Yes, Virginia, There Are Great Books About Winter Holidays

Dec 6, 2010

Winter abounds with holiday traditions, and unless your family is an equal-opportunity celebrator, you may be as stumped as I am when asked simple questions like “what does Hanukkah celebrate?” Or “What’s on the sixth night of Kwanzaa?” or “Why are there Christmas trees?” I remember one Christmas morning (we are  nominal Protestants, and that’s exactly how I grew up) when my sister asked, ripping into her stocking, “Who is that Jesus dude, anyway?”

So my own kids don’t grow up as ignorant as we did, I asked Dornel Cerro, head librarian at Sequoyah School, for her suggestions for books ABOUT the holidays—something to introduce kids to the roots of traditions celebrated by their own or others’ families.  She was really excited to share the following terrific series.

“Recently, I discovered a wonderful National Geographic series called Holidays Around the World. While geared to a K-3 crowd, the information and writing level is also appropriate for older children. Each of the 14 volumes introduces readers to a holiday’s history and how it is celebrated. The series covers such American holidays as Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Kwanza, as well as holidays celebrated around the world, including Diwali, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, and Christmas. Each slender volume includes recipes, maps, crafts, reading lists, and timelines. With lots of color photos and inclusive and highly readable text, this series can be used with independent readers and small group sharing. An excellent choice for the library, classroom, or home.”

For winter holidays, check out the following titles:

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Christmas: with Carols, Presents, and Peace

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Hanukkah:  with Light, Latkas, and Dreidels

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa:  with Candles, Community and the Fruits of the Harvest

Just around the corner:

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: with Fireworks, Dragons and Lanterns

And we missed this one, but it’s usually celebrated before Thanksgiving and is a delight, really kicking off the end-of-year in style:

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali: with Sweets, Lights and Fireworks

Individual copies are $6.95 for paper or $15.95 hardcover, in stock at Vroman’s and San Marino Toy and Book and by special order at La Canada Book and Toy and Once Upon a Time. Hometown Pasadena wants to give a shoutout to our local bookstores—and remember that if you special order a book, there’s no shipping and handling.  Most  of our local stores offer free gift wrapping, and their advice (especially if you don’t have a favorite school librarian who’s willing to share his or her picks): priceless!

Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.449.5320,

Once Upon a Time Bookstore, 2207 Honolulu, Montrose,  818.248.9668,

San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe, 2424 Huntington Dr., San Marino, 626.309.0222,

La Canada Book & Toy, 63A Foothill Blvd., La Canada, 818.790.1250



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