A trend which has gained traction over the past few years on social media is the “four gift rule”. Parents pledge to give their offspring just four presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Now that my kids are 15, finding even 4 gifts at the holidays is a challenge, but I do manage to stuff something to read in my kids’ Christmas stockings.
If you’re looking for holiday books to check out from the library or give as gifts during the the season, I’ve compiled a list of multicultural holiday books. Since we had so much fun cooking around the world this summer, I thought learning about other cultures could be continued into the holidays.
First of all, I want to mention how delightful Patricia Polacco’s books are. Her illustration style is beautiful and her books are always filled with meaning. In November, one of the Message For All Ages books was “Thunder Cake” by Patricia Polacco. She’s written over 50 children’s books so here’s a holiday list for you.
Patricia Polacco’s Holiday Books for ages 5-9 years:
An Orange for Frankie
The Trees of the Dancing Goat
Gifts of the Heart
Uncle Vova’s Tree
Onto the other Multicultural Holiday Books.
Holiday Books for Preschool and Lower Elementary
O Christmas Tree by Vashanti Rahaman. Holiday celebrations in the Caribbean must differ from those in the North because of the tropical climate. In this charming story, Vashanti Rahaman tells how Anslem finds a way to mark the season, even when all the firs are dry and losing their needles. The age range for this book is 2-5 years.
Tom’s Christmas Fish by Rita Törnqvist-Verschuur, illustrated by Marit Törnqvist. The traditional Christmas meal in Prague isn’t turkey or ham, but a special kind of Christmas fish. This book is for 1st – 2nd grade.
Let’s Celebrate Diwali by Anjali Joshe and illustrated by Tim Palin. This picture book features Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist children with their own traditions celebrating Diwali. It’s aimed at preschool through 1st grade.
Latke, the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, tells the adorable story of a newly adopted dog who learns about the traditions of Hanukkah through his new human family. Read it to kids in preschool through 2nd grade.
N is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya, Merry Banks and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. This book gives a Latino twist on the celebration of Christmas. Kids in preschool through 4th grade will enjoy it.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins: 25th Anniversary Edition by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman is a classic story of a Jewish folk hero dealing with saving Hanukkah from a group of Goblins. Find it for preschool through grade 3.
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington and illustrated by Shane W. Evans is the tale of a young rabbit who helps his beloved grandmother celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s good for preschool to grade 3.
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu follows the story of a Chinese American boy who is celebrating the New Year with money in his pocket that he is going to spend. You’ll like it for kids in preschool through grade 3.
Holiday Books for Elementary School Children
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren is a classic Swedish story of the Tomten’s nocturnal visits to all of the residents of wintry farm. Tomten has been reminding children of the promise of spring for decades. This book is for preschool through 3rd grade.
Kevin’s Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard and illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo is the tale of young Kevin learning about the holiday traditions through his grandparents for kindergarten through 2nd grade.
A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman and illustrated by Susan Gal. This recipe book takes children around the world to learn about the holiday treats from different cultures for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Lucia Morning by Ewa Rydaker, illustrated by Carina Stahlberg. In the busy house of the Svennson family, everyone is getting ready for the Swedish holiday of Lucia Day, December 13 for grades 2 to 3.
The Diwali Gift by Shweta Chopra and Shuchi Mehta is an award-winning picture book featuring Indian culture and the traditions around the Diwali holiday for Hindus for grades 1 to 2.
Uncle Monarch And the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman and Rene King Moreno is the story of a young Mexican girl’s understanding of the meaning behind the Day of the Dead. Grades 1 to 4 can learn from this book.
Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri: A Year of Seasonal Japanese Festivities by Setsu Broderick and Willamarie Moore goes through the different celebrations throughout the calendar year in Japan. At the end of the book is a short list of questions to help kids “look more closely” at the illustrations throughout the book. Preschoolers through grade 6 students will enjoy it.
Holiday Chapter Books for Elementary and Middle School Children
Dream Soul by Laurence Yep is about a Chinese-American girl in West Virginia trying to fit in with the other children her age. Her father won’t let her family celebrate Christmas since it’s not Chinese. This is a chapter book for grades 3-7.
Festivals Together by Sue Fitzjohn, Minda Weston and Judy Large is a 220 page book that covers a variety of holidays in different cultures, from China to the Philippines. Craft projects are also included for the various holidays in this book. It’s good for children in grades 2 and up.
Kids Around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands by Lynda Jones not only covers a number of different holidays, including Carnaval in Brazil, but also includes crafts, activities and recipes for children to make on their own. Pick it up for kids in grades 3 to 6.