Welcome Winter with Seasonal Reads

10 Stories About Sharing Holiday Traditions and Coming Together

With winter comes the holiday season. Whether you’re celebrating with family or friends, this is a great time to get together and share books! Winter also (hopefully) brings a bit of snow—a magical sight. The books on this list will get you into the holiday spirit. Find them at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Board Books

Last Marshmallow

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“The Last Marshmallow” by Grace Lin

Playing outside in the snow is fun, especially for friends Olivia and Mei. When they’re ready to warm up with hot chocolate, they know marshmallows are a must. However, how can the friends share equally when there are three marshmallows and only two of them? This brightly-illustrated board book, part of the Storytelling Math series, is a great introduction to math for our littlest friends! Turn the lesson into reality by enjoying hot chocolate and marshmallows on a cold winter day.

Hanukkah Baby

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“Hanukkah Baby” by Ekaterina Trukhan and Amy Pixton

Baby is ready to celebrate Hanukkah! In this colorfully-illustrated book, we see baby celebrating with family and friends. This book is part of a series of indestructible books, perfect for our youngest learners. A great introduction to Hanukkah and all its splendor!

8 Nights

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“The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 8 Nights of Chanukah” by Eric Carle

It’s Chanukah (another spelling for Hanukkah), and the very hungry caterpillar is excited to celebrate! Filled with Carle’s bright and fun illustrations, follow the caterpillar along as it lights the menorah, plays the dreidel game and more! This board book brings a familiar character to readers and blends it perfectly with the festivities of Chanukah.

Picture Books

Shortest Day

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“The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. In this lyrical ode to the shortest day, the reader will feel the joy that can be found in winter. With rhyming text and beautiful illustrations, this nonfiction picture book introduces young readers to the winter solstice. We see children and families preparing for winter and celebrating the snow. A great read-aloud for the whole family!

First Snow

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“First Snow” by Bomi Park

This gentle picture book finds a young girl enjoying the first snowfall of the season. We follow along as she rolls snowballs, makes snow angels and quietly enjoys the snow. The sparse text makes it perfect for younger children but also allows older children to add to the story. The illustrations are beautiful, with black and white and a hint of a red scarf. A perfect ode to the first snow.

Christmas Mitzvah

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“The Christmas Mitzvah” by Jeff Gottesfeld and Michelle Laurentia Agatha

A mitzvah is a good deed, done mostly around holidays. In this Hanukkah/Christmas crossover book, we get a glimpse of the true spirit of the holidays. Al and his son take a walk after lighting a candle on their menorah—which just happens to be Christmas Eve. As they walk around their neighborhood, they notice everyone working. They decide to help their neighbors so they can also celebrate their holiday! A perfect read for families celebrating either Christmas or Hanukkah.

Santa In City

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“Santa in the City” by Tiffany D. Jackson and Reggie Brown

It’s almost Christmas, and Deja is excited but also worried. She lives in a city— in an apartment building—and doesn’t have a chimney for Santa to climb down! Will Santa be able to find her? With help and encouragement from family, friends and neighbors, Deja realizes that the Christmas spirit is everyone in the city and Santa’s magic! A fun read-aloud, especially for city kids, which demonstrates the magic of the season.

Bears Stays Up

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“Bear Stays Up for Christmas” by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

It’s winter, so Bear is hibernating, of course! However, his friends want to make sure he doesn’t miss Christmas. They wake him up and help him get ready. Can Bear stay awake to enjoy the holiday with his friends? This colorfully-illustrated picture book is a great read-aloud for the whole family!

People Remember

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“The People Remember” by Ibi Zoboi and Loveis Wise

This beautifully-written nonfiction picture book connects the seven principles of Kwanzaa to the history of African descendants in America. It tells the story of families taken from their homes, forced onto boats and forced into slavery. It tells how many came together, despite different languages, to find joy and celebration. This is an important read, and not just for those celebrating Kwanzaa.

Rabbits Kwanzaa

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“Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa” by Donna L. Washington and Shane W. Evans

Li’l Rabbit was feeling frustrated! He loved Kwanzaa but he wasn’t allowed to light the candles and couldn’t remember all the names of the days. When Granna Rabbit isn’t feeling well, Li’l Rabbit is determined to make it the best Kwanzaa yet by finding her a special treat. A fun and heartfelt picture book about celebrating Kwanzaa and the meaning of the season.

Mary Westbrook

Children’s Librarian, Free Library of Philadelphia

Categories: Book Reviews