This is one of the best times of the year to get your kids hooked on reading. There are so many wonderful books centered around the holidays.
Many of these stories are classics, but there are a few new ones on the scene that I find to be equally engaging for children.
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
The Night of Las Posadas begins in a small town outside of modern-day Santa Fe. Sister Angie, who coordinates the town’s celebration, is excited over the fact that this year her niece and nephew will play the role of Mary and Joseph in the posada. But tragedy strikes when Sister Angie comes down with the flu and Lupe and Roberto’s car breaks down in a snowstorm. It then takes a miracle to save the town’s procession.
A Pinata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora
A wonderfully imaginative story based on the popular song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, this tale follows a sweet little girl who receives fantastic gifts from her secret amiga. From dos pastelitos to seis trompos girando to ocho pajaritos serenando, this book does a great job of putting a Latin twist on the traditional carol. And the surprise ending will tie the story together nicely.
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
The retelling of the Mexican legend surrounding its native flower. In dePaola’s version, a young girl named Lucida is upset over the fact that she has nothing to offer the baby Jesus during her town’s Christmas procession. Her mother has taken ill and she and her siblings have been left in the care of a family friend. Too embarrassed to enter the church empty handed Lucida is encouraged by una viejita to give whatever she can. The only things Lucida can find are the weeds alongside the road, which she picks before entering the church to make her offering. The resulting milagro surrounding her simple gift ends the story on a meaningful note.
Carlos, Light the Farolito by Jean Ciavonne and Donna Clair
Carlos has heard the stories of las posadas navideñas. But on Christmas Eve, Carlos is dismayed to see the procession of neighbors and friends walking up to his house because his parents and grandfather aren’t home, yet. It’s up to Carlos to take over Grandfather’s role as the Innkeeper. Carlos is so frightened, he doesn’t think he can do it! Readers will applaud Carlos’s triumph over his shyness, and the joyful celebration that follows.
Merry Navidad! Christmas Carols in Spanish and English/Villancicos en espanol e ingles by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy and Vivi Escriva
This collection of villancicos and the history surrounding them captures the warmth and spirit of the holiday traditions of Latin America and Spain. The book includes both the Spanish versions – chosen by the authors—and their English adaptations written by Rosalma Zubizarreta. I especially like that her translations are not literal and choppy, but instead capture the essence of each song with rhythm and grace. The authors have also included musical arrangements for your reference. This book is simply beautiful and should be in every single Latino family’s home library collection.