Seeds 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.
Christmas 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!
Written 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
One Easter morning, Katy and Carl went on an egg hunt through Grandmom's house. Katy couldn't find anything until she went up to the attic. And there she discovered a very special set of eggs...
Grandmom had painted them when she was a little girl. And now, she hung them from the branches of a tiny tree -- an Egg Tree! So began a very special Easter tradition.
This Caldecott Medal-winning story of a Pennsylvania Dutch Easter will surely inspire children to make Egg Trees of their very own.
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.
Old Babushka, known throughout all of Moskva for her beautifully painted eggs, is preparing her eggs for the Easter Festival when she takes in an injured goose. She names the goose Rechenka, and they live happily together until one day when Rechenka accidentally overturns a basket, breaking all of Babushka's lovingly crafted eggs.
But the next morning Babushka has a surprise awaiting her in the basket. She cries: "A miracle!" It is one of many in this charmingly told tale of friendship and caring.
With vibrant illustrations, Patricia Polacco has joyously re-created the flavor of Old Moscow and its festivals. The eggs, stunningly colored and intricately designed, are authentic reproductions of eggs painted in the Ukrainian style. Rechenka's Eggs is a timeless story of classic beauty.
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.
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.
Villagers take in a flock of golden birds nearly frozen by an early snow and are rewarded with beautifully decorated eggs the next spring.
The greedy Leprechaun King has locked away all the luck in Ireland and the whole country has fallen in to despair. Through clever charades, Fiona outwits the Leprechaun King and restores luck to the land.
Luminous illustrations add to the magic and wonder of this original folktale.
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.
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.
A Ukrainian Celebration of New Life in Christ Children love coloring Easter eggs, and here's a story to explain one of the origins of this tradition. In early nineteenth-century Ukraine, Christians celebrated Easter by exchanging colorful, hand-decorated pysanky eggs---but with Papa away at the war and Mama struggling to make ends meet, Anya's family was too poor to buy eggs to decorate one year. That is, until Anya discovered an abandoned nest of goose eggs and began planning an Easter surprise for her family. But God had an even better surprise in store, and when the eggs unexpectedly began to hatch, Anya learned what the Easter story teaches: spring brings gifts of myriad new beginnings, just as the risen Christ gave the gift of new life to us all. Each Traditions of Faith book features a story of how significant Christian traditions emerged in cultures around the world, with a note about the origin and history of the tradition, and offers ideas and activities each family can adopt as its own.
Don Pedro wants to care the best radish sculpture for the Nigh of the Radishes. One radish won't cooperate. Written in a style reminicent of the Gingerbread Man. Based on the annual festival in Oaxaca, Mexico. Bilingual edition in English and Spanish.
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!
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
A family prepares to celebrate Chanukah for the first time since Mama died — in this heartfelt, bittersweet tale that will resonate with anyone who has ever faced an empty chair at the holiday table.
Three plates, Selma reminded herself. Just three plates this Chanukah.
For Selma and her little sister, Dora, this is their first Chanukah without Mama. When Papa comes home carrying a big bag of potatoes and all the ingredients for latkes, Selma is worried. Mama always made the Chanukah latkes. Could they make them without her? In Michelle Edwards's poignant story, illustrated with Stacey Schuett's warmly glowing artwork, Selma comes to realize that while Chanukah — and especially latkes — will never be the same without Mama, Selma can still celebrate, and will always remember.
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.
During the last week of December, Kwanzaa is a time to dress up in African clothes and gather together with relatives from all over the country. Grandma brings special things to eat, Grandpa lights the candles, and everyone in the family celebrates their heritage.
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.
A simple way to get acquainted with Kwanzaa
During the seven days of Kwanzaa we celebrate the importance of family, friends, and community. This warm and lively introduction to a very special holiday will help even the youngest children join in!
Author and illustrator Karen Katz kicks off a wonderful new series of picture books for the very young with My First Kwanzaa. The series will offer a simple and fun way to get familiar with the traditions of holiday celebrations from different cultures.
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.
Brilliant firecrackers lighting up the night, Diyas twinkling like stars—what a sight! This is Diwali, in all its glory, as told to Klaka, by his Ammaùa magical story. First, the celebration of Prince Rama, his homecoming, and his victory over Ravana, the evil demon king. Next, a story about Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, who rewards her true devotees with fortune and good health.
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.
The Story of Divaali is a wonderful rendition of the "Ramayana," an age-old Hindu epic filled with magic, miracles and adventure. The compelling story tells of a young prince Rama who overcomes Ravana the Demon King. Out of his triumph, Divaali, the Indian festival of lights, is born. The powerful narrative is perfectly complemented by the jewel-like illustrations of Nilesh Mistry. Drawing on the versions told to him in childhood by his parents, Jatinder Verma brings the essence of this great Indian epic to life for a new generation.
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.
Book by Priddy, Roger
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.
Books in the Festival Time series describe the activities of typical families as parents and children celebrate some of their culture’s major holidays. Attractive color illustrations on every page will appeal to younger children. The simply yet delightfully told stories describe the festivities while giving children background information about holidays in many different cultures. A two-page spread at the back of each book contains information for parents, and includes suggestions on ways to communicate the holiday’s meaning to kids. Diwali is the Hindu five-day festival of lights that welcomes in the lunar new year. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin, or Aasho, which occurs in October or November, depending on the lunar calendar. During the festival, parents tell stories that relate to the holiday, exchange gifts of sweets, light candles, and attend elaborate fireworks displays. The holiday is marked by an abundance of lights displayed in homes and businesses.
Let the Scholastic Bookshelf be your guide through the whole range of your child's experience--laugh with them, learn with them, read with them! Twelve classic, best-selling titles are available now.
The incomparable Dav Pilkey adapts Clement Moore's classic Christmas poem to tell his wacky Thanksgiving tale. The day before Thanksgiving, eight boys and girls take a field trip to a turkey farm. They have fun playing with eight exuberant turkeys but are shocked to learn that Farmer Mack Nuggett plans to kill all the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners. So the children decide to smuggle all the turkeys home, and all their Thanksgiving dinners become vegetarian this year. The turkeys' lives are saved!
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.
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!
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.
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
Filled with delectable recipes, hands-on family activities, and traditional tales to read aloud, this extraordinary collection will inspire families everywhere to re-create the magic of Chinese holidays in their own homes. They can feast on golden New Year's dumplings and tasty moon cakes, build a miniature boat for the Dragon Boat Festival and a kite at Qing Ming, or share the story of the greedy Kitchen God or the valiant warrior Hou Yi.
This stunning compilation from bestselling cookbook author Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz of the Children's Museum, Boston, is the perfect gift for families that have embraced Chinese holidays for generations--and for those just beginning new traditions.