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  • Kim Bogren Owen

Three Holidays, A Hundred Ways to Celebrate

Celebrations take many different forms during the holiday season, and no two families celebrate exactly alike even when they observe the same holiday. There are commonalities though and treasured traditions that we all share. One of these treasured traditions for many families includes reading holiday tales to celebrate the magic and wonder of the season. Here are a few books that honor the many different ways December holidays are enjoyed.

Tomie DePaolo beautiful books, The Legend of Old Befana, The Legend of the Poinsettia, and The Night of Las Posadas, share Christmas legends from around the world. The Legend of Old Befana retells an Italian Christmas story of an old woman who is always searching for the baby Jesus; The Legend of the Poinsettia tells how poinsettia's came to be a part of our Christmas celebrations, and The Night of Las Posadas tells a story of Las Posadas.

In Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson and Melissa Iwai, a young girl yearns for her home in Sweden after moving to the United States, especially after her mother tells her they won't have time to celebrate Saint Lucia's Day. However, with the help of a Tomten who arrived by accident in a package sent by her Grandmother, she is able to find home here.

A spirited Jamela kidnaps (chickennaps?) the chicken they have been raising for Christmas dinner because she does not want to "eat a friend" in What's Cooking, Jamela? by Niki Daly. A hilarious chase ensues and ends with a lovely, but chickenless, Christmas dinner.

Cowboy Night before Christmas by James Rice adds a cowboy, Southwestern twist to the old poem. Read this alongside the traditional version of A Night before Christmas and add A Cajun Night before Christmas by "Trosclair" and Howard Jacobs to explore how stories are adapted by the culture reading them.

In Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou, she recites her poem telling of her hope for finding true peace in the Christmas season. Lovely illustrations light up this book and bring the warmth of the story to life. This book includes a CD of the author reading the poem.

Seven brothers spend their lives fighting and competing with one another until their father dies and leaves the task of converting 7 spools of thread into gold together. If they fail their inheritance will be given to the poor in their village. Will they succeed in Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis and Daniel Minter?

In Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblin by Eric Kimmel, Hershel must defeat goblins that terrorize a village's temple preventing Hanukkah from being celebrated. One by one he outsmarts them, but on the last night will he be able to trick the King of the Goblins into lighting the candles himself?

Letter on the Wind: A Chanukah Tale by Sarah Marwil Lamstein and Neil Waldman tells the story of Hayim who has the scribe write a letter to the Almighty asking for enough oil for Chanukah when the villages olive trees wither. He lets it go in a strong wind which delivers it to a wealthy merchant who realizes that the Almighty has assigned him the task of fulfilling the request. He does, but in doing so, Hayim is accused of being a thief. The misunderstanding is cleared up once the merchant visits the Hayim and the village, and he is recognized as the giver of the gifts. Share this wonderful story of giving and faith with your family this holiday season.

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have finding them! Happy Holidays! As always, feel free to share with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen on Facebook, your website, or in your newsletter. Please add your recommendations for additional books about the holidays and the unique ways your family celebrates them in the comments.

(This blog uses the Amazon affiliate program so when you click on the title and purchase through Amazon, you are supporting us! If you don't purchase through these links, please, be sure to support your local, independent bookstore or find them at your library!)

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