We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, so on this Hanukkah week we alternated Hanukkah and Christmas book focusing a little on traditions in different countries.
I wouldn’t recommend the book Santa Claus Around the World to the kids who still believe in Santa who lives on the North Pole. It’s a non-fictional book that explains origins of modern Santa Claus and goes on to tell stories of other gift bringers including China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Italy, etc. I found it fascinating to learn that pretty much every culture has a gift-bringing figure in it. Smarty seemed uninterested in the book at first, but then insisted that she wants to read it again, so I think she needed to digest all the information first.
Our library has several older books from Circle the Year series, and I brought Christmas in Other Lands home again. I like the setup of the book where children from the same school introduce to their friends how Christmas is celebrated in their countries of origin. The book covers Mexico, Sweden, Greece, Philippines and Zimbabwe. Smarty said she would really like to see Las Posadas and have a coin in her Christmas cake.
Strictly speaking, How the Russian Snow Maiden Helped Santa Claus is not a Christmas celebration book, but it has a lot of references on how Christmas is celebrated in Russia, including the fact that Russian gift-bringers Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snow Maiden bring presents on New Year’s Eve. The story is lovely and uses a lot of transliterated Russian words. Snow Maiden helps Santa Claus by giving him an idea for a new toy – you can only guess which one.
Smarty awarded the honor of “the funnest book ever” to Christmas Wombat this week. This is the only book on this list that I would recommend to younger readers, since the other ones are all rather long. Another great work of Jackie French and Bruce Whatley who brought this adorable Australian creature into our living rooms.
Letter on the Wind by Sarah Marwil Lamstein is a Hanukkah book, but I felt compelled to add it here, since it also has a theme of distant lands and actually connects two distant lands together. The book is beautifully illustrated by Neil Waldman and tells a story of a villager from a poor village parched by drought who writes a letter to the Almighty asking for help. He sends a letter with the wind and… read the book to find out what happened!