The best books to go with the Christmas toys of the year
Published on: 11 December 2023
If you've wrapped some of this Christmas's must-have toys to put under the tree this year, why not pop a matching book there too? We've got great ideas for you here...
For the fashion-forward: Barbie and DesignAFriend Connie Fashion Designer doll
Nostalgia, especially for Barbie and her world, is big this year. If your child loves role play and make believe, The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb is a gorgeous read about imaginative play with homemade doll characters. If it’s cuteness you’re after, the apple house in Tiny and Teeny by Chris Judge is a delight to pore over, with its dollhouse feel, and the gentle story is about being kind.
Meanwhile, Traction Man is Here by Mini Grey has a Ken-esque quality, because Traction Man has a slight identity crisis when Granny knits him a new outfit. How can he be a hero again? Great fun.
For dinosaur fans: Eaglestone Moving Dinosaur Toy for 5-7 and Chad Valley Trevor Talkback Dino
If dinosaurs are your child’s favourite animal, Rex: Dinosaur in Disguise by Elys Dolan is funny and exciting. Rex wakes up and it’s no longer the Cretaceous period! How will he survive? Brilliant for young primary children.
Even sillier, Brrr! Where Did The Dinosaurs Really Go? by Kes Gray and Nick East suggests that dinosaurs might still exist – and are very good knitters. What do you think happened to them?
For older primary readers who love action, The Deadlands: Hunted by Skye Melki Wegner is full of dinosaur war – with some gruesome battles. Their teeth and claws are fully put to use here.
For aspiring chefs: Mini food diner and wooden café
If your child loves role playing making delicious food – or helping in the kitchen – then these picture book stories will be real treats. My Grandma’s Magic Recipes by Ella Phillips and Camilla Sucre is a warm, comforting book about family love, with two recipes at the back! While in Lenny Has Lunch by Ken Wilson-Max, Lenny and Daddy have quality bonding time in the kitchen. And We Eat Bananas by Katie Abey shows many different animals chomping a tempting range of delicious meals. Inspiration for dinner time, perhaps!
For soft toys: Furby and Little Live Pets: Mama Surprise
Owning and loving a pet can be a longed-for dream, and a responsibility. In Princess Katie’s Kittens: Suki in the Snow by Julie Sykes, illustrated by Sam Loman, Princess Katie has to look after the adventurous and very cute Suki in the snow! And for dog people, Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Magic Puppy by Lola Morayo and illustrated by Cory Reid is a charming magical adventure about a mischievous puppy. Both are for beginner readers.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are not usually known for their escapades. However, Harry, in The Adventures of Harry Stevenson, Guinea Pig Superstar by Ali Pye, manages to have two in one book! With lots of illustrations, this is perfect for children who aren’t looking for long reads.
Similarly, Peanut, Butter and Crackers: Puppy Problems by Paige Braddock is a fun, short, cartoon-style graphic novel about a puppy joining a house where a dog and cat already live. It has minimal text and colour illustrations and it’s from the point of view of the pets, too, which creates many funny moments.
For young engineers and tech fans: Mini drone for children
For the upper primary and lower secondary child who loves tech, Drone Racer by Andy Briggs is a fast-paced, page-turning adventure. Similarly, the mind-bending alien tech in Swarm Rising by astronaut Tim Peake and Steve Cole will have readers keen to read more.
Virus: Virtual Kombat 2 by Chris Bradford is an action-packed adventure for gamers. It’s a sequel, but you don’t have to have read the first book. Its font, paper and design mean it’s dyslexia friendly and accessible, and it’s relatively short. Readers from ages 9 to 14 would enjoy it.
The classic: Lego
Lego is popular every Christmas – loved for its visually imaginative possibilities, as well as its role in fine motor skill development. It is hard to replicate exactly that in books, but the latest line in young, colour graphic novels are certainly visually imaginative, and will have readers turning the pages – and perhaps reaching for the colouring pencils themselves.
Max & Chaffy: Welcome to Animal Island by the much-loved Jamie Smart, author of Bunny vs Monkey and Looshkin, has a simple story, with lots of interaction from the reader, who has to search for Chaffy on the page. Meanwhile, Bumble and Snug are two very different friends who work together to solve problems they might have created themselves – in Bumble & Snug and the Angry Pirates by Mark Bradley they inadvertently steal some pirates’ treasure. Finally, Press Start! Game on, Super Rabbit Boy! by Thomas Flintham has bright graphic style similar to Minecraft, and is full of short bursts of action. All are lots of fun, are the start of a series, and might get beginner readers hooked on books!