Holidays Near & Far Booklist
Check out these picture books, which celebrate holiday traditions around the world!
Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story (American Indian / Christmas)
by N. Scott Momaday
A mute Indian child has an extraordinary experience one Christmas when, following a figure who seems to be his beloved dead grandfather, he becomes part of a circle in which he, animals, nature, and all the world join in a moment of peace and good will.
The Polar Express (Christmas)
by Chris Van Allsburg
In this Caldecott Award winner, a young boy boards a mysterious train in the middle of the night and is transported to the North Pole.
Kwanzaa Kids (African American / Kwanzaa)
by Joan Holub
Kwanzaa is here, and there are so many fun things to do! Each day the children light another candle on the Kinara. Then they celebrate the Kwanzaa principle of the day-by working at Granny's market stand, making gifts for family and friends, playing African games, and even having a feast! A perfect way to begin teaching young children about the meaning and traditions of this joyous holiday.
Dream Snow (Christmas)
by Eric Carle
It's December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter's nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow! It is in his dream that he imagines a snowstorm coming and covering him and his animals in a snowy blanket. When the farmer awakens, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something. Putting on his red suit, he goes outside, puts some gifts under the tree for his animals, and presses a button near a Christmas tree, creating a most surprising musical treat for children everywhere.
Hanukkah: A Counting Book (Jewish-American/Hanukkah)
by Emily Sper
Cleverly designed cut-outs teach children to count in English, Yiddish, and Hebrew while explaining the meaning of the symbols associated with the holiday.
The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll (African American / Christmas)
by Patricia McKissack
It's Christmas, and Nella is beside herself with excitement! She and her sisters have been given a real gift—a beautiful Baby Betty doll. But it's hard to share something you've waited your whole seven-year-old life for, and Nella grabs the doll for herself. It isn't long before she discovers that a doll can't do the fun things she and her sisters do together.
Asher and the Capmakers (Eastern European / Hanukkah)
by Eric A. Kimmel
On the night before Hanukkah, Asher is on his way to get an egg for his mother, who is making latkes. But when he gets lost in the woods, he encounters a group of mischievous fairies who take him on an adventure to Jerusalem.
The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes (Jewish-American / Hanukkah)
by Linda Glaser
It's the last night of Hanukkah and there are only three little potatoes left—not enough to make latkes for the relatives. But Rachel has the solution: she will borrow some potatoes from Mrs. Greenberg. And then she will invite Mrs. Greenberg, who is all alone, to share Hanukkah with her family.
Brigid’s Cloak (Irish / Christmas)
by Bryce Milligan
In this retelling of an Irish legend, Brigid is a shepherdess who wears a beautiful blue cloak she received when she was a baby. One day, while praying, Brigid is suddenly transported to the nativity stable in Bethlehem where she offers her coat to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Carlos, Light the Farolito (Mexican / Christmas)
by Jean Carlos Ciavonne
It is Christmas Eve and Carlos’s neighborhood is celebrating Las Posadas, a traditional Mexican reenactment of the Nativity story. Carlos is dismayed to see the procession of neighbors and friends coming up the front walk. Since his grandfather isn’t home yet, it’s up to Carlos to take over the role as Innkeeper. But he's so frightened, he can hardly breathe, let alone sing!
The Last Straw (Christmas)
by Frederick H. Thury
Hoshmakaka is a prideful camel who reluctantly accepts the task of carrying gifts to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Along the way, as crowds of people add gifts to his load, he constantly brags that he is as strong as ten horses. But when a child places a piece of straw (for the manger) on Hoshmakaka’s back, he soon learns the value of humility.
The Legend of Old Befana (Italian / Christmas)
by Tomie de Paola
In this retelling of an Italian legend, the Three Kings invite Befana, a cranky old woman, to come with them to find the Baby King. But she tells them she must finish her household chores first. When her chores are done, she gathers up food and toys to give to the Baby King.
Hanukkah Moon (Mexican / Hanukkah)
by Deborah Da Costa
When Isobel is invited to Aunt Luisa’s for Hanukkah, she’s not sure what to expect. "At Aunt Luisa’s you’ll get to celebrate the Hanukkah Moon," Isobel's father promises. Isobel’s days at Aunt Luisa’s are filled with fun and surprises—a new camera, a dreidel piñata filled with sweets, and a mysterious late night visit to welcome the luna nueva (new moon).
Sam and the Lucky Money (Chinese-American / Chinese New Year)
by Karen Chinn
This year Sam gets to spend his New Year's gift money any way he chooses. Shopping carefully in his favorite Chinatown stores, he is disappointed to find that everything he wants is too expensive. Deciding to forgo a tasty sweet or a new toy for himself, Sam donates his money instead to a barefoot homeless man.
Seven Spools of Thread (African / Kwanzaa)
by Angela Shelf Medearis
When they are given the seemingly impossible task of turning thread into gold, the seven Ashanti brothers put aside their differences, learn to get along, and embody the principles of Kwanzaa.
Trees of the Dancing Goats (Russian American / Hanukkah)
by Patricia Polacco
Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. But one Christmas, Trisha and her family help make the holidays special for their neighbors who are bedridden with scarlet fever. (Based on a true story.)
What's Cooking, Jamela? (South African / Christmas)
by Niki Daly
When Mrs. Zibi arrives to prepare the Christmas meal, Jamela decides to save Christmas, her chicken, from going into the cooking pot. She sets off with the chicken in her arms . . . and a trail of chaos follows. Suddenly it's Jamela, not the chicken, who is in hot water. But, as Jamela proclaims on Christmas's behalf, "You can't eat friends!"
Wood-Hoopoe Willie (African American / Kwanzaa)
by Virginia Kroll
Willie makes music every chance he gets. He will use anything to create the sounds of the rhythms he feels inside him. Willie dreams of playing the African instruments of his ancestors that his Grandpa describes. The Kwanzaa festival and the encouragement of his Grandpa provide the chance for Willie to live out his dreams.