With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share some of our favorite books! These are ones that are not only fun for kids to read but that also teach them about the true holiday spirit – giving rather than getting, and love rather than just presents. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
I received complimentary copy of The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase on Amazon, I receive a small commission. Thank you!
Children’s Books About the True Holiday Spirit
We just love Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson. It is an engaging, indirect way to teach kids about the Nativity. Kids learn about sharing and sacrificing for others, as Mortimer Mouse has to decide whether to give up his warm bed in a family’s Nativity scene to make room for the tiny Baby Jesus doll. This is a fun book to pair with making a gingerbread house, as this plays a major role in the story’s resolution.
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the Nativity story from the point of view of the animals in the barn. Through this gently told story, children will learn the importance of always making room for others.
Okay, I had to include another Karma Wilson book, since she is one of our favorites! Bear Stays Up for Christmas follows Bear and his friends as they get ready for Christmas. In the end, Bear learns that giving is the best present. As with all of the Bear books, a main theme is also the importance of friendship. Kids will love the appearance at the end of a very special red-suited visitor.
Another engaging story of the holiday spirit is The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstein. Like children everywhere, Brother and Sister Bear are excited about getting presents on Christmas, yet during the Christmas pageant they learn the importance of giving.
The Driedel That Wouldn’t Spin by Martha Seif Simpson is a lovely book set during Hanukkah, though its message is not specific to the holiday A shopkeeper during the busy Hanukkah season dreams of profit from selling an elaborate dreidel given to him by a peddler. Though the peddler warns that “the miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought” the shopkeeper immediately puts it in his shop window with a hefty price tag. Child after child demands it from his parent, yet it is always returned because it won’t spin. It is not until a humble, shy boy enters the shop with his father that the shopkeeper discovers the magic of a toy waiting for a deserving owner. This charming tale, illustrated with Old World style paintings, is a beautiful way to teach children about the triumph of humility over greed and the importance of appreciating the real spirit of the season. Includes information at the back of the book about the miracle of Hanukkah and how to play the dreidel game.
The Chanukkah Guest by Eric A. Kimmel is another favorite of ours. It is a silly story about an old woman whose hearing and sight are so poor that she mistakes a wandering bear for the rabbi and so invites him in to enjoy latkes. Children will laugh as she tries to remove the bear’s fur “coat” and exclaims over his remarkable appetite. She even sends him off with a special gift – a warm scarf. When she later discovers the truth about her Chanukah guest, she laughs at her foolishness and proclaims that even a bear deserves a happy Chanukah.
The charming heroine of The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser shows the true heart of Hanukkah when she is determined to invite her elderly neighbor to a special family dinner. Though Mrs. Greenberg is invited every year, she always refuses to come, saying she doesn’t want to be a bother. Yet this year young Rachel will not be deterred, as she comes up with an ingenious offer that the woman cannot refuse. A fun story that also teaches the importance of hospitality and thinking of others.
Don’t be put off by the funny title of The Trees of the Dancing Goatsby Patricia Polacco. This book is truly a gem. It is a wonderful story for older children about people coming together despite their differences. Young Trisha is caught up in the excitement of preparing for Hanukkah in the traditional Russian way, yet the holiday fun is dampened when her best friend’s family is struck by scarlet fever. Trisha’s family then work together to make sure their neighbors get a real Christmas. Based on her own family’s experiences as Eastern European immigrants living on a farm in Michigan, this book can be an especially good stepping stone for discussions about interfaith celebrations and the true spirit of both Christmas and Hanukkah.
I am so excited to be participating in another wonderful monthly event from All Things Kids. This month our theme is Christmas Activities and Crafts for Kids! Enjoy the wonderful posts below, and don’t miss out on our big giveaway!
Where Imagination Grows: Christmas Tree Suncatchers
US Shipping Only
1. That Dog! and I Can Do It books from Tiger Tales
2. Science BLAST from littleBLAST
3. Stackadoos from B Toys
4. The Pandas and Their Chopsticks from Wisdom Tales
5. Handprint Stone Craft Kit from Craft Project Ideas
6. ¡Sabor! Spanish Learning Songs CD from Whistlefritz
7. Kids yoga book (winner’s choice!) from Kids Yoga Stories
8. Celebrate Christmas Around the World! Printable Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs