I don’t know about you, but as soon as we get past Halloween I’m ready to get into the winter-holiday spirit! And if you ask me, there’s no better way to do this than by cozying up with a good book.
If you’re looking for some holiday book ideas to read with your little ones this year, you’ve come to the right place. This list of five children’s holiday books goes beyond Santa and Rudolph to highlight some more diverse holiday stories, each with its own special message to share.
1. Snicker’s Wish by L.B. Anne
First on my list is L.B. Anne’s Snicker’s Wish, which tells the story of a girl born on Christmas day. Snicker, nicknamed for her mother’s favorite cookie, is granted one extraordinary wish on her birthday each year — but it must reflect pure love and selflessness. This comes into play when a young boy named Jared realizes his sister is missing; will holiday magic be enough to reunite them?
Snicker’s Wish is a heartfelt tale of hope and love, demonstrating the miracles that can happen through simple acts of kindness. The unique concept along with the story’s twists and turns make this an exciting read, perfect as a Christmas stocking stuffer for kids aged 9-12.
2. Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Kwanzaa, the African American celebration of community, family, and culture, takes place annually. In Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa, Donna Washington’s well-crafted story and Shane Evans’ vibrant illustrations beautifully capture this holiday’s spirit.
The story commences with our titular Li’l Rabbit struggling to find his place among the celebrations. Still determined to play his part, he decides to do everything he can to find exactly the right gift for Granna Rabbit. When his family and friends come together and offer a helping hand, Li’l Rabbit experiences the true meaning of Kwanzaa after all.
With some characters who celebrate Kwanzaa and others who don’t, this book is a great way to introduce the holiday to any eager young reader! The bright, textured illustrations and explanations of potentially new concepts also make this children’s book an ideal classroom read for the holiday season. Bonus points for the author’s fabulous author bio, stating that she “uses vivid facial expressions, non-pedestrian movement, and vocal pyrotechnics to bring her stories to life. She has been called “a walking Disney movie” and told she was “better than television!
3. The Christmas Truck by J.B. Blankenship, illustrated by Cassandre Bolan
Dad, Papa, and their son hope to spread Christmas cheer to a child less-fortunate in The Christmas Truck, a touching picture book by J.B. Blankenship. It’s a story that marvelously embodies the generosity of the season, with beautiful illustrations by Cassandre Bolan that are sure to enthrall any young reader’s imagination.
Diverse holiday books that aren’t completely based on their own diversity can be hard to come by — that’s what makes The Christmas Truck so refreshing. The “two dads” plot point is not at all what drives the story forward and isn’t treated as anything unusual or different; instead, it’s the entire family’s mission and actions that we’re eager to watch unfold. If you’re looking for a low-key way to introduce nuclear-family children to all the different types of families, this book could be the answer.
4. Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas celebrates the merging of two cultures that aren’t often pictured side-by-side in children’s books. Indeed, with an Indian mom and a Jewish dad, Sadie and her brother love their special holiday traditions — like tasty Indian dosas instead of latkes for Hanukkah. But when the family gets locked out of the house at the height of their celebration, will they be able to enjoy their dal-stuffed treats?
This funny, sweet children’s story not only covers the unique cultural ground but also sibling relationships and how families can work together to solve a problem. With illustrations by Anjan Sarkar that are bound to make your mouth water, this book is a lovely way to embrace new cultures this holiday season.
5. N Is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks
Christmas traditions look different all over the world — from the Giant Lantern Festival in the Philippines to Krampus (the Christmas devil) in Austria. In N Is for Navidad, Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks introduce some Latino Christmas traditions with catchy rhymes and heartwarming illustrations.
Don’t worry if you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker, either — the book comes with a handy pronunciation guide and translations for each alphabetical concept. Whether it’s read in the classroom or at home, this holiday book is sure to open children’s eyes to a culture outside of their own, or allow them to share their own family traditions with friends.
Whatever holidays you’re celebrating this year, it’s always fascinating and fun to learn about other cultures and traditions — and hopefully, this list has given you a great place to start. Don’t forget that you can look these books up in your local independent bookstores, instead of Amazon, to support a small business. Happy holidays and happy reading!
A very special thank you to guest writer Rose Atkinson-Carter. Rose is a writer with Reedsy, where she advises authors on all things writing and publishing, from editing and finding a literary agent to figuring out standard book sizes. She lives in London.