Holidays

peaceful huntsvilleSeeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Written by Hester Bass, Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

There are many great books for children that bring the civil rights era alive for children. This book does just that – but with a wonderful twist. The author tells the story of segregation and prejudice in the deep South with a special emphasis on how people in the town of Hunstville, Alabama used peaceful means to make meaningful change in their community.

Beautiful illustrations mark the pages that show not only what people faced; like being unable to be measured for shoes if you were African-American, but also events such as the “Blue Jean Sunday” protest, a Mother’s Day celebration in an “all-white” park and a sit-in at lunch counter where the police had to arrest a mother and her baby. Over and over, the residents of Huntsville found powerful and creative ways to show their neighbors and the world that an unfair and unequal life was simply not acceptable.

This well-researched book is a great read for older children, especially when studying this era of American history. It’s an up-close and personal look at segregation and one town that chose to follow a non-violent path to making positive and permanent change.

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Christmas DayChristmas Day in the Morning
by Pearl S. Buck

Money is tight at Christmas and a young boy wonders what he can possibly get his Dad to show him how much he loves him. After lot of anxiety and stress, he finally comes up with the best present of all and this tale of a quiet, love-filled Christmas will totally inspire and warm your heart.

Written by author and humanitarian, Pearl S. Buck, this older book (originally published in 1955) has been reissued with beautiful, full color paintings as the illustrations. If you’re looking for a book that focuses on the holiday spirit of love and giving – this is a perfect Christmas book to pick!

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Abuelita secret coverWritten by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Illustrated By Diana Bryer

What a wonderful book!

It starts as young Jacobo enjoys life with his grandmother (Abuelita) in a small town in New Mexico in the United States.  Although the young boy and his grandmother love their community and are active in their Catholic church, some things do seem out of place to Jacobo.  Abuelita cooks differently than her neighbors and she has her own special rituals, like lighting candles on Friday nights.  When a new family moves into the neighborhood who are Jewish, Jacobo starts asking more questions and finds out about his family history – one that started with an exodus of Sephartic Jews from Spain, centuries ago.

This short but powerful tale written by a woman rabbi and scholar; Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, is a perfect way to begin discussions on topics such as multicultural families, Jewish history, tolerance, religious identity and family secrets.

Read it in Spanish:

Las Matzas Secretas de Abuelita 
by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

 

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Mar
30

The Egg Tree


Egg Tree CoverWritten And Illustrated By Katherine Milhous

Everyone’s heard of a Christmas tree – but what about an Easter egg tree?

In this older story, author/illustrator Katherine Milhous takes you on a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country.  You get to visit with young Katy and Carl as they have their first Easter on their Grandmother’s farm, complete with an egg hunt.  But Katy has not been too lucky.  In fact, she hasn’t found a single egg and she retreats to the attic where she finds a real treasure – Easter eggs her grandmother had created when she was a little girl!

Katy’s discovery and the special “egg tree” they made is a wonderful story about family and creating meaningful holiday traditions.  The designs are inspired by authentic Pennsylvania Dutch motifs and the book ends with an egg tree activity that is fun for homes, libraries and classrooms as a special way to celebrate the Spring.

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Written And Illustrated By Patricia Polacco

A kindly old woman named Babuska is famous for her special Easter Eggs.  Each year she wins first prize for the beautiful creations she has crafted over the long cold months of winter in Russia.  But this year may be different.  Babuska has rescued a goose with a wounded wing and; by mistake, it’s broken all her marvelously crafted eggs.  Can an Easter miracle brighten the life  of the little goose and sweet, patient Babuska?

The word “Babuska” in Russian and Polish can mean old woman or grandmother.  You’ll love this tale of a special grandmother and how her kindness and faith make for the most heart-warming Easter ever.

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Written/Retold by Eric A. Kimmel,  Illustrated By Katya Krenina

On a cold, wintery morning, Katrusya and her grandfather discover something alarming.  Small birds had been caught in an unexpected snowfall and are in danger of freezing to death.  The young girl and her grandfather pick up as many as they can and bring them inside.  So does the rest of her family and her entire village.  Even the priest from the local church invites the birds to come inside and have a safe refuge from the cold.

The little birds brighten the spirits of all the villagers during an especially long winter until they need to fly away in Spring.  Can the villagers let them go?  What will come of this simple act of kindness?  Perhaps an Easter miracle?

This is a beautiful book about how small actions can create big results and transform even the bleakest situation.  Illustrated by Katya Krenina, a native of the Ukraine, this book is charming and uplifting, especially in Spring or before the Easter holidays.


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Written by Teresa Bateman

Illustrated By Kelly Murphy

What would you do if suddenly all the luck in the world disappeared?

This is an enchanted and enchanting story about the wee folk of Ireland and one clever heroine named Fiona. The book tells the tale of a Leprechaun king who decides to hide all the luck in the world away from the humans.  The results are terrible as cows will not give milk, chickens won’t lay eggs and potatoes won’t grow in the fields.  And people simply don’t know what to do.  All except clever Fiona.

How can a human outwit a Leprechaun king and make things right? Pick up this charming book and find out how a good heart and a clever mind can sometimes change even the more dire situations.

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Written By Virginia Kroll

Illustrated By Sally Wern Comport

Although Easter is usually a happy time of year, this year seems like it will be quite a challenge for Anya.  Her father has gone off to war and the family has lost their grey goose that lays the eggs they use to make beautiful pysanky – traditional Ukrainian Easter Eggs.  Can an Easter miracle save the day?

This book with it’s soft, heart-warming illustrations is a gentle story showing great love between the family members and a deep abiding sense of God’s presence and love.  The book also shares background information about the art of Ukrainian pysanky and has several easy crafts for bringing this story alive.


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Written by Janice Levy

Have you heard about the Christmas custom in Oaxaca, Mexico called The Night of The Radish (El Noche de Los Rabanos)? As part of the special festivities, people carve large radishes into elaborate scenes – most of which have a Christmas or Nativity theme.  And some are amazing works of art.

In this story, one radish decides that she does not want to become part of this festival and runs away.  A huge chase ensues and a cast of characters chase the radish in a way that resembles the story of the gingerbread man.

Funny, cute and a nice way to talk about how holiday customs differ from place to place, the Runaway Radish is a great book to add a touch of mirth to the holiday season!

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My Two Holidays COVERWritten by Danielle Novack, Illustrated By Phyllis Harris

Sometimes it’s easy to feel nervous when other children are sharing their stories of celebrating Christmas OR Hanukkah.  Sammy isn’t sure what to say because his family celebrates both.  This sweet book, written by a clinical psychologist, shares what it’s like to have a family with two sets of holiday traditions, both of which are loved, enjoyed and respected.

As there are more and more families that blend two (or more) faiths, this type of book is a wonderful way to talk about holiday traditions as well as respect, tolerance and the beauty of sharing our treasured beliefs with the world.

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Written by Michelle Edwards, Illustrated By Stacey Schuett

It’s really hard to celebrate a holiday after a loved one has passed away.  And this family of a dad and two children miss their mom terribly as Chanukah approaches.  Dad wants to come to the rescue and make the special treats – potato latkes – with his kids, but the experience is just not the same.

How does the family come to understand the miracle and beauty of the holiday, despite the sadness?  This story weaves a wonderful, sweet, sensitive Chanukah tale.

Suggested Reading Level – Ages  5 – 7


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Written by Deborah M. Chocolate, Illustration by Cal Massey

What happens when it’s Kwanzaa time?  This book tells the exciting story of this holiday from the perspective of a young boy.  Throughout the days of Kwanzaa, this family dresses in special ways, greet relatives and visitors, listen to stories about the family and from Africa and share wonderful activities that bring everyone together in a very meaningful way.

A beautifully written story, this book for young readers shares special moments in a family’s celebration plus the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a history of the holiday that will inspire any reader.

Highly recommended!


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Written and Illustrated by Karen Katz

Although written for earliest readers, this is a beautiful, informational and inspirational book for any age!  Karen’s Katz’s beautiful illustrations take you through the seven days of Kwanzaa and the activities that one family does to celebrate each day.

It’s wonderful to watch principles or concepts such as “creativity, faith, self-determination, and helping our neighborhood grow” come alive on the pages of this book.  A great book for reading or reading aloud at holiday time to inspire the question… what do the holidays mean to you?

Suggested Reading Level – Ages 3 and up.


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Written by Bhakti Mathur

Illustrated By Maulshree Somani

Several teachers I know recommended this book as a fun way to learn about the holiday of Diwali – through rhymes!  They felt the book was fun, age appropriate and also culturally accurate and respectfully written!  Text and illustrations are adorable and introduce this holiday to readers in a way that is as exciting and understandable.

Highly recommended!


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Written By Verma Jatinder, Illustrated By Nilesh Mistry

This book is less about the holiday of Diwali and more about the exciting story behind it.  The book is a retelling of the “Ramayana”, an age-old Hindu epic tale of  how Prince Rama overcomes the Demon King.  Full of adventure, magic and miracles, this story will delight both young and older readers.

Perfect for reading as part of a Diwali celebration or as a way to learn more about India and Hindu folklore.

 


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By Roger Priddy

A 12 page, beautiful, bright  “touch and feel” board book about Diwali, perfect for the youngest child.

What a nice way to share this joyous holiday with really young children through colorful rangoli and other simple but pleasing, powerful images that share the spirit of this holiday.


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Written by Jonny Zucker, Illustrations by Jan Barger

For Hindu people, Diwali is a very special holiday that celebrates the new year.  Although customs and practices vary from area to area and from North to South India, Diwali is a joyous occasion involving bringing in a new year, making and sharing sweets, gathering with friends and family and telling stories that have deep and powerful cultural significance.

How do people celebrate Diwali?  Beautiful, colorful patterns called rangolis are painted and small lights called “diya” are lit (or modern electric lights are sometimes used as well).  And then there are trips to the temple, small presents, fireworks and much more!  This book is perfect for children of any age. Beautiful pictures and easy to read text share the joy and fun of this special holiday in a way that is sure to appeal to any reader.


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Written And Illustrated by Dav Pilkey

It’s Fall and class trip time!

Eight adventurous young students set off to visit a farm in the country and come home with a surprising new love for turkeys.  How will the teacher respond?  And the farmer?  In a wonderful and whimsical turn of events, the turkeys become part of everyone’s Thanksgiving celebration  – as invited guests instead of main dishes!

I really enjoy books like this that are simple and fun and incorporate kids of various colors and nationalities into a lively story.  This is a sweet, funny, light-hearted book, perfect for reading as part of Fall festivities.

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Here are some of our favorite books on Groundhog’s Day

Did you know what all around the world animals help people in so many different ways – not just in predicting the weather but in so much more.  You can read about it here on DARIA’s multicultural music blog.

Or you can stay cozy in your warm den and curl up with one of the great groundhog books below.

Go To Sleep, Groundhog!
by Judy Cox
Paul Meisel (Illustrator)
Too funny and cute! A groundhog can’t seem to fall asleep when it’s time to hibernate and has a tough time getting up when his own special holiday comes. Lovely illustrations. A great bedtime book!

Ten Grouchy Groundhogs
Kathryn Heling (Author)
Deborah Hembrook (Author)
A cute counting book for young children with some good groundhog facts sprinkled in! You’d be grouchy too if you were in cramped quarters for so long!


Groundhog Day!
Gail Gibbons (author)
Wonderful fun and great facts about groundhogs and the Groundhog’s Day celebration by this popular and prolific children’s book author.


The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun
Wendie C. Old (Author)
Paige Billin-Frye (Illustrator)
A sampler of groundhog facts and a good description of the special day in Punxatawny, PA.

Groundhog Gets a Say
Pamela Curtis Swallow (Author)
Denise Brunkus (Illustrator)
A groundhog thinks his holiday should last more then one day. His animal friends help make his case for the world to know more about groundhogs.

Groundhog Weather School
Joan Holub Joan Holub (Author)
Kristin Sorra (Illustrator)
A groundhog is encouraged to open a weather school and everyone gets to learn more about hibernation, groundhogs and the holiday. Fun characters and playful illustrations.

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Written By Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz, Illustrated By Meilo So

The next book I’d like to recommend was one of our first purchases after we came back from China: Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: a Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities and Recipes, by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz and the Children’s Museum, Boston. This treasure is a reference guide, holiday cookbook, craft book, customs guide, and folktale library is a phenomenal addition to anyone who would like to explore Chinese holidays. Not only does it cover Chinese New Year, but equally expounds on the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. If you are interested in Chinese culture and celebrations, you will love this book.

This book chosen and reviewed by Becky Morales of Kid World Citizen.  There are lots of wonderful resources for learning more about Chinese New Year as well as a host of exciting world cultural traditions at: kidworldcitizen.org

 


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