Brilliant books for children's Christmas presents
I always adored receiving books as presents when I was a little girl and, now I'm a mother, I love it when my children are given books too. A book can open your mind to new worlds, take you on adventures and introduce you to characters who end up as best friends - and all from your bedroom!
At Perform, we always theme our holiday courses around great children's literature. We run courses putting together specially written versions of stories like Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. Parents often comment how the experience has inspired them to read the whole story.
So, with Christmas present buying in full swing, I wanted to find some fantastic books as gifts for the children in my life. As there is so much choice and books have changed a lot since I was a young reader, I sought some advice.
Fortunately, I am friends with Lorna Bradbury, Deputy Literary Editor for The Telegraph and the author of the Telegraph's Ask Lorna column which answers readers' queries about children's books. Lorna is passionate about getting children reading from a young age and shared three tips for encouraging reading as well as some brilliant book ideas. Her tips are:
1) Find the best quality books you can around your child's interests. For example, if they love horses, go for KM Peyton; if they are more into football, try Mal Peet.
2) Read together as much as possible ? meaning you and your child take turns to read small sections. For beginner readers, the classic Ant and Bee series (now reissued) is excellent as there are sections for adult and child. Usborne books are great at this too.
3) Steer clear of anything with a glittery pink cover. The writing is likely to be dull.
Here are the book choices, divided into sections.
Bedtime stories The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari, translated by Sophie Lewis (Pushkin Children's Books) - A bizarrely entrancing collection of stories. Shakespeare's Storybook: Folk Tales that Inspired the Bard by Patrick Ryan and James Mayhew (Barefoot Books) - Beautifully written folk tales, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Oxford University Press). ? A new large-format edition with stunning illustrations by David Roberts. Christmas Stories by Michael Morpurgo (Egmont) - Four stories, each with a different illustrator.
Picture books The Goldilocks Variations by Allan Ahlberg and Jessica Ahlberg (Walker) - The classic story with various twists in a pop-up edition. Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett (Macmillan) - The latest from the most exciting writer/illustrator for the under fives. A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith (Oxford University Press) - A classic version of the nativity story. It even comes with a Nativity scene to assemble. Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski (Big Picture Press) ? A huge illustrated book of maps. One of the first books from a new publisher.
Books for 7s and 8s How to Betray a Dragon's Hero by Cressida Cowell (Hodder) - The last in the How to Train your Dragon series. Start at the beginning if you're unfamiliar; it's a terrific fast-paced adventure series, great for boys as well as girls. Three Pickled Herrings by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts (Orion) ? The second in her series about a fairy detective agency. The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson (Marion Lloyd Books ) - Lloyd's final novel, a timeless classic about a girl and an abominable snowman. The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (Boxer Books) ? A quirky story about four orphans and a lost baby.
Books for 9s and 10s Skellig by David Almond (Hodder Children's Books) - A new hardback edition of the modern classic for its 15th anniversary. War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Rae Smith (Egmont) - A new gift edition with atmospheric black and white drawings. Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz (Walker) - The prequel to the Alex Rider spy series. Osbert the Avenger by Christopher William Hill (Orchard) - The first in a new darkly funny series about a boy who becomes a serial killer.
Books for teenagers Tinder by Sally Gardner (Indigo) - A brilliant new novel, inspired by the classic fairy tale The Tinderbox, with drawings by David Roberts. The Box of Red Brocade by Catherine Fisher (Orchard) - The second in the intricate time-travelling series. Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman (Random House) - Fast-paced futuristic thriller from the children's laureate. More than This by Patrick Ness (Walker) - For older teens, from the author of the Chaos Walking series.
It would be great to hear from you regarding books your children have particularly loved. Please do get in touch with feedback.