When it comes to holiday books for kids European and white American versions of the holiday are easy to find. Here are a few new and more diverse offerings to put you in the holiday spirit.
Nicholas the Maker by Brian and Josie Parker. Here’s a little gem of a book from the micro-press Believe in Wonder Publishing. It’s the story of Nicholas, the son of Bishop Nicholas of Myra. He’s a half-elf in search of his mother’s people. It’s a magical quest tale leading to the origins of our modern myth of Santa Claus. It is beautifully illustrated throughout with pictures that make it clear that Nicholas is a brown boy. Historically fitting as the real person Bishop Nicholas of Myra, who became St. Nicholas, is from the southern coast of modern day Turkey.
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper illustrated by Kenard Pak.
Here is a celebration of snow which reminds me a bit of another favorite, Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes. Lina goes on a wintery walk to her grandma’s to make their special holiday treat, warak enab. Along the way she reflects on all the sounds that snow makes. It’s a sweet ode to holiday baking and it celebrates so much more than the Arab-American culture in which it is rooted.
Simon & the Bear by Eric Kimmel illustrated by Matthew Trueman. Like Cathy Camper, Eric Kimmel is a fellow Portlander. He’s written many Hanukkah stories. This one is his most fanciful yet. It features an immigrant struggling to survive, a highly unlikely rescue, and an even more unlikely Hanukkah guest. Throughout it highlights eight everyday miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love.
And finally if you are a fan of the Netflix holdiay extravaganza Jingle Jangle, there is a novelized version of it. Jingle Jangle by Lyn Sison Albert
Not holiday related but I wanted to make quick mention of these books which are coming out Jan 21st.
Sea in Winter by Christine Day
I found this story particularly resonant because all of my children are dancers and they have struggled at times, like Maisie in Christine Day’s book, with injuries that cause them to call their whole sense of self into question. Maisie lives in Seattle and is Makah/Piscataway. This book runs deep with questions of identity and history set against the backdrop of the Makah whale hunts and ancient archaeological sites. A great read for a thoughtful and tenderhearted child.
Amari & the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston is the first in a trilogy of books about a black girl with a magical destiny. This has already been made into a movie, so it stands poised to take its place in the realm of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
Rosanne Parry is the author of 7 MG novels including best sellers A Wolf Called Wander, and A Whale of the Wild. Her first picture book Big Truck Day will go on sale in September of 2022. She sells books at Annie Blooms Bookstore in Multnomah Village and writes books in her treehouse in Portland, Oregon.
From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.
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