The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing stories from different cultures and traditions around the world? Children’s books are a fantastic way to introduce young readers to the customs, beliefs, and celebrations of people from diverse backgrounds. In this blog post, I’ve compiled a list of 25 Holidays Around the World picture books. From Hanukkah to Diwali, Christmas to Kwanzaa, and everything in between, these books offer a fun and educational way to learn about the rich diversity of our world. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or just someone who loves children’s literature, we hope you’ll find plenty of inspiration in this list. So, grab a cup of cocoa, cozy up with your little ones, and let’s explore the world’s holiday traditions through the magic of storytelling!
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25 Holidays Around the World Picture Books
1. Winter Candle by: Jeron Ashford
In this fictional story, the many diverse families within an apartment complex take turns sharing one stumpy candle to help them celebrate their own individual holidays. A great book to allow students to see how many different beliefs can exist all around them.
2. A World of Cookies for Santa by: M. E. Furman
Tag along with Santa as he taste-tests cookies from around the world. He eats puto seko cookies in the Philippines, a honey-spice cookie in Russia, and many other types of cookies as he travels on Christmas Eve night.
3. Joy to the World by: Kate DePalma
Learn about Christmas traditions from 13 different countries including Ethiopia, Colombia, Egypt, Lebanon, Canada, and more in this book that depicts Christmas around the globe.
4. Where Would Santa Go? by: Julia Inserro
Santa takes readers around the world to Antarctica, Iceland, Oman, Nepal, Tanzania, and more exciting places as he delivers gifts all around the world.
5. Christmas is Coming: Traditions From Around the Globe by: Monika Utnik
With so many Christmas traditions out there, it’s easy to wonder where they all came from. This book tells why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, when glass ornaments were created, and more about other interesting Christmas traditions.
6. Lailah’s Lunchbox by: Reem Faruqi
Lailah is trying to adjust to a new school in a new country with different beliefs than her own. When Ramadan rolls around she is excited to participate but worries about what her classmates will think. Lailah finds that there are others around who respect her beliefs.
7. Zahra’s Blessing: A Ramadan Story by: Shirin Shamsi
Zahra wants one thing for Ramadan – a sister. Zahra ends up getting her Ramadan wish come true in an unexpected way when she befriends a displaced refugee child when working at a shelter with her mom.
8. Binny’s Diwali by: Thrity Umrigar
Binny tells her class about her favorite holiday – Diwali. As Binny tells about the fireworks, yummy pedas and jalebis, and clay lamps, her classmates squeal in delight at all of the new things that Binny is sharing with them.
9. The Light Within You by: Namita Moolani Mehra
Diya is excited to return to India to spend Diwali with her grandmother. Once she’s there, she has a wonderful time celebrating but when it’s time to come home she’s not sure she’s ready. How can Diya carry the magic of Diwali home with her?
10. Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by: Angela Shelf Medearis
In this celebration of Kwanzaa, seven brothers who fight constantly are willed by their deceased father to create gold out of seven spools of thread. Will the boys be able to pull it together to honor their father?
11. Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by: Donna L. Washington
When Li’l Rabbit’s Granna is sick, he’s disappointed that Kwanzaa won’t be celebrated the way that it usually is. Li’l Rabbit soon realizes that he can find a treat to bring Granna to help her celebrate. He begins hunting but can he find something for her?
12. Chanukah Lights Everywhere by: Michael J. Rosen
With so many lights glowing all around them – the moon, headlights, streetlights, and more, a brother and sister learn how to Chanukah anyway.
13. Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story by: Fran Manushkin
The Menashes family love latkes and applesauce during Hanukkah but when a blizzard shows up, their hopes of having potatoes and apples to make this treat are dashed. Thankfully some surprise visitors save the day.
14. Lucia Morning in Sweden by: Ewa Rydaker
Follow three children as they celebrate St. Lucia Day by singing songs, learning about traditional treats, and the special costumes that people wear during this holiday that precedes Christmas.
15. TomTen Saves Christmas by: Linda Liebrand
Farm TomTen wants nothing to do with Christmas while his cousin Yule TomTen lives for it. When Yule TomTen needs help delivering presents he goes to his cousin asking for help. Will Farm TomTen help him?
16. Too Many Tamales by: Gary Soto
Maria is excited to celebrate Christmas with her family. But when she tries on her Mama’s ring and loses it while making tamales, she and her cousins must work together to try to save Christmas.
17. The Legend of the Poinsettia by: Tomie dePaola
On the night of Christmas Eve, the story follows a little Mexican girl, Lucida, who only has a handful of weeds to give to the Christ Child as an offering. Despite being ashamed of her gift, the weeds turn into poinsettias because the gift was given from the heart.
19. Tree of Cranes by: Allen Say
As a young Japanese boy recovers from sickness during his first sickness, his mother folds paper cranes and shares a little of what her childhood was like in America.
20. The Christmas Book Flood by: Emily Kilgore
A young girl searches for the perfect book to give her loved ones in celebration of Iceland’s Book Flood. Readers will learn all about this magical day and all that it entails.
21. The Legend of Old Befana by: Tomie dePaola
Cranky Old Befana spends all of her time sweeping. But when she sees the Star of Bethlehem and meets the three Wisemen who are following it, something inside of her changes.
22. Katie’s London Christmas by: James Mayhew
Katie and her brother wake up on Christmas Eve and are soon accompanying Father Christmas as he flies above the streets of London delivering gifts.
23. The Shortest Day by: Susan Cooper
Early people would celebrate the shortest day of the year by being hopeful that the light would return. As they waited they played music, lit candles, and built fires. Right in time with other holidays, this book also depicts these holidays being celebrated.
24. The Night Before Christmas by: Clement Moore
A rhyming tale that many know, this story features illustrations that teach children all about Santa and the journey he takes to deliver gifts to children who are snuggled up in their beds.
25. The Legend of St. Nicholas by: Dandi Daley Mackall
An origin story for St. Nicolas or Santa, this story explains where he came from as well as the importance of giving to others.
I hope you and your students enjoy learning more about the different traditions that happen across the globe using these Holidays Around the World picture books. Have a favorite book that isn’t on the list? Share it below!