Despite what you see in the stores and on television this time of year, Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated each December. It’s important for us to realize that and educate ourselves about cultural and religious celebrations that are different from our own. And what’s even more important? Teaching our kids about these customs and traditions–and the earlier, the better! One of our favorite ways to learn is through children’s books, and there are a number of wonderful titles that communicate the meanings of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in a way your children can understand and delight in. Here’s a list of books you’ll want to request from your local library this holiday season!
Chanukah Lights (pictured above) is a poem written by Michael J. Rosen that is beautifully brought to life by the elaborate pop-up illustrations of Robert Sabuda. This enchanting book is often described as a “gift book” or “heirloom book” thanks to an immersive experience that delights the whole family. The illustrations will captivate your child as they portray the wonderfully-told history of Chanukah through different time periods and places.
The similarly-named Hanukkah Lights by David Martin is a more light-hearted, playful tale of Hanukkah fun that your kids will love as well. This is a great board book for preschoolers and younger children. Its bright illustrations and joyful text capture the key points of the Hanukkah celebration without going into more detail than the little ones can process.
For kids who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas (or have buddies who do), we recommend the book My Two Holidays by Danielle Novack. In this story, Sammy is nervous about the fact that most of his friends celebrate just one holiday while he celebrates two. The story presents both traditions clearly and with reverence and teaches kids about the positivity of celebrating both in a fun and charming way that will keep them engaged.
The Sound of Kwanzaa by Dimitrea Tokunbo is a great sensory experience for kids. It lives up to its name and focuses on the sounds of the holiday as a way of explaining what Kwanzaa is all about. Kids will love the colorful illustrations and the simple narrative, as well as the yummy recipe for no-bake Kwanzaa brownies in the back.
L’il Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington offers a more fun, whimsical take on the holiday. Your kiddos will be enthralled by this tale of how L’il Rabbit goes to great lengths to make sure his sick grandmother has a good Kwanzaa even though she can’t participate in their celebrations. This book cleverly educates about the holiday with a sweet story and darling illustrations.
If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson is a great book to teach your children about the holiday’s origins. The illustrations are beautifully done and the narrative is wonderfully descriptive yet short enough to hold your child’s attention.
Ready to read? Get thee to the library or bookstore and snap up what are sure to be your kids’ new holiday favorites! They’ll love spending time reading with mom and dad while learning about their friends’ holiday traditions.
What are your family’s favorite holiday books?