As more and more of us are marrying into non-Latino families and blending together different cultural traditions, our children are likely to be exposed to a number of different year-end holidays beyond Christmas and New Year’s.
To help them understand the holiday traditions of their schoolmates and relatives, here are some children’s books that explore celebrations other than Christmas.
Hanukkah Lights by David Martin • Illustrations by Melissa Sweet • Candlewick • 2009
For younger children, this board book is a good choice. With simple language and colorful illustrations, Martin and Sweet bring the holiday to life by describing some of the elements most commonly associated with Hanukkah such as dreidels, latkes, and the menorah.
Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen • Illustrations by Robert Sabuda • Candlewick • 2011
This stunningly beautiful pop-up book is sure to be a family heirloom. Chanukah Lights takes readers on a journey following the Festival of Lights through place and time. Each pop-up highlights each night’s menorah and complements the lovely poem written by Rosen. Due to the fragile beauty of the pop-ups, I think this book is best suited for older children ages 6 and up.
Read Related: Mixing Traditions for a Merry Bicultural Christmas
The Firefly Star: A Hispanic Tale by Sandra Robbins • See-Mores Workshop • 2002
Few holidays rival Christmas in a Latino household, except for maybe El Día de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day. This celebration honors the three Magi who brought the baby Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Firefly Star version is based on the magical story of El Dia de Los Reyes and how it almost didn’t happen—until Raton Perez, the clever little mouse, and Señora Margarita, the ladybug, save the day. This non-religious storybook celebrates the Hispanic folk tradition and comes with a CD. Best suited for children ages 4 and up.
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola • Puffin • 2001
Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging on the night that Jesus was born. Originally from Spain, this custom spread to the New World and today is commonly celebrated in Latin America and the American Southwest. In this beautiful story by dePaola set in modern-day Santa Fe, New Mexico, readers will learn more about Las Posadas as the characters look for a miracle to save their community celebration.
Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney • Illustrations by Brian Pinkney • Puffin • 1998
Discover the significance of this African-American holiday as the authors share the history of Kwanzaa and explore the elements most closely associated with it. From the meaning of the word to the seven principles behind the holiday, young readers will delight in learning about this festive celebration. This book is both informative and beautiful with stunning illustrations by Brian Pinkney.
Mimi’s Parranda/La Parranda de Mimi by Lydia M. Gil • Illustrations by Hernan Sosa • Piñata Books • 2007
Parrandas are Puerto Rico’s version of Christmas caroling. This tradition finds small groups of friends surprising other friends by showing up at their house late at night, singing and playing musical instruments, such as el cuatro, palitos, and tamboriles. In this delightful story, young Mimi is devastated when she learns her family won’t be able to travel to Puerto Rico this year for Christmas. She’ll miss her annual parranda…or will she? Great for children ages 3 and older.