The winter holidays came about so fast this year, that we almost forgot to put out a list of some of our favorite books! Our family celebrates Christmas; however, our personal shelves are filled with books of many different traditions. It is important to focus on your own holidays and traditions, but it’s also a tremendously beautiful thing to learn about the customs of others. Books ultimately help children to become accepting and empathetic of all different cultures and religions.
Favorite Hanukkah books
Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel and Mike Wohnoutka: Bubba Brayna makes the most AMAZING latkes. On the first night of Hanukkah, the scent of them leads a bear to her home. She invites him in thinking it is her rabbi due to her poor hearing and sight. The play dreidel, light the menorah, and have a delicious meal together. All of a sudden her actual guests show up, but there is no food left! A personal favorite of my daughters, this book is a fun look at the traditions of Hanukkah.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg: We LOVE that this book features a multiethnic home in which their Indian-Jewish family fries dosas for Hanukkah as opposed to latkes. Highlighting various family dynamics during the holidays is such a beautiful way to celebrate all people.
Gracie’s Night; A Hanukkah Story by Lynn Taylor Gordon: This book highlights one of the biggest mitzvot, which is to help those who are less fortunate. Gracie comes to a crossroads after buying her family some gifts for Hanukkah and then realizing there are people who have less than her. The perfect book to help teach children about the power of giving.
Our favorite Christmas books
Twas Nochebuena: A Christmas Story in English and Spanish by Rosanne Greenfield and Sara Palacios: This is a fun spin on Twas The Night Before Christmas that explores a Latino family’s traditions on Christmas Eve. The PERFECT addition to any Christmas bookshelf.
The Nutcracker in Harlem by T.E. McMorrow and James Ransome: A beautiful retelling of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King that takes place during the Harlem Renaissance.
How Yoga Saved Christmas by Katie Stoeckeler: Join Miss Katie and her students as they journey to the North Pole to teach Santa and his elves about the importance of yoga. This book is a beautiful reminder that the holidays can be stressful and there is A LOT we can do through mindfulness to combat those added stressors.
Our favorite Kwanzaa books
The People Remember by Ilbi Zoboi: This story is such an important read for all people of all ages. The story highlights the principles of Kwanzaa while also educating the reader on the history of the Transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans.
Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford: This book was always a favorite of mine to share with my students. Kayla is worried that her brother will not make it home for the Kwanzaa festivities. The author takes you on an enjoyable and very educational ride while the characters figure out how they will all celebrate together.
Kwanzaa Gets An A by Steven C. Theford: This is a celebratory book that focuses on inclusion and joy. If you are looking for a book picture book that tells the story of Kwanzaa, this is the one!