The holiday season is here! It’s the perfect opportunity to build new traditions with your young readers, and to support them as they learn the deeper significance of the holidays they enjoy. With that in mind, we wanted to spotlight a few books that we feel are excellent tools to help young students appreciate the meaning of the winter holidays.
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
Grades 9 and up
If you’ve re-watched the holiday episodes of your favorite shows more times than you can count, this anthology is for you! In it, you’ll find holiday stories from acclaimed young adult writers such as Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Matt de La Peña, and more. The stories range in subject matter and tone, acknowledging the fact that the holidays can be a challenging time for many people while also leaving the reader with a sense of optimism. The collection showcases celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, and Kwanzaa, so there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
By Rachel Gack
This highly informative title is packed with information about the meaning of Kwanzaa (for example, the reason why the holiday’s colors are black, red, and green). The writing style is straightforward and engaging, and accompanying photos, maps, and more support visual learners. “How to Say” sidebars introduce young readers to Swahili words and their pronunciations. Activity pages offer recipes, crafts, and more to encourage students to actively participate in the traditions of the holiday.
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
By Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
The popular characters from Sydney Taylor’s much loved All-of-a-Kind Family chapter books are back in this new picture book set during Hanukkah 1912. The story begins with youngest-sister Gertie complaining angrily when she’s not allowed to help make latkes. As a result, she’s sent to her room, but she can still hear and smell the holiday preparations, introducing the reader to the traditions of Hanukkah along the way. Fortunately, by the end of the story, all is made right between Gertie and her parents, and our young protagonist is given the enviable job of lighting the first candle on the menorah.
First published in 1951, Taylor’s series of chapter books on which this new picture book was based strives to give a heartwarming glimpse into the lives of one immigrant family living in New York’s Lower East Side, and in doing so, to dismantle stereotypes.