So many families enjoy reading Christmas books and listening to holiday music together. It’s a wonderful way to mark the season and create those special memories! Here is a batch of fabulous new Christmas books and music for families to enjoy together. They are guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
New Christmas Books & Music for Kids
A new favorite at our house is the adorable When the Clock Strikes on Christmas Eve. Author Ferland wrote an equally adorable book When the Clock Strikes on Halloween (see my full review). As with her previous book, this new Christmas picture book also reinforces telling time skills, with a clock on every page spread. As the clock strikes each hour, we see families getting ready for the holidays with special traditions, such as ice skating, sitting by the fire, and decorating the tree. My son loves seeing how other families celebrate Christmas, plus he of course laughs at the mild potty humor (a farting elf!) I love the sweet illustrations and the rhyming text. This makes a great book to read by firelight just before bed on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Is Awesome! is a fun romp through all the reasons that Christmas really is awesome! There are twinkling lights, ugly sweaters, and, of course, being nice! I love the action-packed illustrations, which kids will be poring over to see every last hilarious detail. My favorite character is a grumpy little lump of coal. Even he gets a present, although he was all set to ring bells on the “silent nights” page! Dog lovers like my daughter will adore the “mistletoe” page, which has a dog giving a very big doggy lick to a cat. And of course, I have to mention that Santa’s elves are diverse, one of those little details that makes a difference! A really fun new Christmas book that everyone will enjoy.
I confess it is rather misleading to include Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays: Songs and Stories That Celebrate Global Light in a Christmas list, because it encompasses so much more than just Christmas! Of course, there are quite a few Christmas songs here, but there is also music to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year! So many winter holidays from different religions celebrate light, so this point of unity can be a wonderful avenue to teach children about other beliefs. Tracks on Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays often begin with a brief explanation of the featured holiday and how it is celebrated. We love to put it on in the car when the kids are focused and ready to listen, and it would also be wonderful to use in a classroom. This album is a wonderful way to teach children about the many special days that are celebrated around the world (and in your own neighborhood!)
Teach your students all about the upcoming Lunar New Year with these wonderful Chinese New Year books for kids! They include picture books as well as easy readers and a chapter book. Some are straightforward informational books, while others are fairy tales that bring to life some of the aspects of the Chinese New Year, like the animals of the zodiac. Some focus on the difficulty of being away from family during this special holiday, or the challenges of finding your identity as a Chinese American.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
18 Chinese New Year Books for Children
Bringing In the New Year is a wonderful board book that introduces the youngest readers to Chinese New Year. In colorful illustrations, it demonstrates how a family prepares for the New Year – by, for example, sweeping out the old year and hanging up spring-happiness poems. Little ones will especially enjoy the depictions of the celebration with lion dancers, firecrackers, and a dragon parade!
A cute book to teach older slightly children about the holiday is Chelsea’s Chinese New Year. Chelsea and her Chinese-American family are getting ready for the Chinese New Year, and she can’t wait! Most of all she wonders how she will stay up so late the night before! Can be read as a simple story, or add in the fun facts that are seen in bubbles throughout the book. A fun look at the celebration through a child’s eyes. Includes a glossary, list of zodiac animals, and additional resources.
PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year also follows a young Chinese-American girl celebrating Chinese New Year, but with a twist – she is learning all about it from her grandmother (PoPo), who is visiting from China! The first thing she learns is that there are a lot of rules to bring luck for the New Year, like don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day, and don’t use knives and scissors. Can she follow the rules to have the luckiest year ever?
This Next New Year is another great introduction to the customs of Chinese New Year. One thing that makes this book a little different is its emphasis on how people of different Asian cultures (and many who aren’t Asian at all!) celebrate this holiday, including the main character, a young boy who is half-Chinese and half-Korean.
In Li’s Chinese New Year, Li learns about Chinese New Year and the zodiac as he tries to decide which animal to be at his school’s Chinese New Year parade. Read to find out more about his teacher’s clever solution!
Home for Chinese New Year is a very sweet story about a father going to great lengths to return home for Chinese New Year. Jiajun’s father works in a city far from home, but takes a train, bus, three-wheeled motorcycle, and ferry before walking many miles to make it home to his family for Chinese New Year. Emphasizes the importance of being with family for the holiday, and the incredible efforts people make to celebrate this special holiday together, even if only for a few days.
A New Year’s Reunion is a very similar story of a little girl whose father builds houses far away and only comes home for a few days a year, at Chinese New Year. This book captures the mixed emotions the young girl feels – excitement as she waits for her father’s arrival but fear as he looks so different than she remembers, joy as they celebrate Chinese New Year together and finally sadness when he leaves again just a short time later.
A Gift also emphasizes the importance of family during Chinese New Year, even when it is impossible for everyone to be together. Amy’s mother is from China, and although Amy has uncles and an aunt there she’s never met, they always remember her during Chinese New Year. This year they send a special gift all the way from China, to show their love and bring her luck for the new year.
In New Year we meet a young boy who has just moved to Los Angeles from Hong Kong. At first he is excited to go to school, but he quickly becomes frustrated when he doesn’t understand anyone else, except for another Chinese student who is embarrassed to talk to him in Chinese. Yet with help from his teacher (also an immigrant, from Mexico) and his mother, he learns to be proud of where he is from. Through his art, he gains confidence and shares with the other students his special memories of Chinese New Year.
If the story of a little girl walking through the woods to give her grandmother a present sounds familiar, don’t worry! In Ruby’s Chinese New Year no one gets eaten by a wolf. In fact, all of the animals Ruby meets on her journey are friendly and want to help her take a special Chinese New Year card to Grandmother. A clever way to introduce children to the animals of the zodiac and learn about the true spirit of Chinese New Year along the way! Includes additional information about the zodiac and Chinese New Year crafts.
When Xingling learns from her PoPo (grandmother) about the Nian monster who used to terrorize the countryside every year on Lunar New Year, she never imagines it will come back to life! In The Nian Monster, this clever girl must figure out how to use the traditions of Chinese New Year to defeat the Nian Monster before it devours her and the whole city of Shanghai! Beautifully told story that not only showcases many of the features of Chinese New Year but also landmarks of Shanghai.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a fun retelling of the classic tale, this time set during Chinese New Year. Poor Goldy Luck just can’t catch a break. She tries to help her mother delivers a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors (a family of pandas), but instead ends up stumbling into their apartment when they aren’t home, spilling the cakes, eating a whole bowl of congee, breaking a rocking chair, and – to top it all off – falling asleep in the little one’s bed! Find out how Goldy turns her situation around and finally finds some good luck to start off the new year. Includes a recipe for turnip cakes.
Inspired by the Danish folktale the Talking Pot, The Runaway Wok tells the story of a poor family in Beijing, who wishes they had enough food for a proper Chinese New Year feast to share with their neighbors. When the son finds an old, battered wok at the market, he is shocked when it begins to sing to him! Sure it must be magic, he brings it home, and soon the wok goes to work to make this a Chinese New Year to remember for this generous family and the other poor families of Beijing.
In The Runaway Rice Cake it’s the food itself that’s on the run. The Chang family only has enough rice flour to make one rice cake for the whole family to share for Chinese New Year, but when it is ready, it jumps up and runs out the door! The resolution to the story emphasizes not simply cleverness but kindness and generosity. In the end, the family is rewarded for their selflessness when they (and their rice cake) find someone in even greater need than themselves.
If you have a Curious George fan in your house, you won’t want to miss Curious George Dragon Dance. This time George’s curiosity leads him to investigate a Chinese New Year parade and help a new friend by becoming a lion dancer! Includes a craft.
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year is different from the others because it follows a real life boy as he gets ready to be a lion dancer for Chinese New Year. It is chock full of beautiful photos of this family as they prepare for and celebrate in New York City’s Chinatown.
Max Celebrates Chinese New Year is part of an easy reader series. In this simple story, Max learns all about Chinese New Year as he helps his friend Lily and her family celebrate. A good introduction to basic traditions of the holiday.
The Year of the Dog is told from the point of view of a Chinese American girl, one of the only non-Caucasians in her town. According to her mother, the Year of the Dog is all about finding yourself, so the young girl struggles with her identity: Should she be called Pacy (her Chinese name) or Grace (her American name)? Is she American or Chinese or Taiwanese, or can she be all three? And can she find her own special talent before the Year of the Dog is over? Author Grace Lin started the Pacy Lin series because it was the kind of book she wished she could have read when she was growing up. Pacy/Grace faces problems any child will recognize (whether a crush likes her, getting a role in the school production of The Wizard of Oz), but these are sometimes complicated by her background (can Dorothy be Chinese?) The characters in the book are so well-written, and the story is both poignant and quite funny. And what pulls it all together is the idea of Chinese New Year, and how the concept of the Year of the Dog shapes Grace/Pacy’s quest for identity. While most children’s novels take place over a summer or over one school year, this one starts and finishes on Chinese New Year. Will one year be enough time to find herself? Highly recommended.
What are your favorite Chinese New Year books for kids?
Welcome to our fifth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 5. It is the beginning of the Year of the Pig, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:
Take your kids around the world this holiday season by hosting an around the world holiday party! It’s the perfect way for a school club or a homeschool group to celebrate this festive season.
Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids
Last year we started a World Explorers Club in our homeschool group. Each month we get together to learn about a different country with the kiddos. Earlier this month the World Explorers Club put on our second annual around the world holiday party. Everyone had a blast!
Each family picks a country to represent and shows how a popular winter holiday is celebrated there.
At our party this year we learned about Christmas in Sweden, Russia, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands; Hanukkah in Israel; Diwali in India; Chinese New Year in China; and Ayyám-i-Há. (The Bahá’í holiday of Ayyám-i-Há was a bit of an exception, since it isn’t based in any one country).
For their chosen country, each family prepares 1) a craft or activity, 2) a traditional treat. So, for example, last year our family did the Philippines, so the kids made a version of a traditional star decoration and sampled some homemade coconut milk cake. For India (Diwali) this year we brought ladoos to share and helped the kids make paper diyas. For Sweden, the kids crafted some adorable Christmas gnomes and decorated cookies, while for Israel (Hanukkah) they played dreidel to win chocolate coins.
We have done this two different ways, so see which works for your group! Both times, we set up “stations” around the room, generally one country per table, and the kids could spread out and take turns visiting each.
Last year, the food and the craft were at each station, whereas this year we moved all the treats to a food table and saved them until the end. They were only able to get the food after completing a quiz about the countries they had learned about!
The holiday quiz! They had to work together to answer the questions before they could have their treats 🙂
Whichever way you do it, make sure to have their first stop by a station where kids decorate treat bags. They’ll need one to collect all the crafts they will be making! This is a great activity for them to do as people are arriving and setting up.
Next year, we definitely have to add a Mexican style piñata!
December 13, 2018Book Reviews, ChristmasComments Off on New Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday
The holidays are the perfect time to snuggle up together and share some cozy moments over a good book. Well, I have not one but five wonderful new Christmas picture books to share with you, all of them guaranteed to brighten your holiday! So take a break from the hustle and bustle, grab your kids and some mugs of cocoa, and curl up with these new holiday favorites.
Disclosure: I was sent complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
New Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday
My kids love ninjas! So why I was very excited to receive North Pole Ninjas: MISSION: Christmas! to review. Who would have thought there would be ninjas at the North Pole? But they are so useful to do all those secret jobs that need to be done to spread kindness everywhere! The pictures are adorable, and I love the rhyming text, but my FAVORITE part is that it comes with 50 top secret missions of kindness that kids can do, like donating food to the local food bank, or drawing a holiday picture for relatives. What a great way to have kids focus on the spirit of the season!
Another book that really helps kids focus on what’s important is My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing (Growing Hearts). This is a beautifully done book with plenty of cleverly done flaps for little hands to open. It helps children realize that gifts don’t have to be wrapped under the tree, they can be hugs and kisses, or helping someone, or letting your sister decide which jam to try. I should mention that this book is not specifically for Christmas, but great for any time of year.
All Aboard! The Christmas Train is soooo fun for little readers! It opens up into a train, plus each car opens up to see the passengers inside! My kids love laying this book out on the floor to read it. As their mom, I love that it incorporates so many fun little learning activities, like counting the number of skiers, or looking for Santa’s missing boot! So colorful and fun!
Decked Out for Christmas! is a really cute board book to help younger kids get excited about Christmas time. A group of mice pull out all the decorations (included a cheese star!) fit for a wonderful Christmas tree, but soon it becomes obvious they aren’t decorating a tree! Great twist and a special appearance by a present-giving mouse at the end.
I love finding bilingual books for all occasions, so I was happy to review Doggy Claus / Perro Noel (English and Spanish Edition). It is a sweet story of a shelter dog who wants to bring some holiday cheer to the other animals. In the end he discovers that the best presents aren’t toys but rather friendship. Really cute book with a great message!
December 7, 2018music, recipes, WinterComments Off on 20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy
As we settle into colder weather, we all could use a little something to warm us up. Here are 20+ kid-friendly winter drinks to keep the whole family feeling cozy and snug this winter! And don’t miss our review of a fabulous new children’s album that will help everyone beat cabin fever all winter long!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Winterland for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy
Enjoy these kid-friendly winter drinks, including egg nog, hot chocolate, apple cider, tea, and more!
What are your favorite kid-friendly winter drinks?
New Children’s Album for Winter Fun
Just in time for the cold weather is a new album of 16 original songs from GRAMMY® Award-winning The Okee Dokee Brothers. Winterland is an upbeat, toe tapping album that celebrates everything that is glorious about winter, from playing out in the snow to getting to know a Yeti. My favorite is “Keep Me Warm,” (see the video on their YouTube channel), while my kids keep requesting “The Abominable Yeti.” (I love the rhymes on that one!)
This fun loving pair of childhood friends will catch children up in the excitement of exploring and enjoying the outdoors in winter. In a time where children often experience the world via screens, it’s refreshing to have music that takes us back to the wonders of nature and appreciating the changing seasons.
One of the undeniable heroes of American history is Harriet Tubman, that daring woman who not only escaped slavery herself but went on to help more than 300 others escape to freedom as well. Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate this remarkable heroine and inspire students with her story. I’ve gathered here some wonderful learning resources, including a new picture book that is a wonderful introduction to her story for young readers.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of I Am Harriet Tubman for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Harriet Tubman: Learning Resources for Kids
Books for Kids
Often adults hesitate about how to approach difficult topics in history with their kids. How to begin to tell them about the horrors of slavery or the harrowing journeys of those that sought to escape it? That’s why I’m happy to introduce a new picture book that does a great job of introducing children to the subject of slavery and the Underground Railroad through the story of Harriet Tubman.
I am Harriet Tubman is part of the popular children’s biography series Ordinary People Change the World. This beautiful series introduces young readers to inspiring people from the past, such as Gandhi and Rosa Parks. I love that there is always an emphasis on the people and events that inspired them to overcome difficulties in their lives.
I am Harriet Tubman doesn’t sugar coat the past, but it does present it in terms that children can understand and, through sharing one personal story, helps them imagine what it might have been like to have been a child during those times. In this way it helps kids really understand just how remarkable Tubman was and the enormity of what she achieved. As always, I love the timeline and photos included at the back of the book.
For older kids I really recommend The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman. This is part of a series of historical graphic novels for kids that my eight year old adores. As with all the books in the series, it presents the subject with incredible historical accuracy and respect and is very engaging for even reluctant readers.
Crafts & Activities
Make this triarama from Crayola to celebrate Tubman’s legacy.
Visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Church Creek, Maryland, or drive along the 125+ miles of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in a self-guided driving tour (includes 36 historical sites related to the Underground Railway). This can also be done virtually! Read one mom’s experience on taking this emotional journey with her family.
The Women in World History Activity Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs includes a section on Tubman, with a one page reading passage and reading comprehension questions. Designed for ages 8 – 12.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s the perfect time to talk to children about love and how it unites us as one human family. I wanted to emphasize that no matter how different we may seem, we all experience love, so I created this free printable Valentine’s Day mini book that teaches how to say “love” in five different languages. It’s a fun way to celebrate the holiday and to teach children an important life lesson. Scroll down to download your copy!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Love for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Valentine’s Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love
When teaching children about the world, it’s important to emphasize that despite our differences, we have so much in common. Love is one of the most universal qualities that we share, and this free Valentine’s Day mini book shows children how to say “love” in five different languages: Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese.
There is also a matching page (with answer key), so it is easy to use as a fun classroom activity.
And thank you to EduClips for the lovely bird clip art I used in the Valentine’s Day Mini Book!
Another great way to teach kids about love as a universal language is the gorgeous new children’s book Love from Matt de la Peña, author of the acclaimed children’s book Last Stop on Market Street (read my full review). This lovely new work focuses on how we all experience love in its myriad forms – from a beautiful sunset to laughter or the sound of a parent’s voice. I love the emphasis on recognizing love in the simple, ordinary moments, like playing in sprinkler during the summer or lying in the grass and looking up at the trees.
But love is more than just sunshine and rainbows – it’s also the hug when you’re scared or someone waking at dawn to go to work. This book doesn’t shy away from childhood fears and tragedies, but it handles them gently and reminds children that through it all, they are always surrounded by love, love, love.
And of course I adore the diverse images in the books – in particular a girl in sneakers and a hijab enjoying the beauty of a spring day. The illustrations go a long way towards helping children understand that no matter how different we may look, we all experience love and the simple joys of life.
I highly recommend this book as a wonderful way to celebrate the love that surrounds us and remind children of the beauty in the ordinary.
December 21, 2017Education, New Year'sComments Off on New Year’s Math Puzzles for Winter Break Fun
Looking for a fun way to keep up math skills over winter break? Here are New Year’s math puzzles that have a secret message that will be revealed as they do the math! There are two puzzles, both of which focus on distinguishing between even and odd numbers. The one for younger learners uses smaller numbers and some simple addition and subtraction, while the other introduces basic multiplication and division.
Keep learning fun over winter break with these New Year’s math puzzles for elementary students! For both puzzles, students must decide if the number in each space is even or odd. The “easy” puzzle includes basic addition and subtraction, while the “difficult” puzzles uses beginning multiplication and division.
Choose either the “easy” (addition and subtraction) or “difficult” (multiplication and division) puzzle below. Right click on the image to save and print.
Pick two colors (we liked yellow and blue). One color will be for even numbers and the other for odd numbers.
For each space, decide if the number shown is even or odd, and color accordingly. As you go, you will reveal a secret message!
Looking for a fun, easy decoration you can make with your child this holiday season? Here is a festive DIY ornament inspired by the Philippines that is fun to do and also reinforces those fine motor skills!
When it comes to “around the world” celebrations, I normally have a very hard choosing which country to research and present. This year, however, when it came time for our World Explorers Club holiday party, I knew exactly which country I wanted to showcase: the Philippines are known for their incredible holiday spirit and amazing Christmas celebrations, which start as early as September! That’s right, while the rest of us are thinking about back to school shopping, Filipinos are already busy decorating for Christmas!
One of the most iconic Philippine decorations is the parol, the gorgeous star lanterns originally used to light the way to early morning mass in the 9 days leading up to Christmas. (For those that speak Spanish, notice the similarity to the word farol, or lantern! This dates back to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines).
Welcome to our fifth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016) plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!
Looking for some ideas for easy indoor winter fun? As much as we love to get outside, where we live in Northern California it is often cold and rainy this time of year, so we are stuck inside much of the time. So instead I came up this simple snowman craft – and the boys invented a fun indoor winter game! Plus you don’t want to miss our review and giveaway of a wonderful new winter books that is sure to become a family favorite! GIVEAWAY EXTENDED UNTIL MIDNIGHT on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun
This snowman craft is great for a range of ages – little ones will love just playing with the cotton balls, while older children can do more elaborate creations. And the materials are ones you probably already have on hand!
That’s it! Just glue the cotton balls together and add decorations to make your snowman! This can also be an engineering challenge for kids as they figure out the best way to put the cotton balls together to make the creation they want – or perhaps to make it stand up! We found that it was easiest to put the toothpick arms in between the cotton balls rather than trying to stick them into the cotton balls.
Buttons are great for the snowman’s buttons of course, but all the eyes or even hats!
When you’ve finished your snowmen, you can also do what my kids did – have an impromptu “snowball” fight with the leftover cotton balls! (I wasn’t able to get a good picture of that, too many snowballs flying everywhere!)
They’re back! The adorable owl siblings we came to love in Hoot and Peep (read my full review) are back in a new book that celebrates the wonder of a child’s first winter! A Song for Snow is another gorgeous book from famed author Lita Judge. Little sister Peep can’t wait for her first snow, but her big brother Hoot can’t answer all her many questions – he was young last winter and can’t quite remember all about it, especially what its “song” would be like! Children will identify with Peep’s excited impatience, as she flies around the beautiful Paris landscape waiting for snow. But they soon learn, along with Hoot, the wisdom of waiting. Wonderful book to celebrate winter with children. It also serves as a gentle reminder of the importance of mindfulness and learning to appreciate the pace of the natural world.
And now you can win your own copy! Just comment below with your child’s favorite winter activity! (Or if your child is young, let us know what you are looking forward to doing with your child this winter).
Winner will be selected by random drawing. US shipping only. Giveaway EXTENDED! Ends Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at midnight PT.