes

Join in!

Those are some of our ideas – but what about you? What are your family Christmassy must-reads?

Let us know by tweeting us @BookTrust using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter.

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