Holiday Stories and Tales for the New Year

10 books that explore Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

A new year means a new beginning. Perhaps you’ll make a pledge to read more, be more helpful, be a better friend or eat more healthy foods. The new year is full of hope, promises and happiness. This time of year makes me happy because it’s filled with holidays spent with family and friends. Please enjoy some of my favorite books about holidays, the start of a new year, gratitude and health.

Board Books

“Hanukkah Baby”
by Ekaterina Trukhan

Baby is ready to spin the dreidel, eat latkes and light the Hanukkah candles. Baby wants to celebrate Hanukkah with the whole family. This book is made of special material that’s unrippable and easy for little hands to hold—perfect for the littlest friends ready to celebrate Hanukkah.

Silent Night“Silent Night”
by Grace Lin

This simple, beautifully illustrated board book is based on the beloved Christmas carol. As a Caldecott honoree, Grace Lin offers a creative interpretation perfect for the babies and toddlers in your life. Enjoy colorful illustrations in this book that can be read, or sung, with the family at Christmas.

My First Kwanzaa“My First Kwanzaa”
by Karen Katz

Do you have little ones in your life who are celebrating Kwanzaa or who want to learn about it? With colorful illustrations and simple text, this book is great for the littlest readers. Celebrate this holiday that traces its roots to Africa.

Picture Books

Little Red Ruthie“Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale”
by Gloria Koster and Sue Eastland

Ruthie is on her way to her grandmother, bringing applesauce and sour cream for the latkes. While traipsing through the forest, she encounters a wolf. Hopefully Ruthie can convince the wolf that latkes are better to eat than eating her. Enjoy this Hanukkah-inspired fairy tale with your family.

Mings Christmas Wishes“Ming’s Christmas Wishes”
by Susan L. Gong and Masahiro Tateishi

Ming wishes to sing in the Christmas choir but finds she’s feeling torn between two worlds: her Chinese family at home and her American school. Full of family traditions and Christmas spirit, this book makes an inspiring story to share with your family.

Seven Candles For Kwanzaa“Seven Candles for Kwanzaa”
by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Learn about the origins of Kwanzaa, the traditions and practices. Why do we light candles for seven days? What is the importance of each day? This book will be helpful for families who celebrate Kwanzaa or those who want to learn more about this holiday.

Mitzvah Pizza“Mitzvah Pizza”
by Sarah Lynn Scheerger and Deborah Melmon

When you have enough but you know others who don’t, what would you do? This book recounts the story of when a day out for pizza turns into helping those in your community. The inspiration for this story comes from a pizza place that used to be in Philadelphia.

Freedom Soup“Freedom Soup”
by Tami Charles and Jacqueline Alcántara

This New Year’s Day book is a celebration of Haitian independence. Join a family in their kitchen as
they make their special freedom soup. Everyone gets to help, and everyone gets to share in the celebration. Colorful illustrations make this story fun for all members of your family to enjoy.

Shante Keys“Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas”
by Gail Piernas-Davenport and Marion Eldridge

New Year’s Day is Shanté Keys’ favorite holiday to celebrate. However, Grandma forgot the black-eyed peas. Will New Year’s Day be ruined? Find out and get ready to celebrate New Year’s Day with Shanté Keys and her family.

I Am Peace“I Am Peace”
by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds

Start the new year off with great mental health for you and your family. This book is a fun, easy way to practice mindfulness, life balance and healthy choices. With mindful meditations and yoga poses, your family can start off the new year on the right foot.

Mary Westbrook is a children’s librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. 

This piece first appeared in the December 2021 issue of MetroKids.

Categories: Book Reviews