It will come as no surprise that we are big advocates of giving books as presents, at Christmas and whenever possible. With a lifespan that stretches far beyond Christmas morning, books can hold their own for years, to be treasured and shared among siblings, cousins and friends. They’re a companion, a comfort, and a real source of joy.

What’s more, every book bought this Christmas means one more happy writer, illustrator and bookseller who can keep on doing what they love. We are lucky in Ireland to have a thriving community of children’s artists who are passionate about creating excellent books for their readers. Each book under the tree helps them to continue sharing their stories, now and for many Christmases to come.

At Children’s Books Ireland, it’s our mission to help every child find the right book for them, one that reflects their interests and can be read in a way that they enjoy. As our theme for this article, we’ve chosen a topic requested every time we meet young readers and their families – animals.

We all know at least one absolutely animal-obsessed child. This is for them, but it’s also for the conker-collectors, the outdoor adventurers and everyone who’s curious about the endlessly interesting planet we call home. Hand-picked and expertly reviewed by the team, there’s a book in here for every kind of reader, whether they like funny books, big books of facts, comic books or leabhair as Gaeilge. Many are part of a series, with heaps more to snap up if they’re a hit at home.

If you’re in need of further inspiration for your Christmas shopping, check out, which is crammed with hundreds more great books for all ages.

From all the team at Children’s Books Ireland – happy reading, and a very happy Christmas.


Mary Murphy

Walker Books (HBK) 32pp £12.99 (€14.99) ISBN 9781406391749

Chirp! Mary Murphy. Walker Books (HBK) 32pp £12.99 (€14.99).

Written and illustrated by Mary Murphy, Chirp! is a beautiful picturebook. Over the course of the book dawn breaks, and colour is used to show this transition wonderfully. Indigo gives way to pinks and purples, which eventually turn into the colours of the morning sun. We learn that every bird has a song to sing, all coming together in the glorious dawn chorus. The language of birds and use of rhyme mean that Chirp! is a joy to read, at any time of day. (Age 0–3)

You Can Do It, Rosie!

Elena Browne, illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

The O’Brien Press (HBK) 32pp €12.99 ISBN 9781788492898

You Can Do It, Rosie! Elena Browne, illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald The O’Brien Press (HBK) 32pp €12.99

Rosie is an old dog, and when her best friend Aoife wants to go on a big adventure, she worries she might be too tired. Together, they set out on a special walk to the park, passing friends old and new as they go. Everyone has the same words of encouragement; ‘You can do it, Rosie!’. This is a lovely, gentle picturebook about friendship across all ages, and finding adventure in the everyday. (Age 3–6)

Amuigh Faoin Spéir

Sadhbh Devlin, illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

Futa Fata (HBK) €10.95 ISBN 9781910945940

Amuigh Faoin Spéir. Sadhbh Devlin, illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald Futa Fata (HBK) €10.95

We love giving a leabhar as Gaeilge for Christmas. Even if Irish isn’t the language of your home, picturebooks are a great way to introduce it, and luckily, there are heaps to choose from. Amuigh Faoin Spéir is the latest story from award-winning author Sadhbh Devlin, and one many families will recognise. It’s the weekend, and young Rua would like nothing more than to sit on the couch all day. But Mamaí has other ideas! Rich, full-colour illustrations from Brian Fitzgerald bring Devlin’s story to life, and take the reader straight into the great outdoors. (Age 3–6)

Billy Conker’s Nature-Spotting Adventure

Conor Busuttil

The O’Brien Press (HBK) 32pp €14.99 ISBN 9781788492843

Billy Conker’s Nature-Spotting Adventure, Conor Busuttil, The O’Brien Press (HBK) 32pp €14.99

Meet Billy Conker: explorer, conservationist and your new guide to the natural world. This lovely book is as visually appealing as it is informative, full of detailed, double-spread illustrations that young readers will pore over for hours. Each habitat is depicted in Busuttil’s distinct illustrative style and comes complete with an “explorer’s checklist” to tick off with each new creature they encounter. Billy Conker is the perfect companion for wintery walks, from Christmas Day well into the new year. (Age 3-6)

Bad Panda: The Cake Escape

Swapna Haddow, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

Faber & Faber (PBK) 176pp £6.99 (€8.06) ISBN 9780571352456

Bad Panda: The Cake Escape, Swapna Haddow, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey, Faber & Faber (PBK) 176pp £6.99 (€8.06)

Our favourite Bad Panda is back with a new adventure, and ready to put her naughtiness to good use. After a particularly brilliant banana-throwing competition, Lin’s best friend Fu goes missing from the zoo. Together with Malo the monkey and their new racoon friend, Lin must race to save him from the Horrid Human’s clutches. Genuinely funny, heartfelt and delightfully full of mischief, this is the second Bad Panda book from the bestselling creators of the Dave Pigeon series. (Age 6-9)

Bunny vs Monkey: Machine Mayhem!

Jamie Smart

David Fickling Books (HBK) 256pp £12.99 (€14.99) ISBN 9781788452854

Bunny vs Monkey: Machine Mayhem! Jamie Smart, David Fickling Books (HBK) 256pp £12.99 (€14.99)

Perfect for fans of Dog Man and Captain Underpants, Bunny vs Monkey is a hit graphic novel series, filled with madcap animal mayhem. In this latest installation, genius inventor Skunky introduces the gang to “Metal Eve”, his robot creation who’s ready to learn everything she can about life in the woods. Frenetic, fierce and very funny, this book is packed with wacky short stories. Each can be dipped into at random, a feature that entices even the most reluctant of readers. (Age 5-8)

A Wild Child’s Book of Birds

Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls

Macmillan Children’s Books (HBK) £14.99 (€17.29) 64pp ISBN 9781529070750

A Wild Child’s Book of Birds, Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls Macmillan Children’s Books (HBK) £14.99 (€17.29)

Another book to take exploring, this gorgeous gift book comes from Dara McAnulty, author of the award-winning Diary of a Young Naturalist. Here, Dara takes younger readers through a year in the life of the birds found in Ireland and Britain. Season by season, we learn about migration patterns, birdsong and the science of flight, and how we can welcome more birds into our gardens and green spaces. Paired with full-colour illustrations from Barry Falls, this book is the full package. (Age 6–8)

Curious About Crocodiles

Owen Davey

Flying Eye Books (HBK) 40pp €15.50 ISBN 9781838740375

Curious About Crocodiles, Owen Davey, Flying Eye Books (HBK) 40pp €15.50

This illustrated guide is packed with facts about the biggest reptiles on earth, their “stealthy lifestyles” and many alarming features. Well-researched and presented with Davey’s signature eye for design, Curious About Crocodiles is here to answer every croc-related question a child could have – and some they hadn’t even imagined. Parents and guardians will be glad to hear that this is part of Flying Eye Books’ “About Animals” series, with plenty more books out there for the relentlessly curious reader. (Age 5-8, 9-11)

The InvestiGators: Heist and Seek

John Patrick Green

Macmillan Children’s Books (HBK) 208pp €10.99 ISBN 9781250849885

The InvestiGators: Heist and Seek, John Patrick Green, Macmillan Children’s Books (HBK) 208pp €10.99

More reptilian madness! Mango and Brash are The InvestiGators, a “super spy alligator duo” working to fight the forces of evil. When art masterpieces start to go missing, the pair go undercover to save the city art museum’s fundraising gala from a thieving mastermind. Sometimes things go wrong, but that’s to be expected when you travel by toilet flush. The sixth book in John Patrick Green’s smash-hit series, this is a massively fun caper that young readers will race through. (Age 5-8, 9-11)

If the World Were 100 Animals: A Visual Guide to Earth’s Amazing Creatures

Miranda Smith, illustrated by Aaron Cushley

Farshore (PBK) 32pp £6.99 (€8.06) ISBN 9780593372357

If the World Were 100 Animals: A Visual Guide to Earth’s Amazing Creatures, Miranda Smith, illustrated by Aaron Cushley Farshore (PBK) 32pp £6.99 (€8.06)

There are over 20 quintillion animals in the world. Imagine that! In this brilliant new picturebook, Miranda Smith saves you the trouble and shrinks it down to just 100, spread across all seven continents. Big questions about biodiversity and conservation are sensitively raised, with illustrations from Northern Ireland native Aaron Cushley bringing lots of fun to the proceedings. This is a book that readers will keep coming back to, and great for sharing with older and younger siblings. (Age 5-8, 9-11)

Children’s Books Ireland is the national organisation for children’s books in Ireland. Its vision is simple: “every child a reader.” Through its many activities and events, the organisation connects young readers with books they’ll love, helping to inspire a lifelong love of reading and the many benefits that it can bring. Children’s Books Ireland believes that everyone has a story to tell. By giving the gift of reading, you can help a child discover theirs this Christmas. Donate now at childrensbooks

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