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Books to Teach Children Different Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

By Lee Scott, Chairperson of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board  

With the holiday season upon us, parents are eager to share their most treasured family festivities with their children. This time of year allows parents to celebrate traditions that run deep in their families while making room to create new ones.

These traditions both create lasting memories for little ones and are a great opportunity to teach children about how families across different cultures and backgrounds celebrate. TIME Magazine cites 11 holidays celebrated throughout the month of December, and there are countless others that matter a great deal to families and children around the world.


One of the best ways to teach this to children is through reading. Lee Scott, chairperson of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, shares some books parents can read to their young children as they learn how different people and cultures celebrate the holidays.


As Bear hibernates for the winter, his forest friends are determined to keep him awake for Christmas. In an effort to do so, he and his friends find a Christmas tree, bake cakes, hang up stockings, and sing Christmas songs. This cute story includes classic traditions but also teaches how giving is the best part of the holiday.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

As the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, this award-winning book focuses on how coming together as a community to help each other is a tale as old as time. Many holiday traditions were inspired by ancient solstice celebrations, and it is a great way to show children where some of their favorite holiday rituals came from. This beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life that ties us to generations that come before us.

From Christmas and Thanksgiving to Diwali and Yule, this book gives children the chance to be a part of festivities across the globe. Witness a camel marathon in a celebration of the Sahara Desert and enjoy some delicious dumplings to celebrate Chinese New Year. Discover why skeletons dance at the Day of the Dead in Mexico and get messy at Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors. The book provides great detail on each celebration to encourage an understanding of other cultures and faith practices.

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl

As Max and Rachel head to light the menorah, they find the Hanukkah box is missing, as are their menorah, candles and dreidels. Their neighbors offer creative solutions for stand-in items to celebrate each night. This heartwarming book is a fresh twist on a Hanukkah celebration and shows how kids can problem solve to share their favorite traditions. 

Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford

Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year, but a snowstorm may keep her brother from getting home in time for the festivities. Rooted in family tradition, this book is a nice way to teach children all about the practices that make Kwanzaa a special winter holiday.  

Lunar New Year by Hannah Eliot

With pages filled with beautiful artwork, this festive book teaches readers that Lunar New Year invites us to spend time with family and friends, light lanterns, dance with dragons, set off fireworks and live the new year in harmony and happiness.

No matter which festivities families celebrate, a common thread runs through the holiday season: our traditions encourage us to cherish our loved ones and adopt a spirit of gratitude and generosity. For more information about celebrating the holidays and other parenting guidance and resources, visit   



Lee Scott is an education consultant with more than 25 years of early childhood education program development experience. She serves as the chairperson of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board and supported the development of The Goddard School’s summer, after-school, Life Lesson Library, and kindergarten programs.  


Lee has launched strategic partnerships on various family-oriented and educational projects with National Head Start Association, Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, National Geographic Society, The Discovery Channel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Amazon Kids. She is the author of The National Partnership for 21st Century Learning Early Learning Framework (P21-ELF) and is an expert collaborator on the Mattel Fisher-Price Play Lab.

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