Children’s Books That Celebrate Diverse Holidays and Traditions

Posted on December 18, 2020

by Kaitlin Weiss

Holidays and traditions can play an important role in the lives of children and families. They can shape their experiences, beliefs, and who they are. It is important for children to understand why family holidays and traditions are important while also appreciating the customs and traditions of other cultures. This way they can have a well-rounded and realistic view of the world. As the holiday season approaches, it is important to remember there are a diverse set of holidays that explore these customs and traditions. Children who have an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of other cultures are more likely to grow up to be adults who are more compassionate, kind, and empathetic. Below are some books that the library has to help introduce children to different holiday cultures and traditions.


Always Together at Christmas by Sara Sargent

For many families that celebrate Christmas, things might look a little different this year, as everyone does their best to take precautions in light of COVID-19. This timely picture book will help young readers see that even when families and communities are physically apart, we can still find creative ways to come together.


Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

It’s Christmas Eve and Maria is excited to help her mother make tamales for their family’s annual Christmas celebration. All dressed up in her mother’s apron and feeling like an adult, Maria is tempted to try on her mother’s diamond ring. After getting caught up in the joy of the holiday and playing with her cousins, Maria realizes her mother’s ring is missing! That’s when she and her cousins come up with a plan to eat all of the tamales in hopes of finding the ring. A fun story with a valuable lesson that incorporates family, teamwork, and Mexican American culture.


Celebrations Around the World by Katy Halford

This book exposes children to different cultures around the globe. Twenty-five events are featured, including both religious and non-religious holidays and festivals. The range of holidays and celebrations included and the little snippets of information provided are just right for kids to understand. A delightful introduction to diverse celebrations around the world.


The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaola

Ever wonder how poinsettias came to be so integrally tied to Christmas? Tomie dePaola brings to life the Mexican legend of the poinsettia, also known as the flor de la Nochebuenao, or flower of the Holy Night. It all began with one thoughtful young girl, before blooming into a colorful tradition.


We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. This is an amazing story that describes a journey through the seasons with a modern-day Cherokee family. Readers learn about Cherokee culture, celebrations, and language. Cherokee history and traditions are also seamlessly woven into the story in a very kid-friendly way. The author, Traci Sorell, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. This picture book helps expose children to Native American perspectives and culture. The book also includes pronunciations for Cherokee words, a glossary, a Cherokee syllabary, and a personal author’s note. There is also a classroom guide available online.


All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins

Travel back to 1912 New York City and watch as preparations for Hanukkah are made by a family on the Lower East Side. When Gertie, the youngest, is not allowed to help prepare latkes, she throws a tantrum. Banished to the girls’ bedroom, she can still hear the sounds (and almost taste the smells) of the family getting ready to celebrate. But then Papa comes home, and she is allowed out of her room to perform the best job of all: lighting the first candle on the menorah.


The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

Stunning illustrations that span centuries accompany Susan Cooper’s classic poem, “The Shortest Day,” which commemorates the winter solstice. From early humans to a modern family celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas, people the world over gather for this yearly ritual: “They carol, feast, give thanks, / And dearly love their friends, / And hope for peace. / And now so do we, here, now / This year and every year.”


Binny’s Diwali by Thrity Umrigar

Binny is excited to talk to her class about her favorite holiday. But she struggles to find the words. Taking a deep breath, she tells her classmates about the fireworks that burst like stars in the night sky, leaving streaks of gold and red and green. She shares with them delicious pedas and jalebis. And she shows them clay lamps, called diyas, which look so pretty, all the children ooh and aah.


Kwanzaa books

Learn about Kwanzaa from a variety of different books here at the library.


Did you see any familiar or favorite books on this list? Come check out these books at the library using our curbside delivery or drop in for a short visit. We are always happy to help you find just the right book for you and your family.

Kaitlin Weiss

Kaitlin Weiss

Kaitlin (Kaiti) worked as a K-5 Media Specialist at two elementary schools in Hammond for 13 years before she became a member of the Community Engagement Team. She enjoys storytimes with the babies, going out into the classroom to teach lessons, and creating fun programs for the community. When not reading a book you can find her spending time with her two nephews, family, and friends, traveling to new places, crafting, and binge watching TV shows.
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