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Selected Books for December Celebrations

14 Books for December Celebrations

Warm your hearts with these holiday stories, from old favorites to new delights. These recommended books for kids ages 3-9 years old are about generosity, love, and friendship, and are perfect for the season, no matter what traditions you celebrate!

A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World

By: M.E. Furman
Illustrated by: Susan Gal
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Young readers travel across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. Head to the Philippines, where children leave out puto seko cookies and ginger tea for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie; then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you've returned home, the journey's still not over — you'll find recipes for children to bake some of Santa's cookies for themselves.  

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

By: Mitali Perkins
Illustrated by: Sara Palacios
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

It's almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico. For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven't seen in years. 

Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish

Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish

By: Emily Sper
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, celebrates the rededication of the Jewish temple after a group of ancient heroes defended their right to worship as they wished. This handsome little counting book honors the most joyful of Jewish holidays, and teaches readers how to count from one to eight in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

By: Robert Barry
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Mr. Willowby, the unwitting hero of this Christmas classic, looks quite a bit like the little mustachioed mascot from Monopoly. But as befits a Yuletide tale, this diminutive millionaire turns out to be a good bit more generous.

N Is for Navidad / La N es de Navidad

N Is for Navidad / La N es de Navidad

By: Susan Middleton Elya, Merry Banks
Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join a joyous Latino celebration of Christmas from A to Z (angel to zapatos), enjoying the sights and symbols of the holiday. The book features a bilingual poem in English and Spanish. Additional explanations and Spanish holiday words conclude this energetic book with colorful and vibrant illustrations.

Seven Candles for Kwanzaa

Seven Candles for Kwanzaa

By: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Although Kwanzaa commemorates an ancient African harvest ritual, it is a relatively new holiday in North America. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa comfortably explains the origins, language, and daily themes of this warm and festive seven-day holiday.

The 12 Days of Christmas

By: Rachel Isadora
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Set in Africa, this beautiful rendition of the classic Christmas carol has a unique twist: colorful icons illustrate the various gifts repeated in each verse of this cumulative song, creating a rebus-style text that gives young children a fun way to follow along and chime in with the lyrics. Detailed collage illustrations, comprised of colorful kente cloth and cut paper, feature tribal drummers and dancers, traditional clothing and native wildlife.

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

By: Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
Illustrated by: Ellen Beier
Genre: Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Virginia's coat is too small and hardly protects her from the frigid South Dakata winter. As Christmas approaches, all the children on the Sioux reservation look forward to receiving boxes full of clothing sent by congregations in the East. Virginia spots a beautiful gray fur coat but holds back tears as it is claimed by one of her classmates. Later, Virginia can't believe what Mama brings home. Based on an event from the author's childhood, this picture book captures the giving spirit of Christmas.

The Gifts of Kwanzaa

The Gifts of Kwanzaa

By: Synthia James
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Habari gani? What news? Synthia Saint James presents the language and origins of Kwanzaa with enticing writing and bold pictures that honor the people and colors of Africa.

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

By: Clement Moore, Tasha Tudor
Illustrated by: Tasha Tudor
Genre: Fiction, Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote The Night before Christmas for his own children. Now, of course, his poem is read aloud to children around the world who are anticipating Santa's arrival.

The Polar Express

The Polar Express

By: Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrated by: Chris Van Allsburg
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. This holiday classic earned a Caldecott Medal.

The Tomten

The Tomten

By: Astrid Lindgren
Illustrated by: Harald Wiberg
Genre: Fiction, Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

From Swedish folklore comes the story of the tomten, a little gnome who watches over us while we sleep. Read this heartwarming version, from the author of Pippi Longstocking, and celebrate a time-honored tradition for the Winter Solstice.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats

The Trees of the Dancing Goats

By: Patricia Polacco
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Polacco has a warm, colorful illustrative style she applies to what at first seems the simple story of a Jewish girl, Trisha, and her Christian neighbors, whose bout with scarlet fever at Christmas threatens to ruin Trisha's Hanukkah. Trisha and her family respond with a loving gesture that is rewarded in kind.

Tree of Cranes

Tree of Cranes

By: Allen Say
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The narrator recalls his first Christmas in Japan and why his mother decorated a tree with a thousand paper cranes as she relives her holidays in California. Based on a family story, Say's illustrations evoke a holiday in two cultures.

Zigazak: A Magical Hanukkah Night

Zigazak: A Magical Hanukkah Night

By: Eric Kimmel, Jon Goodell
Illustrated by: Jon Goodell, Eric Kimmel
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Is Hanukkah really all about dancing dreidels and high-flying latkes? Maybe not, but Eric Kimmel and Jon Goodell have put these devilish phenomena to good use in a lighthearted story that teaches Hanukkah traditions — from kazatzkas to gelt — along with a wise, timeless moral.

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