Multicultural Books for Christmas

Christmas is a time that brings people together. Every year families from many different cultures and ethnicities celebrate Christmas across America and all over the world.

19 Multicultural Kids Books for ChristmasI’ve assembled a list of 20 ethnically and culturally diverse Christmas stories for children ages 3-10. Each of these books will give readers a glimpse of the different ways that families celebrate Christmas, as well as the similarities that we all share. I hope you’ll consider sharing one (or more!) of these lovely Christmas books with a child in your life this year.

Too Many TamalesToo Many Tamales by Gary Soto

In this sentimental family story, a girl lands herself in a predicament while helping her mother make tamales for Christmas dinner. (Ages 4+)

12 Days of ChristmasThe 12 Days of Christmas by Rachel Isadora

This retelling of the classic Christmas tale is set in Africa. The gorgeously detailed collage illustrations are lively and bright. (All ages)

Legend of the PoinsettiaThe Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

Warm, colorful illustrations accent this retelling of the Mexican legend of the Poinsettia. (Ages 5+)

Pablo's ChristmasPablo’s Christmas by Hugo C. Martin

In this uplifting story, a young boy living on a farm in Mexico works to make Christmas special for his mother and sisters while their father is away working in America. (Ages 4+)

Christmas Around the WorldChristmas Around the World by Mary D. Lankford

This fascinating book describes how Christmas is celebrated in twelve different countries, including Italy, Australia, Guatemala, Germany, and Ethiopia. Children and adults will love discovering the differences – and similarities – between Christmas customs around the world. The book also includes Christmas crafts, Christmas facts, and a pronunciation guide. (Ages 7+)

Yoon and the Christmas MittenYoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits

When Yoon, a Korean immigrant, hears about Christmas for the first time at her new American school, she is intrigued. But her parents reject the idea. “We are not a Christmas family,” says her mother. Can Yoon persuade her parents to give Christmas a chance? (Ages 4+)

N is for NavidadN is for Navidad by Joe Cepeda

This energetic rhyming picture book depicts the many aspects of a traditional Latino Christmas celebration. Every letter of the alphabet introduces readers to a new Spanish word associated with the holiday. The book also includes a glossary of the Spanish terms used. (Ages 3+)

Grandma's GiftGrandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez

Every year, Eric spends his school break with his grandmother and helps her to prepare a traditional Puerto Rican dinner for Christmas Eve. This memoir of the author’s own childhood tells a touching story of a boy’s special bond with his grandmother. (Ages 4+)

Tree of CranesTree of Cranes by Allen Say

While a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother spends the day folding tiny paper cranes. Later, they use the paper cranes to decorate the boy’s first Christmas tree and his mother shares stories of her childhood Christmases in America. (Ages 5+)

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas DollThe All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia C. McKissack

Set during the Great Depression, Nella writes a letter to Santa asking for the doll she’s wished for all year. When her Christmas wish comes true, Nella wants the doll all to herself. But as Christmas day wears on, Nella misses the company of her two sisters and decides that sharing the doll is more fun than playing alone. (Ages 4+)

An Angel Just Like MeAn Angel Just Like Me by Mary Hoffman

Tyler wonders why all Christmas angels look like pink-skinned girls and sets out to find an angel that looks just like him. (Ages 5+)

La Noche BuenaLa Noche Buena: A Christmas Story by Antonio Sacre

A young girl spends Christmas with her Cuban grandmother and learns all about the traditions of La Noche Buena – Christmas Eve. (Ages 3+)

Growing Up with TamalesGrowing Up With Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Young Ana looks forward to growing older and being given more responsibility in making the tamales for her family’s Christmas dinner. This book is completely bilingual, with the story in English on the upper half of each page and in Spanish on the lower half. (Ages 3+)

Mim's Christmas JamMim’s Christmas Jam by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Mim and her two children are alone during the Christmas season while her husband is away digging for the subway system. But when Mim sends him a jar of her special Christmas jam, something unexpected happens. (Ages 3+)

The Christmas CoatThe Christmas Coat by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

In this poignant story of generosity, a Native American girl longs for a new coat for Christmas. (Ages 5+)

‘Twas Nochebuena‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

This lively bilingual tale is set to the rhythm of “The Night Before Christmas.” The story follows a modern-day Mexican family as they celebrate Nochebuena with tamales, champurrado, and plenty of good cheer! (Ages 3+)

The Night of Las PosadasThe Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola’s distinctive style shines through in this story of the southwestern Christmas tradition of Las Posadas, a procession in which townspeople re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter on the night Jesus was born. (Ages 6+)

Kirsten's SurpriseKirsten’s Surprise (American Girl) by Janet Shaw

Kirsten and her family, pioneers on the Minnesota frontier, prepare for their first Christmas since coming to America from Sweden. Wanting to keep some of their Sweden traditions alive, Kirsten secretly plans a celebration for Saint Lucia’s Day. This book gives a fascinating glimpse into Swedish holiday customs. (Ages 7+)

Josefina's SurpriseJosefina’s Surprise (American Girl) by Valerie Tripp

Josefina and her three sisters struggle to get through the Christmas season without their mother on their 1820s Santa Fe ranch. The heartwarming story gives readers a terrific view at how families in Mexico and the American southwest celebrate Christmas. (Ages 7+)

Addy's SurpriseAddy’s Surprise (American Girl) by Connie Porter

Nine-year-old Addy and her mother, former slaves, celebrate their first Christmas as free people. Addy saves her pennies to buy a scarf for her mother, but then worries that she should donate the money to newly freed slaves in need. This is a moving story of selflessness and hope in hard times. (Ages 7+)

22 Comments

  1. Great choices! I remember reading quite a few of these when I was little.

  2. Thank you for the great list of Christmas themed picture book resources. As i was discussing with my professor last night the topic of picture books in the classroom we got into talking about how some picture books can perpetuate cultural stereotypes. Did you find that any of the picture books listed above display cultures in a stereotypical way?

    • Definitely not. I carefully chose the books on this list because they portray each culture in an honest, positive manner. Thanks for your comment!

  3. This is a great list Katie. Thank you for putting it together.
    Hopping over from the kidlit bloghop.

  4. This is a thoughtful and important list, as you’re right about there being a strong lack of diversity in the Christmas world. As the author of “The Santa Switch,” a gender-empowering, award-winning book series about a modern-day Mrs. Claus, I’ve been acutely aware of this issue. To that end, my illustrator and I not only consciously work to change the under-representation of strong female role models in “Santa’s” world; we’re also working to make sure there are a variety of skin and eye colors throughout the illustrations, to better represent the reality of the REAL world. Anyway, equality is an issue that’s personally dear to my heart, so thank you for the enlightening — and fun — post! 🙂

  5. what a beautiful post! I found you on the blog hop too. You should check out DiversifYA on twitter if you haven’t seen it. Diversity in all books is a great idea.

  6. stanleyandkatrina says:

    What a fantastic list, Katie! Thank you for assembling it.
    Thanks for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop.
    Have a wonderful rest of the week,
    Christine M/Cool Mom

  7. Thanks so much. I have pinned this great resource.

  8. What a great list! I’ve also pinned this as a great resource.

  9. Katie that is an AWESOME list! This is def, going on my pinterest board! Its so good to see multicultural books for a Christmas theme.. I am off to stock my hold shelf 🙂
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

  10. Katie, it is just astounding to me the depth of your children’s literature knowledge. Thanks so much for a truly wonderful list of diverse books and of course, always great to host with you on the Kid Lit blog Hop

  11. What a nice list for holiday reading and gift ideas!! I am particularly interested in “Yoon and the Christmas” since I saw lots of similar situations in Chinese immigrant families. I am curious in how Yoon succeeded!

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful list on Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  12. Dropping in from the Hop. You did a great job with this list, thank you for sharing. It’s nice to see from new faces on Christmas books!

  13. This is a great list which I’m going to pin. I particularly want to get Addy’s Suprise to read to my children. Very pleased to have discovered this list on the Kidlitbloghop.

  14. Happy to see Addy and Tomie dePaola on here. I also can’t recommend The Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett enough. Some of the most intricate illustrations of all time and it smacks you in the face with its rich, cultural heritage. There was another book I read as a kid that took place in Russia maybe. It was about a family that lets a stranger (probably Romani) stay in their barn for the night. One of the kids sneaks out to bring them a blanket and finds he’s left a Christmas star. I can’t remember the title though. The Traveler’s Gift maybe? Or The Stranger’s Gift? Something like that.

  15. Such a fabulous list to have with the holiday season just starting! Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews says:

    This is a fantastic list – thanks for sharing it in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I find that sometimes at this time of year, there will be discussions about the different ways different cultures celebrate the holidays, but I love how you focus on how different cultures celebrate one holiday, Christmas. Love it! Pinning!!

  18. Awesome list. Thanks for sharing. I liked and shared it on my Learning Center’s Facebook page.

  19. Thanks for linking to our Multicultural Children’s Book Day linky Katie! Sharing your post far and wide! Love, love LOVE your list!

  20. thanks for this interesting list of Christmas books! am now following you 🙂

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