Anti-Racism Story Time Team: Celebrate the Diversity of the Winter Holidays

December 01, 2021 | By Baltimore County Public Library

The Anti-Racism Story Time team presents picture book recommendations that celebrate the diversity of the winter holidays.

We can always be more inclusive, and books are one of the best tools to encourage empathy and open-mindedness in children. This is true year-round, including around the winter holidays.

There are many cultural holidays during the winter months. Some you may be familiar with or celebrate with your family. While others may be completely new to you and offer an opportunity for the whole family to learn together!

Be sure to join us for our Anti-Racism Story Times on the second Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. as well as the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m.

About the Titles

“Winter Candle” by Jeron Ashford 
When each family at the diverse Juniper Court apartment complex needs something to light up the dark of winter, the stumpy, lumpy candle provides a glow brighter than the fanciest taper, revealing the true spirit of each holiday it illuminates. 

“The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice” by Wendy Pfeffer 
The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the Sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history. 

“Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story” by Angela Shelf Medearis 
In an African village live seven brothers who make family life miserable with their constant fighting. When they are given the seemingly impossible task of turning thread into gold, the seven Ashanti brothers put aside their differences, learn to get along, and embody the principles of Kwanzaa. 

“Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas” by Gail Piernas-Davenport 
Shanté Keys loves New Year's Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no—it'll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors. When Shanté is sent to find black-eyed peas for her family's New Year's celebration, she learns about each of her neighbor's New Year's traditions in their home countries. 

“Sam and the Lucky Money” by Karen Chinn 
Sam is excited to be able to spend his lucky New Year’s money. He has $4 and his mom has told him he can buy anything he wants. On their trip through the neighborhood, Sam notices a homeless man with bare feet. As he contemplates how to spend his money, he gets frustrated that the $4 is never enough to buy what he wants. His mother reminds him to appreciate what he has. During a second encounter with the homeless man, Sam understands how he can best spend his money. 

“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga” by Traci Sorell 
Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their Tribal Nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small. A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. 

“Dusk” by Uri Shulevitz 
One December afternoon, a boy and his grandfather take a walk to watch the Sun begin to set over the river. When the Sun drops low in the sky, they start home. Buildings grow dimmer. People are rushing. As nature's lights go out, one by one, city's lights turn on, revealing brilliant Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas displays in streets, homes and stores. 

“The Story of Kwanzaa” by Donna L. Washington 
It's time for Kwanzaa! Light the candles on the kinara! Fly the bendera and tell stories from Africa! The seven principles of Kwanzaa, called the Nguzo Saba, serve to remind African Americans of the struggles of the past, and also focus on present-day achievements and goals for the future. The holiday fun continues with activities at the end of the book, including making your own cow-tail switch and baking benne cakes. 

“Dragon Dancer” by Joyce Chng 
It is the eve of Chinese New Year. Lanterns are hung in the shopping malls and Yao is preparing to wake the ancient sky dragon, Shen Long, from his year-long sleep. From the moment Shen Long opens his great amber eyes and unfurls his silver-blue tail, Yao will be propelled on a magical journey to battle the bad luck of the previous year and usher in the good. Will he succeed? Will his grandfather watch over him and protect him from harm? 

“Together for Kwanzaa” by Juwanda G. Ford 
Kwanzaa is Kayla's favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa?

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