Home Children's Courtney’s Choices—ten books for the young reader in your life

Courtney’s Choices—ten books for the young reader in your life

We promised you more round-ups and we’re delivering! Courtney Fitzmaurice has selected ten brilliant children’s books—all from wonderful Irish authors. With a mixture of Christmas-themed books and year-round favourites, there’s something for everyone!

Evie’s Christmas Wishes by Siobhán Parkinson, illustrated by Shannon Bergin, Little Island, €16.99

Christmas is coming and Evie is getting excited. As she rehearses for the school play, decorates the tree, wraps presents, writes to Santa, she is wishing and wishing. This beautifully illustrated picture book from Ireland’s first children’s laureate is the perfect gift for any little ones, capturing the magic of Christmas.

Geansaí Ottó by Sadhbh Devlin, illustrated by Róisín Hahessy, Futa Fata, €10.95

Ottó has style. He loves beautiful clothes. But his Gran hasn’t a clue about fashion. When yet another fluffy jumper arrives in the post, Ottó knows he has to do something. 

Róisín Hahessy’s beautiful illustrations bring added woolly warmth to this charming tale from Sadhbh Devlin: a Mamó who can’t stop knitting and her stylish grandson, whose upmarket sense of fashion does not include wearing homemade jumpers. Well, not until now. It’s lovely to support Irish language books, and this is an accessible read for parents/guardians and their children.

A Dublin Christmas by Nicola Colton, Gill Books, €14.99

To Orla, Christmas means Gran, so when it looks like Gran won’t make it this year, everything feels a lot less festive. And with Christmas spirit everywhere at an all-time low, the whole of Dublin is in darkness.

But then the fairy lights on Orla’s Christmas tree come to life and take her on an enchanting adventure to the National Library, Grafton Street, Stephen’s Green and the GPO. Together, Orla and her new friends help to restore the meaning of Christmas and holiday cheer. This heart-warming festive story brings Dublin at Christmas to life, and is sure to be a favourite this year and beyond.

A Hug For You by David King, illustrated by Rhiannon Archard, Sandycove, €14.95

Adam King stole the hearts of the nation when he introduced us to his Virtual Hug on the Late Late Toy Show last year. He carried his heart-shaped sign during the COVID-19 pandemic to help him stay connected to his teacher while he was learning from home.

He also took it to his regular hospital appointments to show his doctors, nurses, and care staff that he was still giving them a hug, just in a different way. This picture book, inspired by true events, tells the story of one little boy with a big idea that came straight from the heart. With adorable illustrations and a wonderful message, this is a Christmas essential.

The Santa List by Kieran Mark Crowley, Scholastic, €7.99

When Aisling and Joe antagonise their tough new babysitter, she writes to Santa asking for them to be put on the ‘naughty list’. Determined not to be denied their Christmas presents, the pair seek help from the school bully – who always gets presents, and together they steal Santa’s List.

After all, if Santa doesn’t have the list then he can’t tell if you’ve been naughty or nice, can he? But when the kids have a change of heart, they face a race against time adventure to return the list to Mr Claus, before Christmas is ruined. And when they are stopped by someone who absolutely hates Christmas . . . Christmas may not be saved after all!

Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle, Penguin, €15.50

When George stumbles across Marley’s Curiosity Shop, he finds a mysterious and magical snow globe. George and his Scrooge of a dad are soon swept on an incredible adventure to Christmases past, present and future. With help from an enthusiastic elf, a rather grumpy purple reindeer and a very mischievous Nan, can George find a way to bring the joy of Christmas home once again? A fabulous festive story about Christmas, family and magic!

The Great Irish Politics Book by David McCullagh, illustrated by Graham Corcoran, Gill Books, €25

Join political buff David McCullagh and illustrator Graham Corcoran as they guide you through all the things that make our country work. Why do we have a president and a Taoiseach? What is the Seanad and why can only some citizens vote in its elections? Who makes the rules for Ireland and how are they enforced? And what do we do if we want to change them?

This is the perfect book for anyone with an interest in politics, and it’s a great one to dip in and out of. The Great Irish Farm Book is also a great shout!  

Girls Play Too by Jacqui Hurley, Merrion Press, €15

Irish sportswomen have been breaking the mould for a very, very long time. This book breaks the mould once more, as the first ever compendium of stories for children about our best contemporary sportswomen.

Featuring twenty-five dazzling athletes, and with delightful pictures by five wonderful female Irish illustrators, Girls Play Too is a celebration of some of our brightest and best sporting stars, and of all that you can achieve if you try your best and never give up on your dreams. It’s about time that a book like this was written, and who better to do it than Hurley? This is sure to inspire any young sports star.

Ireland: The People, The Places, The Stories by Rachel Pierce, Scholastic, €15.95

A stunning celebration of the rich culture and fascinating history of Ireland featuring ten Irish illustrators. Discover everything that makes the Irish isle so special – from its famous landmarks to its myths and legends, from its epic battles to its incredible music … and everything in between.

Beautiful, full-colour illustration makes this the perfect gift. With sections including Haunted Ireland, Magical Ireland and the Culture of Ireland, it’s a fascinating read and would make the perfect Christmas gift.

The Very Dangerous Sisters of Indigo McCloud by John Hearne, Little Island, €9

Indigo McCloud’s sister Peaches is every adult’s favourite child: pretty, golden-haired, polite and charming. But the children of Blunt know better: Peaches and her sisters are a gang of bullies who will stop at nothing to get their own way. This is the story of Indigo’s battle to stop Peaches.

Leaping across the rooftops of Blunt, Indigo tries to keep one step ahead of his sisters. But when he has to tangle with the likes of deadly spiders, bungling policemen, and a submarine mishap, it’s not easy. When he discovers a hidden basement under Peaches’ room where she and her sisters plot their schemes, he knows he is up against a truly evil genius.

We hope this list will help with your Christmas shopping this year! As cliché as it sounds, the gift of reading is truly magical. As Neil Gaiman said, “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!”