“Every winter when it is Hanukkah time, I pull out Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins [by Eric A. Kimmel] a favorite from my childhood about how you can outsmart what scares you and celebrate what matters,” says Rebecca from Gresham Library. “The artwork [by illustrator Trina Schart Hyman] is beautiful and timeless.”
“The book that says winter and home to me is Tarde de invierno / Winter Afternoon, by Jorge Luján,” shares Sally from Rockwood Library. “It makes me think about waiting for special people, and the happiness of seeing them again.”
Natalia at Midland Library absolutely loves The Little Christmas Tree by Loek Koopmans, which has been translated into many languages. At this time the library has Маленькая Ёлочка, the Russian language edition, available. “I used this book for almost every outreach storytime I had during the Holiday season,” she recommends. “This is a great story about learning that the grass is not always greener on the other side.”
“The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is a classic book-without-words that elicits all the cold weather snowy adventure feelings,” recommends Rebecca from Virtual Services.
"One of my favorite holiday books that is always a joy to read aloud is Too Many Tamales / Qué montón de tamales! by Gary Soto," says Lucy from Youth Services. "It's well loved by so many Mexican families because it brings them back to how they celebrate the holidays. I'm not Mexican but as a Latina and Puerto Rican I can relate because like in the story I used to get together with my uncles, aunties and cousins and have a big fiesta/family reunion."
“I really love the illustrations in Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na,” shares Barbara from Hillsdale Library. “I also love the illustrations in this wordless book The Snow Rabbit by Camile Garouche.”
Natasha from Hollywood Library recommends Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares. “It takes place at Christmas and is set in the Christmas tree that is set up in Rockefeller Center,” she says, “but is more about the birds being separated and finding one another again than the actual holiday and features some gorgeous birds-eye perspectives of the trip into the city and the tree itself.”
“There's so much to love about Patricia Palocco's interfaith celebration of generosity and community, The Trees of the Dancing Goats,” says Rachel from Youth Services. “The rich colors of Palocco's art, and her gifted storytelling, make for a cozy book for the whole family, regardless of the holidays you celebrate.”
“I really love The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, not only for the writing but the absolutely gorgeous illustrations by [local illustrator] Carson Ellis,” recommends Carolyn from Woodstock Library. Erika from Central Library agrees. “It is just stunning, and Susan Cooper’s themes of darkness and light really resonate for me.”
Erika also recommends Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban, “an old favorite of mine, which I remember my mom reading to me, perhaps because the place we lived was a lot like the setting of the book. It's about hard times and making ends meet in a snowy backwoods town, and taking comfort in the company of friends and family when you've got little else. It might be a little grim for today's kids - Dad has died! Everyone's getting laid off! No one has electricity! But then again, it's been a hard year for a lot of people, and Emmet and his mother do have some good luck in the end. I think this was made into a Muppet special that I haven't seen.” (editor's note: here’s a link to check out the Muppet special)
“A favorite around my house is the beautiful Christmas story in Toot & Puddle: Let it Snow, by Holly Hobbie,” recommends Darrel from Central Library. “It celebrates the true spirit of gift giving and calls out some universal truths about love and friendship.”
Holly also recommends A Little Bit of Winter by Paul Stewart, a favorite from when her children were small. “It is a wonderful story of Rabbit finding a way to share winter with his friend, Hedgehog, who hibernates during the cold. The illustrations are very sweet, and the friendship message tied into a story about accessibility and shared experience is lovely.”
“Once our kids became teens, our holiday traditions changed a bit,” remembers Brianne from the Woodstock Library. “For years, we listened to Elaine Stritch's fantastically gravelly narration of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Now we also read aloud David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" (from Holidays on Ice). They are both hilarious.”
“I wish I could find a book about one of my favorite winter events from my childhood,” shares Ekatrina from the Holgate Library. “Slaviq (also called Slaavi, Slaaviq, or just ‘starring') is, for lack of a better term, a carolling tradition among Alaska Native Orthodox Christians -- people follow elaborately decorated spinning stars representing the star of Bethlehem from house to house. Songs in Yup'ik, Aleut, Cupik, Slavonic, and Ukrainian are sung, and there are prayers for the departed and for the people living in each house. Food is served, and small gifts are given to adults (think socks, soup bowls, wash cloths) and the kids get candy. In my mom's village it takes days -- sometimes all week -- to get to all the houses signed up to have the star visit them. It's a lot of fun. But I don't see that anyone has written a juvenile title about it. I would buy one if they did!”
Do you have a winter celebration that has yet to be written about? We would love to hear more about it. Just in case you’d like to also write a book about it, next year The Library Writers Project plans to accept a new round of submissions for both youth and adult books. Someday, in a future edition of Season’s Readings, we hope to share favorite books about Slaviq and many other celebrations that we’re not able to read about in our holiday collections (yet).