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Wheaton Montessori News

Read Your Way Through the Holidays

Categories: Booklists

The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Jesse Reisch

December 21 marks the Winter Solstice: the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  The Shortest Day is a story that will appeal to a wide range of ages.  Young children will relate to the children in the story who long to play outside after dinner as they did in the summer months.  Older children will love learning about the scientific and historical aspects of this special day.  Everyone will appreciate discovering how the solstice is celebrated in different cultures!

My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz

Written for young children, this book helps explain the traditions and the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.  A great choice for preschool or younger elementary-aged children!

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa by Carolyn B. Otto

This National Geographic book contains lots of photos and helpful information.  Readers will learn about the important symbols and traditions of Kwanzaa along with the seven principles of the holiday.  A special section for parents gives additional information.  Readers at the elementary level would best appreciate this book.

The Night of Las Posadas by Tommy dePaola


Take note, Early Elementary parents!  Tomie dePaola’s memoir, 26 Fairmont Street, was the read-aloud selection recently.  You may have been hearing quite a bit about this author and his life!

Tomie dePaola’s books have won children’s hearts for decades, and The Night of Las Posadas is no exception.  Based on a tradition celebrated in Latin America and among some Latinx communities in the United States, readers unfamiliar with las posadas will learn about this reenactment.  The story is filled with magic and wonder, as two strangers fill in for villagers who have come down with the flu.

Dream Snow by Eric Carle

An old farmer who looks an awful lot like Santa Claus has a barn full of animals that he loves.  One early winter afternoon he falls asleep in his chair and dreams about snow covering them (this part of the book has fun flaps to lift!).  When the farmer awakes, he rushes outside to find that it has snowed, and he is just in time to decorate a tree and lay out gifts for the animals.

Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker

Some of you may remember that last year Mrs. Rogers dressed up for St. Lucia day and presented stories, books, and special baked goods to our Primary classes in honor of St. Lucia Day (which is also Mrs. Rogers’s birthday).  If you’re interested in exploring this holiday further, Lucia Morning in Sweden is a beautifully illustrated way for your family to learn about the Swedish winter holiday.

This story of St. Lucia day describes a family’s giddy activities, brought to life in colorful, full-page illustrations, and also provides sheet music, recipes, and sewing patterns for the costumes traditionally worn by children on this day, when many Swedish people celebrate the legacy of Lucia and the coming of the light with coffee, saffron buns, ginger snaps, and wonderful singin

The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco

Trisha and her family are Jewish, and she loves everything about how they celebrate Hanukkah.  When she stops by her neighbor’s house expecting them to be preparing for Christmas she makes a surprising discovery.  The neighbors are all sick in bed with scarlet fever.  Trisha and her family get to work delivering Christmas to them.

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Hanukkah: With Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels by Deborah Heiligman

This is another great selection from the National Geographic Holidays Around the World collection.  Filled with photographs and fascinating factual information, older children will appreciate learning about the Jewish traditions of Hanukkah.

Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernes-Davenport

Shante is excited to prepare for New Year’s Eve but realizes that her family has forgotten to buy the black-eyed peas they all love.  She heads to the neighbor’s hosue to borrow some and soon finds herself learning about the many New Year’s traditions in her neighborhood.

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

In this beautiful book, Lin tells the story of a family preparing for the Chinese lunar new year.  Readers will learn about rituals like cleaning the house and hanging special poems, food that is eaten, and other ways people celebrate, including a fun dragon parade page!