During the month of December many of my lessons focus on winter holidays around the world. These include books about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali as well as Christmas. Below are 30 of my favorite December read alouds.
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A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel
After destroying all of the gifts and decorations at home, Bad Kitty escapes from the car on Christmas Eve and finds a new friend, who helps her learn the true meaning of Christmas.
A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora
Text in English with some Spanish words. Presents an adaptation of the folk song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in which friends exchange gifts such as pinatas and a little girl receives a present from a secret friend whose identity is eventually revealed.
A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman
A World of Cookies for Santa takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. Head to the Philippines, where children leave out puto seko cookies and ginger tea for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie; then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you’ve returned home, the journey’s still not over–M. E. Furman provides recipes for children to bake some of Santa’s cookies for themselves.
Click, Clack Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin
As Farmer Brown prepares the house for Christmas, Duck tries to play Santa–but he gets stuck in the chimney, along with all the other animals who try to help.
Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray
The Gingerbread Man and his classmates spread holiday cheer by delivering gifts and thank yous to the people of their town.
Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
When Jim’s gingerbread pirate, Captain Cookie, comes alive, the tasty treat prepares to battle Santa Claus, who likes to eat cookies on Christmas Eve.
Great Santa Stakeout by Betsy Bird
Freddy Melcher is obsessed with Santa Claus: he has posters, clothes, underwear, action figures, everything but a photograph of the real Santa–and though it will take planning, trip wires, and staying awake late, this year he is determined to get the ultimate selfie.
Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel
Bubba Brayna makes the best latkes in the village, and on the first night of Hanukkah, the scent of her cooking wakes a hungry, adorable bear from his hibernation. He lumbers into town to investigate, and Bubba Brayna–who does not see or hear very well–mistakes him for her rabbi. She welcomes the bear inside to play the dreidel game, light the menorah, and enjoy a scrumptious meal.
How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace
A crafty elf shares all the ways children have tried and failed to catch him.
How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan
After waiting for days and days and days, it’s finally Christmas Eve. And that’s when you can try to catch Santa. . . .
If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t! by Elise Parsley
When Magnolia’s family prepares to meet Santa at the local mall, she befriends a mischievous pirate and tries to get him taken off Santa’s naughty list.
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
Taking a mouse to the movies can lead to letting him do other things, such as making a snowman, listening to Christmas carols, and decorating the Christmas tree.
Kevin’s Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard
Kevin’s family is celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa! Kevin helps his mom decorate the Kwanzaa table. They light candles with Grandma and Grandpa and learn a special word each day. They talk about working together and solving problems. On the sixth day, everyone eats and dances at a big feast!
Latke the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fisher
Rescued from an animal shelter on the first night of Hanukkah, Latke has trouble learning the house rules. Despite a series of mishaps, he is one Lucky Dog!
Little Red Ruthie : a Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster
Heading through the forest to her Bubbe Basha’s house to make latkes (potato pancakes) on the first night of Hanukkah, Little Red Ruthie encounters a hungry wolf. Includes a recipe for latkes.
My Penguin Osbert by Cody Elizabeth Gimmel
When a boy finally gets exactly what he wants from Santa, he learns that owning a real penguin may not have been a good idea after all.
Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
Olive is merrily preparing for Christmas when suddenly she realizes “Olive… the other Reindeer… I thought I was a dog. Hmmm, I must be a Reindeer!” So she quickly hops aboard the polar express and heads to the North Pole.
Prince of Fire : the Story of Diwali by Jatinder Nath Verma
Retells the Hindu tale of a heroic prince and his bride who are separated by the demon prince Ravana until the Monkey Army of Hanuman, god of the wind, helps them. Includes facts about Divaali, the festival celebrating Rama and Sita’s return to their kingdom.
Santa’s Stuck by Rhonda Gowler Greene
When the rotund fellow with a sweet tooth overdoes it on the snacks, he gets stuck inside a chimney. The reindeer on the roof try pulling him out, to no avail. A dog, a cat, and some kittens try pushing from below, with no luck. It takes a tiny, ingenious mouse to come up with the way to POP! Santa out so that Christmas can go on. Good show—ho, ho, ho!
Simon and the Bear : a Hanukkah Tale by Eric Kimmel
Stranded on an iceberg on his way to America, Simon remembers his mother’s parting words and lights the first candle on his menorah while praying for a miracle, which soon arrives in the form of a friendly polar bear.
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
On Christmas Eve, snowmen hold a party in the center of town and celebrate with food, music and dancing, and presents.
The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia C. McKissack
During the Depression, three young sisters get one baby doll for Christmas and must find a way to share.
The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David Rubel
In Depression-era New York City, construction workers at the Rockefeller Center site help a family in need–a gift that is repaid years later in the donation of an enormous Christmas tree.
The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer
In verse reminiscent of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” tells of the year the reindeer went on strike, forcing Santa to audition a series of other animals to take over their job.
The Story of Hanukkah by David Adler
An illustrated retelling of the story of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that forms the basis of the Hanukkah celebration. Includes instructions for the traditional dreidel game and a recipe for potato latkes.
Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford
While celebrating Kwanzaa and its many traditions with her parents, Kayla hopes that her big brother Khari will get home from college before the holiday is over.
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Maria tries on her mother’s wedding ring while helping make tamales for a Christmas family get-together, but when the ring turns up missing, Maria and her cousins eat up all the tamales in a frantic effort to find the ring.
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
A Japanese boy learns of Christmas when his mother decorates a pine tree with paper cranes.
Turkey Claus by Wendi Silvano
Turkey needs Santa’s help so he won’t be eaten for Christmas dinner. A favorite December read aloud to transition from November to December!
Where Did They Hide My Presents?: Silly Dilly Christmas Songs by Alan Katz
Well-known Christmas songs, including “O Christmas Tree” and “Deck the Halls,” are presented with new words and titles, such as “Toy Catalogs” and “At the Mall.”