It's that time of year again where Christmas shopping is mid-flow and I wanted to share with you some of our favourite picture books f...

Picture Book Christmas Gift Guide

Monday, November 23, 2020 BookBairn 1 Comments


It's that time of year again where Christmas shopping is mid-flow and I wanted to share with you some of our favourite picture books from this year that would make spectacular gifts for young readers. I'm starting with picture books because they are my favourites and therefore my forte but I will be compiling other lists too so keep an eye out for those. I've also been doing regular 'ask for a gift' on my Instagram stories where people have told me who they are shopping for and I've dug out a recommendation from our collection.

I won't share any festive reads here as personally I prefer to give books that will last all year round but you can find my festive recommendations linked here. So if you do like to give festive books at Christmas time then please go check those out.

Before I share, I just want to say that there are many many great books out there for little readers but these are some of our favourites that we have discovered this year. It would be impossible to compile a fully comprehensive list so this is more of a highlights guide. If you want to see our gift guides from last year, or any of our other gift guides from this year you can find them all linked here. I've tried to include a variety of books so that there is something for everyone.

The Crow and the Peacock by Jo Fernhough

This is the spectacularly illustrated fable of Crow who is on a journey to find happiness as he feels inadequate with his black feathers and shrill call in comparison to his feathered friends dove with her beautiful white feathers and calming coo. But Dove admires Nightingale’s song, and Nightingale wants to sing in the day, and Cockerel wants to glide on the pond, and Swan wants to be as elegantly beautiful as Peacock. And Peacock? He wants what Crow has. This is when Crow realises that Happiness may not come from how you look but how you feel. And he wants to help Peacock feel happy again. A gorgeous new fable with import at messages about identity, happiness and freedom. The distinctive and colourful artwork will draw children in, and to top it all off, this is a great introduction to different types of birds and makes a colourful gift!

Octopus Shocktopus by Peter Bentley & Steven Lenton

There are some formidable pairings in the picture book word and one of our favourites has to be the force that is Peter Bentley and Steven Lenton. Peter’s spectacular storytelling through rhyme is a joy to read aloud and inevitable has the bairns absolutely captivated, charmed and full of giggles coupled with Steven’s superb illustrations, with attention to details that bring characters and scenes to life are a wonder. We love nothing more than going back through the stories again and again spotting new details and often humorous elements and motifs that run through the artwork. And this newest release from them is a book which is utterly joyful!

The premise itself will have you giggling:
“One day we found an octopus
come to live on top of us.”

And honestly I don’t want to say much more other than you will fall in love with this luminous orange octopus and the seaside village in which it turns up. It is truly picture book perfection!

My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan & Francesca Sanna

What better gift to give than that of love of our planet? Earth wakes up from her long winter slumber and takes care of the smallest of creatures to the biggest, from the heights of the skies to the depths of the oceans. She fills the streams, rivers and oceans with rain. And dries the lands that flood. She blows autumn winds and when the cold returns she ticks all the hibernating animals in before curling up herself. Our friend Earth does so many wonderful things. With poetic text, Earth is brought to life as a character that children will love. But it’s the spectacular illustrations, and clever use of die-cuts and flaps, that really invite young readers inside the story. But there’s a deeper message that will appeal to readers if all ages too. This book celebrates everything Earth does for us and inspires us to be a good friend in return. A truly beautiful book and perhaps that gift of love for our planet will be one that lasts a lifetime.

Otto Blotter Bird Spotter by Graham Carter

Another bird book! I know but my kids adore this one too so it absolutely had to be included - and that title is just magic! 
Otto Blotter's whole family are famous bird spotters. But Otto wants more than to spot birds, he wants an adventure. And he finds one. A small one that grows rather out of proportion into a gigantic adventure! Hidden in the bushes, all alone, he finds the most unusual little bird and he takes him home to care for him. But it’s a secret he must keep from the rest of his family as he’s not allowed any pets. Unfortunately for Otto his secret just grows too big to hide. Literally. But maybe the bird has a trick up it’s feathery sleeve? Able to continue on their adventures brings much more fun until Otto realises that his bird friend his lonely and really wants to find it’s family. So Otto enlists his own family to help - after all who could be better to seek out a bird family than Otto’s? A story about friendship and family and joyous fun with illustrations that glow right off the page. This is one of my new favourite storybooks. It has a gentle message but mostly it’s just a super fun little story that my bairns want to read over and over again! 

There's Only One You by Kathryn Heling, Deborah Hembrook & Rosie Butcher

I adore books that encourage children to celebrate their uniqueness and their own individual identity and this book deserves it’s own unique celebration as it is truly one of a kind! It celebrates all the things that make you special. It celebrates the individuality of the way you look - including skin colour and physical differences such as freckles and hair colours and styles as well as showing children who need mobility, hearing and vision (glasses) aides. It celebrates the individuality of the things you enjoy - sports, art, reading? It celebrates introverts and extroverts. It celebrates different sorts of families. It celebrates whoever you are! The illustrations are packed with additional details not included in the lyrical text and kids will love looking at all the details spotting things they have (and don’t have) in common with the characters. And hopefully your kids will spot someone a bit like themselves in this one.

Rain Before Rainbows by Smitri Halls & David Litchfield

I think we could all do with a little comforting this year and this picture book feels like a warm hug, reminding us to stay hopeful in uncertain times. The story follows a girl and her fox who journey through turbulent times, towards a hope of colour, light and life. Along the way they face difficulties big and small and make friends who guide and support each other. As they make their way from dark and dreary scenes into the light of the rainbow, it’s a captivating story about emerging from darkness into the light. The artwork is truly spectacular, stunning in it’s evocative nature and immersive details. With deep blues of frightening storms to the warm yellow of safety, the reader feels like they have also been on a journey. The rainbow has become a symbol of hope and optimism for children (and adults) in this challenging time and this book really embraces that and the hope that the rainbow instills. And will be one to keep as a memory once this time has passed.

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright selected by Fiona Waters & illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

This is a particularly stunning anthology of animal poetry featuring a poem for every day of the year. I adore the artwork in this and long time readers will know I’m particularly fond of Britta Teckentrup's artwork so to see this in all its glory is such a delight! The poetry selected throughout is superb (we’ve flicked through and read our birthdays and the ones with illustrations that made BookBairn shout “stop!” I’ve never really explored much poetry with the bairns (except those which are picture book stories or lyrical storytelling in the likes of Britta’s previous books) so this has been great fun to explore and BookBairn really enjoys the way poetry plays with language - it’s like seeing the cogs turning as she listens along. So this would make an exceptionally beautiful and generous gift. And don’t be afraid of read poetry with kids (like I was) it will surprise you by how much they enjoy and engage with it!

Seasons by Hannah Pang & Clover Robin

“Nature is like a magical picture that changes with the seasons.”

So this new book is perfect for bringing to life those transformations. Using fun, split pages to create an immersive atmosphere, six breath taking landscapes from around the globe will magically transform under little readers fingers as they turn the pages. To me it is no surprise that Clover Robin's illustrations create glorious scenes through her stunning cut-paper illustrations as I have adored her style since I first laid eyes on it! The artwork is truly breathtaking and does justice to the beauty of the natural world (no easy feat when I think about the glorious colours on the trees outside my window). I love that some of the pages are divided into four sections - one for each season whilst others are split in two for rainy and dry seasons in the Maasai Mari or the split into just summer and winter in the Arctic showing children a world different from their own. A breath-taking book that children can enjoy all year round.

Natural History of Fairies by Emily Hawkins & Jessica Roux

I loved the Flower Fairy books growing up and this just speaks to the child in me who would have adored this fairy encyclopaedia! Compiled by the esteemed (fictional) botanist Professor Arbour, this book will help ignite imaginations and will have children seeking to learn more about the secret life of fairies and the special role they play in the natural world. With intricate sketches and detailed labelling and note-taking, children can learn about different fairies from around the globe, learn about fairy anatomy, camouflage and languages as well as our favourite page about how fairies work with animals. There is so much to learn about these secretive little creatures and this will no-doubt create whimsy and wonder for young readers turning them into fairy-lovers and have them looking for evidence of fairies in their own world!

I hope that helps you find something for the little readers in your life! And if you want any specific recommendations please feel free to get in touch! All our social media links are in the header at the top of the blog - or you can just search 'bookbairn' to find us!

I have also added this list to my Amazon shop so you can find the links easily, just click on the section for Preschool-Early Readers where you'll find these books and many others.

This year I've also signed up to be an affiliate for where you can shop online whilst still supporting local independent bookshops! 

And of course you can always take a note of the books titles and go to a local bookshop or place an order with them.

Happy Christmas Shopping,

Kim and the elves xx

Disclaimer: We were sent some of these books free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the affiliate linked stores above and you choose to purchase on, or, I will receive a small sum (around 20p-£1.50 per book) from those sites at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.

1 comment:

  1. A great selection of picture books. I love the fact that the bairns are interested in birds. They have become really knowledgeable on the subject and are superb at identifying them.
    PS :- Octopus Shocktopus and Otto Blotter could make my shortlist of the funniest names.