Here’s a collection of books to help you create holiday traditions — or to just keep your antsy kids busy during this hectic time of year!
‘Winter Babies’ by Kathryn Galbraith
An engaging board book with adorable babies on the go during the winter season. Rhyming text and colorful art reveal a diverse group of babies playing in the park on a bright winter day.
‘Itsy Bitsy Dreidel’
by Jeffrey Burton
A small yellow dreidel helps his large, colorful family prepare for Hanukkah. This fun twist on the popular nursery rhyme touches on some fundamental aspects of the holiday.
‘Light the Menorah! A Hanukkah Handbook’ by Jacqueline Jules
Discover everything you and your little ones need to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights. You can recite the candle blessings in both Hebrew and English, read original poems and stories, all while learning the history and rituals of Hanukkah. Great choice for families creating new Hanukkah traditions.
‘I Got the Christmas Spirit’ by Connie Schofield-Morrison
This husband and wife collaboration brings us the story of a young girl who cannot contain her Christmas spirit. On a holiday shopping trip with her mother, she enjoys ice skating, carolers and a visit to Santa Claus, where she asks for peace and love for all.
‘Kwanzaa’ by Rachel Grack
Kwanzaa is here! So opens this book by Rachel Grack, a well-written overview of the holiday which began in the United States in 1966. Young readers will learn of the traditions, such as lighting the kinara, and the principles associated with each of the kinara’s seven candles. Many photos are sprinkled throughout with smiling faces, fun festivals and bright colors. Perfect for beginning readers, the layout is attractive with few sentences of text on each page and a large, clear font. Extras include a pronunciation guide and simple craft instructions for making a Kwanzaa flag.
‘All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah’ by Emily Jenkins
Sydney Taylor’s cherished characters from her All-of-a-Kind Family series of middle grade books are back in a beautiful new picture book from two powerhouses in children’s literature — author Emily Jenkins and illustrator Paul Zelinsky. First published in 1951, the books featured a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of New York City at the turn of the 20th Century. In this complimentary tale, Gertie, the youngest of five sisters, is the focus of the festive story. Jenkins deftly creates a warm family celebration brought to vivid life with Zelinsky’s exuberant and intimate illustrations. Fingers crossed that we’ll see more from this delightful family in the future!
‘The Christmasaurus’ by Tom Fletcher
Already a bestseller in England, with a stage show and a forthcoming movie, “Christmasaurus” is destined to be a holiday classic. All 10-year-old dinosaur enthusiast William Trundle wants for Christmas is a real live dinosaur. Meanwhile, Santa and his elves discover a frozen dinosaur egg which Santa sits on until it hatches. Santa mistakenly delivers the real dinosaur to William and William and the dinosaur embark on a wild adventure.
‘Clementine for Christmas’ by Daphne Benedis-Grab
Josie and her dog Clementine volunteer at the local hospital. Josie loves the town’s annual big Christmas festival. Meanwhile, Oscar’s parents are fighting and Oscar is getting into trouble. His punishment is to volunteer at the local hospital. Gabby’s life seems perfect, but she has a secret that could destroy everything. Then, Clementine disappears, the festival might be cancelled, Oscar’s parents separate and Gabby’s secret is discovered. Can Josie, Oscar and Gabby work together to find a way to save the holiday?
‘Holly Jolly Summer’ by Tiffany Stewart
Darby, the 15-year-old daughter of small-town Christmas, Kentucky’s mayor, finds herself working at Holly Jolly Land, the local amusement park that has seen its better days. She realizes that her recent ex-boyfriend is now her supervisor, which pulls her in two directions as her current crush has seemingly disappeared. Allusions to Dickens and other holiday favorites abound in this light, contemporary debut novel with a seasonal twist.
‘Carols and Chaos’ by Cindy Anstey
At Shackleford Park, a country estate in England, not all is as it seems as the 1817 holidays approach. Kate Darby, a lady’s maid, is busily helping to prepare the manse for the season, but is also nursing her ailing mother back to health. Enter valet Matt Harlow, who has his own hands full with the visiting Steeple brothers, gentry who demand all of his time. Kate and Matt meet cute under the mistletoe, but their affections have to (temporarily?) take a back seat to the many intrigues and potential scandals surrounding them in this sweet historical novel.
Jamie L. Watson is collection development manager with Baltimore County Public Library.