CHRISTMAS is a time for
poetry, singing and stories read aloud, and some people give a biggish present to the whole family rather than small ones separately.
The Faber Book of Child dren's Songs (50s) would be a big and beautiful present for a musical family, and James Halliwell's The Nursery Rhymes of England and Popular Rhymes of England (Bodley Head 42s each) would make handsome, keepable presents, at once solid and interesting. for special occasions.
More modestly, there's 0 Jemimat, edited by Molly Cox (BBC 12s), poems from the programme Play School, charmingly illustrated, Or there are really good anthologies that would span the whole age range of a family and please the grown-ups as well: Ann Thwaites' particularly lively Allsorts (Macmillan 15s1. or Gabrielle Maunder's rather more uneven Galaxy (Oxford 30s); Marni Hodgkin's Young Winter's Tales (Macmillan 30s), with stories and poems of a high standard for elevens/ear-olds and upwards, or the handsome Author's Choice (Hamish Hamilton 30s), stories chosen by seventeen children's writers, all of whose choices I'd respect.
Family books, again, may be the kind that are kept for years, much handled and passed around till they become part of the family furniture and background. If you're aiming to give this sort of present I recommend Antonia Fraser's King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Sidgwick and Jackson 30s), retellings that are lively and eloquent by turns and have pictures in fizzing colours by the author's twelve-year-old daughter, Rebecca.