With Christmas exactly a month away, here are ten Christmas picture books that help us reflect on some of the different ways that cultures celebrate Christmas around the world. From storks in baobab trees to origami cranes in fir trees, from fire dancers to parang bands – all of these stories are eye-opening and wonderfully festive! Perfect to get you in the mood for Christmas.
A book that explores the traditional Mexican tale of how the first poinsettia came to be, transporting readers to Old-World Mexico and a young girl who discovers a Christmas miracle.
A Stork in a Baobab Tree: An African 12 Days of Christmas by Catherine House (author) and Polly Alakija (illustrator)
Told in verse inspired by the traditional carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, this is the story of a Christmas steeped in the atmosphere of African village life, where villagers prepare for a celebration – the birth of a child.
Two Cans of Corned Beef and a Manulele in a Mango Tree by Sarona Aiono-Iosefa (author) and Steven Dunn (illustrator)
Also told in verse to the tune of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, this Pacific Island story by a Samoan author fills the pages with Christmas icons from tropical island life.
Federico and the Magi’s Gift: A Latin American Christmas Story by Beatriz Vidal
It’s the eve of the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Three Kings, and that means the Three Wise Men, or Magi, will ride through the night sky to deliver gifts to children. Four-year-old Federico has misbehaved…will the Magi leave him any presents? A heart-warming Latin American Christmas story.
An Ellis Island Christmas by Maxinne Rhea Leighton (author) and Dennis Nolan (illustrator)
A Polish family migrates to America on the eve of Christmas – a story that powerfully evokes the uncertainty, wonder, and hope of a young immigrant’s experience.
O Christmas Tree by Vashanti Rahaman (author) and Frané Lessac (illustrator)
Anslem longs for a traditional white Christmas and a ‘proper’ Christmas tree, but when it becomes apparent that these have no place in the Craibbean landscape, Anslem must learn to appreciate his own holiday traditions and the unique magic of a West Indian Christmas.
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
As a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother busily folds origami paper into delicate silver cranes to decorate their Christmas tree, blending American and Japanese traditions in a joyous celebration of both cultures.
The Christmas Gift: El regalo de Navidad by Francisco Jiménez (author) and Claire B. Cotts (illustrator)
As Christmas approaches, Panchito can’t wait to see what present he gets. But on Christmas Day, he is disappointed…until he sees the gift his father gives his mother. A Hispanic Christmas story that shows us that gifts of the heart
are the most precious of all.
The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (author) and Ellen Butler (illustrator)
A Native American Christmas story based on a true story. Virginia’s coat is too small and hardly protects her from the frigid South Dakota winter. When the Christmas boxes arrive, Virginia spots a beautiful grey coat but holds back tears as it is claimed by one of her classmates…but little does she know what her mother has in store for her.
An Island Christmas by Lynn Joseph (author) and Catherine Stock (illustrator)
Rosie’s preparations for Christmas on the island of Trinidad include picking red petals for the sorrel drink, and singing along with the parang band – a true Island Christmas, Caribbean style.
If you are interested in multicultural children’s books, please take a look at our picture book titles, perfect for Christmas gifts!