Santa’s wish by Samuel Langley- Swain

We have been loving “Santa’s wish” by Samuel Langley- Swain, it is such a heart warming story!


The story begins with a family sitting down on Christmas eve to read  the book “The night before Christmas”. They do their final Christmas preparations such as hanging their stockings and leaving a carrot for Rudolph. During the night the children find Santa outside their window. He said he received their letter so he is taking them on a trip to the North Pole! He explains that he receives so many letters but theirs is the one he remembers! What was so special about their letter? What is Santa’s wish? Will his wish come true?


Such a lovely story that brings the heart of what Christmas should really be about!

The story is written in a lovely rhyme which makes it fun to read. I think it is a lovely story which you could read as a family and think about how you could show love this Christmas time.

Happy festive reading everyone! x

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“Pick a pine tree” by Patricia Toht

Have you seen “Pick a pine tree” by Patricia Toht illustrated by Jarvis? The book shares the process of changing a pine tree into a Christmas tree!


The story begins with a family going to choose their pine tree and bringing it home. It goes through the steps to make the pine tree into the Christmas tree from moving furniture to make space for it, to putting on the lights, decorations and choosing what should go at the top.


The book shares the variety of different decorations you can put on the tree so it is great for discussion – Which decoration would you put on your tree? What do you put on the top of your tree? As an adult it brings back lots of lovely memories of family traditions associated with preparing for Christmas.

I can’t express how much I love Jarvis’s illustrations, the colours are vibrant and bold with a real retro feel! The book is written in a lovely rhythmic style that makes it a joy to read aloud.

The perfect picture book to read while you are getting ready for Christmas!

Happy reading!

Click here if you would like to find about some other great Christmas picture books.

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“The queen’s present” by Steve Antony

We totally love “The queen’s hat” by Steve Antony so we were delighted to find the “The queen’s present” in our local library!


The story begins outside Harrods, London’s famous department store where the Queen has not been able to find the perfect gift for her grandson or granddaughter. Fortunately help comes in the form of Father Christmas who whisks the Queen around the world in search of that perfect gift! They visit many different countries and landmarks including the great Pyramids of Egypt and the Sydney Opera house! Finally Santa delivers the Queen back to Sandringham house, did she find the perfect gift in any of the places she visited? What will the Prince and Princess receive from the Grandmother?

A lovely heart-warming end to a wonderful Christmas story!


Don’t forget just like “The queen’s hat” you can search each page for the queen’s butler, the older children particularly love doing this.

Wonderful Christmas picture book, highly recommend!

To find out about more great Christmas themed picture books click here.

To read my book share on “The Queen’s hat” click here.


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20 ideas for non toy Christmas gift ideas!

non toy title

Christmas shopping???! I am always hearing parents say their child has too many toys, or they don’t really play with toys. However Christmas comes along and we want to give our children something to open on Christmas morning………..

So I have put a list of 20 non-toy Christmas gift ideas………

1.       A Plant- my son has a little cactus which he gave a name and it lives in his bedroom. It is great for teaching children about living things!

2.       Garden tools – you can buy lovely children size garden tools which is great because it really encourages children to get involved caring for a plant pot or garden.

3.       Seeds – children absolutely love seeing something they have planted grow! Perfect size for a stocking gift.

4.       Wind up torch- torches are just so much fun even just under the duvet.

5.       Baking equipment – apron, mixing bowl, wooden spoon- children love having their own special things to use in the kitchen.

6.       Ingredients to cook- on Pinterest there are so many lovely ideas for giving children cooking ingredients.

7.       Cookery book- Tom absolutely loves his cooking book and loves finding “his” recipe for things we are cooking. I think it is good if the book includes savoury as well as sweet too.

8.       Magnifying glass and book – children are always so fascinated in taking a close up look at things and having a book alongside it to find out information is great.

9.       Microscope – great to explore little treasures children collect.

10.   Binoculars – lovely to take out to the park or the woods.

11.   Craft resources – there are looks of lovely kit type gifts available. Last year I bought jars and filled them with craft bits for gifts e.g. stickers, washi tape, glue stick, pipe cleaners, lollypop sticks.

12.   Art resources – sketch book and pencils or watercolours.

13.   Playdough – make up some playdough, put it in a jar and with a cookie cutter and it makes a really fun cheap gift!

14.   Subscription magazine- children love receiving post, imagine their joy of regularly receiving a magazine of their interest through their door!

15.   Audio books – great for bedtimes and in the car.

16.   Books – so many amazing picture book, chapter books and non-fiction books to choose from.

17.   Seasonal pass – find a local attractions and buy 6 months or a year pass so there is always something to do on a quiet weekend.

18.   An experience – This year my son (and my husband) are being given “Go-ape” vouchers!

19.   A course – a half-term of swimming lessons, forest school workshop…. Find out what is available in your local area.

20.   Clothes – find out what the child really likes at the moment and see if you can find clothing in that theme……… both parent and child will be happy!

I would love to hear any other ideas you have too!

Happy Christmas  shopping everyone! x

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“Anna Hibiscus” by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia

“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.”

We spotted a couple of “Anna Hibiscus” books by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia in the library and we fell in love with the spirit of the books. In this series of books there are both picture books and simple chapter books.

The books are set in modern West Africa, where Anna Hibiscus lives in a house with her extended family so there is always someone to play with.

We have read a couple of the picture books………..

“Anna Hibiscus’ song” is about how happy Anna Hibiscus feels but she doesn’t know what to do with all this happiness, she wonders if she may explode with happiness! What is she going to do? She visits different members of her family and asks them what can she do. Each member of the family shares what they do when they are happy. Her aunties pound yams and her Grandmother squeezes Grandfather’s hand. Finally after Anna Hibiscus talks to her Mum she climbs a mango tree and discovers what she does when she is happy!


“Double trouble for Anna Hibiscus!” is about the arrival of twin brothers into Anna Hibiscus’ family. Anna Hibiscus is warned by her cousins that brothers and especially twin brothers means trouble!  Anna Hibiscus expects her day to continue the same as normal but Mama is sleeping, Uncle Bizi is busy preparing food for her Mama and her aunties are rocking the twins to sleep. Anna Hibiscus is angry her brothers are trouble and no one seems to have time for her. However she quickly learn an important message and maybe she can share that with her new brothers!

Both these books are so heart-warming! It is important to read books set in different modern settings, so children can learn about different cultures and also recognise people also struggle with the same emotions all over the world. Highly recommend!

Happy reading xx


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“Grandad’s secret giant” by David Litchfield

David Litchfield is one of our top children’s picture book authors/illustrators, he creates such classic heart-warming stories. We particularly love “The bear and the piano” and “The Marvellous moon map”.


“Grandad’s secret giant” is about a young boy called Billy and his Grandad. One day Billy explains to his Grandad that they have been painting a mural but they can’t finish it because the wall is so high they can’t reach the top. Grandad says that he knows someone who could help…. a secret giant! Billy doesn’t believe there is a real giant that helps people in the town. Grandad challenges Billy to go to the mural at dawn the following day to see if the giant is real. What will Billy see at dawn? What will he do when he comes face to face with the secret giant? Did he do the right thing? What would he do if he was able to see him again? What would he learn from meeting a giant?


I think this is a great book to discuss the notion that “people are scared of things that are different”. Lots of schools are spending time talking about diversity and accepting that everyone is different, I think this book could be used with young children to help children reflect upon this and think about the consequences of our words and actions on others.

David Litchfield’s illustrations are always stunning, they add details and humour to the story. Children love taking time to look at each of the pages.

I highly recommend this book to be enjoyed as a bedtime story as well as a resources to support personal, social and emotional development in young children.

Happy reading xx

Click on the titles of these wonderful books to find our more “The bear and the piano” and “The Marvellous moon map”.


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“There is no dragon in this story” by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright

“There is no dragon in this story” by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright is wonderful picture book with a great fun twist on traditional fairy stories.


The story begins by the author explaining what the story was meant to be about…. However the dragon in the story has gone off in a huff because he is never the hero. In his huff the dragon searches to see if he could possibly be a hero, he finds various fairy tale characters and asks if he can be in their story…… but they all explain that he can’t because there are no dragons in their story. Suddenly the dragon finds himself caught up in the story of Jack and the beanstalk….……. maybe they do need a dragon in the story? Is the dragon hero material after all? Will the dragon save the day?


This a great simple story which contains repeated phases that the children will love to join with, it also has a great story structure which makes it easy for children to follow and engage with. The illustrations are bold and vibrant which enhance each part of the story.

This book could simply be read and enjoyed, however there is lots of potential for it to be used to support literacy. This story would be a great to use in schools alongside other traditional fairy stories. Within the book there is a clear pictorial model of the story structure which could be used with children to support story telling.

I highly recommend this heart-warming story!

Happy reading x

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