The holiday season beckons to one and all, but it’s kids who truly enjoy its essence. Be it lighting candles at Hanukkah and Kwanzaa or receiving gifts from Santa at Christmas, children know how to keep the spirit of the season alive. Here are some of our top picks to help your child understand the impact and importance, as well as true meaning behind all these aforementioned festivals…
1. Father Christmas’s Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett
A collection of hilarious and bizarre short stories from Terry Pratchett, it includes Father Christmas ending up on the wrong side of the law when he is put on trial for public disturbance, as well as an abominable snowman who ends up as an old lady’s pet. These tales will make you look at Christmas in a whole new way.
2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Who doesn’t know the story of old grump Ebenezer Scrooge? His visits with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future make him realize the importance of being good and kind to all and reignite his Christmas spirit.
3. The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
Similar to the premise of A Christmas Carol, this story revolves around Amelia Wishart. She was the first girl to ever receive a gift from Santa, thus inspiring him to globetrot and deliver gifts every Christmas to kids everywhere. But when her hope begins to shrivel, it is up to Santa to figure out what’s gone wrong and reignite her holiday spirit once more.
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Grinch is a monstrous green creature who wreaks havoc on the citizens of Whoville, threatening to destroy their holiday spirit, but one girl is determined to hold steadfast against his reign of terror and to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. Will she be successful in this endeavour? Will she truly be able to make the Grinch feel something in his cold, black heart? Or will he accomplish his plans of stealing Christmas?
5. A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schultz
It’s Christmas time and the Peanuts gang is gearing up to celebrate the holiday season, but Charlie Brown seems to have doubts and begins to question the true meaning behind Christmas.
6. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
One snowy Christmas Eve, a mysterious train arrives, picking up kids on its way to the North Pole, so they can enlighten Santa on their Christmas wishes.
7. Christmas in the Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
Beautiful illustrations complement the sweet story of how Sweden celebrates Christmas. Kids will learn about the Swedish tradition of baking pepperkakor, a type of gingerbread for both Christmas and the winter solstice celebration, Santa Lucia. A true reflection of Swedish culture that stays with you.
8. Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis
Through this story, Angela Shelf Medearis demonstrates how the 7 principles of Kwanzaa work and came about. After their father passes away, the brothers of the family must band together to solve the riddle of their inheritance without creating chaos or disharmony among the family and retaining the mutual respect that they hold for each other. They must find common ground to do so. The book also contains a brief description of the celebration of Kwanzaa, a festival celebrated by the Black community.
9. Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Maria’s Christmas isn’t going too well. She started her morning making Tamales, but soon realizes that she might have lost her mother’s diamond ring in the batter. Along with her cousins, she sets out to sort out this mess before mum finds out. Kids will learn about how the Latino community celebrates this festival, as well as the importance and value of truth.
10. A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman
Every culture has its own version of cookies and milk. For example, in Philippines, kids set out a dish called puto seko and spiced tea out for the jolly old man. Similarly, young readers will learn about how this tradition differs in 32 different countries and will learn how despite being so diverse, the joy and anticipation towards the festival is never lost among celebrants across the globe.
11. Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg
Dosas are a dish from the South of India, whereas Hanukkah is a festival celebrated by the Jewish community. What happens when these two diverse, multicultural ingredients come together to form a representation of two cultures that looks beyond just the one culture? This is the story of two Indian-Jewish siblings who learn the importance of their respective cultures during the holiday season and this book emphasizes the need for diversity and inclusion without coming off as preachy.
12. King Island Christmas by Jean Rogers
In a remote Eskimo village called King Island, the residents are faced with a conundrum. How will they ever ferry their new parish priest Father Carroll to their island before the sea freezes over and their only route to the island is closed off? They simply cannot imagine Christmas without a candle lit mass at church.
13. The Most Precious Gift by Marty Crisp
Ameer works for the three wise men and partakes in their journey to see baby Jesus. However when it is time to unwrap the gifts for the baby, Ameer is empty handed. But he selflessly parts with his only companion- his dog, Ra. This book not only explores selfless sacrifice, but also melts hearts with its portrayal of the strong bond between a boy and his dog.
14. Who Built the Stable? By Ashley Bryan
I bet this question hasn’t even crossed your mind. This book seeks to shed light on the person who built the stable where expectant mother Mary and Joseph eagerly awaited the birth of their child , baby Jesus. Filled with vibrant and colourful illustrations, this book also seeks to do away with the whitewashing, instead presenting the characters as brown skinned characters of Middle Eastern descent rather than as their false depictions, i.e. the blonde and blue eyed characters we see in a lot of religious media.
15. The Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle
A modern reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas Carol, this book revolves around George who is a young boy with a workaholic father. Post his mum’s death, Christmas is banned at home and never celebrated again. He wishes for the good ol’ days back and when he visits Marley’s Curious Shop with his Nan and stumbles upon an odd snow globe, his wish might just come true. Inside the globe, he sees a happy family similar to his own that is partaking in the festival just like the good old days. That very night, at bedtime, George and his father are swept off to experience 3 Christmases in the past, present and future. The question arises whether this journey will actually help George’s dad mend his Scrooge-esque ways and if George will finally be able to celebrate Christmas in a wholesome way again?
If you enjoyed these, please do share this post with your fellow holiday enthusiasts and we hope you have great year ahead! Stay tuned for more content.