Winter Holiday Books for Kids!

Recommended titles for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more

Cover image of the book The Shortest DayThe winter holiday season is here! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, all of the above, something else or nothing at all, there are many wonderful kids’ books available at DCPL for the winter season and December holidays. Here are a few of my favorites for the holidays, in no particular order!

The Sound of Kwanzaa. By Dimitrea Tokunbo, pictures by Lisa Cohen. Beautiful bold painting illustrate this enjoyable Kwanzaa book. It takes us through the seven days of Kwanzaa and the guiding principles behind it, with pictures and rhythmic text that gives us a snapshot view of what each principle represents—and it’s fun! Includes explanatory notes, a pronunciation guide, a Kwanzaa recipe and a bibliography. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Morris’s Disappearing Bag. By Rosemary Wells. It’s time to open the Christmas presents; what will Morris get? A hockey stick like his big brother? A beauty set like his big sister? No, he gets a mysterious bag that makes you disappear when you pull it over your head, and chaotic silliness ensues as everyone tries it out! Recommended for ages 3 and up.

The Donkey’s Dream. By Barbara Berger. A donkey carrying a pregnant woman across the desert dreams he is carrying fantastic things: a beautiful fountain, a glorious city, a rose. And when they arrive in Bethlehem and the baby is born, we understand that the donkey’s dreams of fantastic things were true, because he was carrying Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is a fabulously beautiful illustrated version of the Nativity story, from the point of view of the little donkey. Recommended for ages 3 and up.

It’s A Miracle!: a Hanukkah Story Book. By Stephanie Spinner, pictures by Jill McElmurry. Owen is his family’s Hanukkah OCL (Official Candle Lighter) this year, after many years of waiting to be old enough. Each night of Hanukkah, his grandma tells him a new and exciting miracle story (including some about cowgirls and aliens). This is an unusual Hanukkah book, and a very enjoyable one. Includes basic information about Hanukkah at the back of the book. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Hanukkah Lights. By David Martin, pictures by Melissa Sweet. A Hanukkah board book, and a very nice one, although completely secular. It’s perfect for introducing Hanukkah to young children who’ve heard about it from friends or to read aloud in a multicultural setting , but don’t count on it to explain the reasons for celebrating Hanukkah—there’s not one word about miracles.  Ages 2 and up.

Seven Candles for Kwanzaa.  By Andrea Davis Pinkney, pictures by Brian Pinkney. A beautifully illustrated book that explains in fairly simple language what Kwanzaa is, and what the various symbols (Kinara, Mkeka, etc.) represent. Ages 6 and up.

The Shortest Day. by Wendy Pfeffer, pictures by Jesse Reisch. There are not a lot of kids' books about the Winter Solstice. This is one, however, and it's quite nice. It covers both the natural phenomenon that is the winter solstice, and the history of sun worship and the celebration of the winter solstice as a festival and a ceremony to remind the sun to come back. The pictures are nice and offer lots of variety—ancient Egyptians worshiping the sun to kids playing in the snow and everything in between--and there’s lots of good solid information presented in a reasonably simple fashion. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Reviewed by Polly, Children's Librarian