Christmas reads for all ages

Posted on: 10th December, 2018

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. Whether you pick up a book to increase your knowledge or simply for entertainment, 2018 has provided a great selection to capture your imagination and curiosity.

Christmas 2018 recommendations for little ones to young adults:

Kitty Sisson has worked for several years in Kerr’s Bookshop Clonakilty, and is married to a poet and writer, so books are a big part of life both at work and at home.  With three teenage readers in the house, each with very different interests to accommodate, working in a bookshop provides the perfect opportunity to catch new titles as they arrive. That, coupled with a passion to get young people reading, makes the job a pleasure and she likes nothing better than helping young customers pick out the perfect page turner!

For little readers

We love this year’s selection of gift books for very young children – whether to celebrate a baby’s first Christmas or to read together with an older child, here are our top five for you to enjoy:

The Most Loved Bear by Sam Bratney and with gorgeous illustrations by Sam Usher will no doubt steal many hearts.  The ups and downs of Growly Bear’s long and eventful life will give readers and their audience much to talk about, so we recommend cuddling up with the grandchildren for this one!

How could we resist the President’s Cat (Peter Donnelly) as he makes his way home to Dublin from Kerry passing many famous landmarks along the way? Lovely illustrations and a large font will help younger readers recognise both words and places, and no doubt help nurture a love of books.

From the feel of the lift-the-flap paper to the beautiful hues of the colours in Animalphabet, Julia Donaldson has done it again. This perfect book will introduce very small children to letters and animals and look lovely on their bookshelf too.

The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin aims to help young children cope with scary situations, and gently introduces the idea of a ‘Magic Moment Trick’, without being too overwhelming. Join Freddie as his Nana helps him make a splash for the first time at the swimming pool.

Happy Christmas Pigin is Kathleen Watkins’ follow up to her delightful bestseller from last year, with more adventures for Pigin and his friend Badger in festive Dublin. It’s equally delightful and sure to become a firm Christmas favourite.

6 – 9 years (Emerging readers)

Once again there is a fantastic choice for an age group that is really beginning to enjoy books and the magic of reading. Some, of course, need no introduction, but here they are nevertheless…

Ryan Tubridy, with his famous passion for Christmas Jumpers has written a book: The First Christmas Jumper. He’s bound to have readers in stitches with outrageous sheep puns and hilarity as we follow Hillary the sheep on her Christmas adventure (look out for jokes and more general silliness at the end too!)

One of our current favourites is a ‘three-in-one’ gift edition of Claude ‘everyone’s favourite pup’ by Alex T. Smith. We really love the brilliant and original illustrations in red and black, which are the perfect accompaniment to Claude’s eccentric antics

Large format, illustrated, editions of old favourites always make lovely gifts if children are building a library. High on my list at the moment is Charlotte’s Web, but you can choose from classics such as Roald Dahl and Pippi Longstockings too.

The ‘top picks’ for this age group would be incomplete without the new, and eagerly awaited, titles from Jeff Kinney, Diary of Wimpy Kid Meltdown and David Walliams, The Ice Monster. Both series have their loyal fans and it’s easy to see why they both have such great appeal. Walliams has been likened to Roald Dahl and has well and truly earned his place on millions of bookshelves this time with his tale of old London and prehistoric beasts; meanwhile the hapless Greg Heffley is embroiled in an ‘epic snowball fight’….Read, laugh and enjoy!


There are some lovely new titles to choose from this year in this category.  Here is a small selection that was very tough to narrow down, but it will give you an idea of the exciting range available to bookworms in this age group.

Last year Emma Donoghue’s debut children’s novel was a runaway success, so it’s great to see the follow up: The Lotterys more or Less joining the shelves this Christmas with more quirky escapades from a thoroughly modern family.

For those with a liking for magic and mystery, look no further than The House with Chicken Legs (Sophie Anderson) and The Storm Keeper’s Island (Catherine Doyle). Both of these lovely, original stories are new this year and will capture the imagination – perfect escapism! They also have beautiful covers to entice young readers in.

Lightening girl: Secret Superheros, and darstardly deeds executed by supervillans what’s not to like?! This series is new on the shelves and packed with electric plots and high voltage laughs from Alesha Dixon (a super star in her own right).

Very popular this year for young soccer fans is the Ultimate Football Heros series. Their stories are told through accessible and engaging language, charting their rise to fame. There are many to collect and at the back of each book are tips, quizzes and plenty of insider soccer know-how.

Young Adult

In this category, I’ve chosen a mix of lighter reads together with a few ideas to push readers towards titles they might not be immediately drawn to. There is such a lot of great new writing to explore… just take a deep breath and jump in!

Map of Days is book four in Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine series. Not only is the continuation of Jacob Portman’s story a delight in itself, but the vintage illustrations which pepper the pages (in colour this time) add to this strange and captivating tale.

Bang up to date, and narrated by seven very different voices, Floored (various authors) is rightly described as a ‘unique collaborative novel’. Seven people are crammed into a lift together when events take a turn for the strange and their futures become inextricably linked. This original book features seamlessly blended contributions from some of today’s favourite young adult authors and comes highly recommended.

The Hate You Give (Angie Thomas) was out last year and a runaway success as a film earlier this year. I would urge all young people to read this book – even if they have seen the film. It’s powerful and important, as well as being witty and real; it’s definitely a reflection of some of the more troubling aspects of contemporary US society. The same could be said of A Very Large Expanse of Sea. Set in the aftermath of 9/11, and written from a very personal stance Tahereh Mafi looks at life from the perspective of a young Muslim Woman navigating prejudice, growing up …and a passion for break dancing

Finally, Moonrise comes from one of my favourite authors, Sarah Crossan who has perfected the art of powerful storytelling through poetry.  Don’t be fooled by the idea of flowery lines and sweet sentiment: Crossan is razor sharp with her observations and ability to convey a hard-hitting narrative. It’s a compelling ‘read-it-in –one-sitting’ book which will have readers hooked from the start.

Special Gifts

Inspirational individuals: What a selection there is in Kerr’s Bookshop of books for kids who ‘Dare to be Different’, who are ‘Rebel Girls’, or ‘Good Guys’, or who aspire to be ‘Irish Women who Blazed a Trail’ and many more inspiring characters.  They are all beautifully presented and perfect for dipping in to. Snippets of information can be mulled over and returned to, so  these books are a great idea for shared reading and learning, as there is plenty adults can gain from them too.

For a wander through accessible history and philosophy, look no further than these lovely titles: The Silk Roads (a new history of the World), The Atlas of Heros (tales of heros from myths and legends), Adventures in Philosophy  – stories and quests for thinking heros. Again, there is commendable attention to detail in the presentation and the books would be a welcome addition to any growing library.

Everyone, no doubt, recalls Joanna Donnelly’s memorable commentary on last year’s Storm Orphelia. In her fascinating book The Great Irish Weather Book she takes readers on a whirl wind tour of our weather patterns. It’s packed with information and illustrations similar to the style of the Irelandopedia series which makes it friendly reading for any budding meteorologist.

And finally: from JK Rowling (who else?) comes an unrivalled selection of new hardbacks. The usual slick presentation prevails with all these titles: Tales from Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts, and the screen play from The Crimes of Grindelwald will be on many wish lists both for loyal followers and younger new fans alike.

Merry Christmas and very happy reading from all of us in Kerr’s Bookshop!

Christmas 2018 recommendations for adults:

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and sold fifteen million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and lives in Clonakilty, West Cork.

Lucinda is currently writing The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first five books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister, The Pearl Sister and The Moon Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across the world, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

My top five fiction recommendations this year are as follows:

Last Stories by William Trevor. William Trevor was and is one of my all-time favourite writers and this final collection of his short stories moved me to tears as they always do. He has the gift of being able to make an ordinary life extraordinary and interesting – as a novelist, I aspire to be him.

Elly Griffiths’ Dr Ruth Galloway series. I’ve read the entire series of ten in the past year. The first one is called The Stone Circle, and is set on the North Norfolk coast in England. It introduces our heroine, Ruth, a forensic archeologist with a passion for a Detective Inspector and a glass of red wine! The cast of characters is brilliant, especially Cathbad, the Druid, and I am totally addicted.

Last Letter From Istanbul by Lucy Foley. A gorgeous, atmospheric story that reminded me of The Kite Runner.

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. A beautifully written novel set in the sixties, about a magnificent but crumbling old English house and the strange young couple who move into it.

Origin by Dan Brown. I absolutely love a bit of Dan Brown! He’s a fabulous, epic storyteller and this one is fast-paced and as always, brilliantly researched.”


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