New Review Tuesday: The Winter Holidays
Winter holidays can be a sticky issue in the classroom—I know many schools don't acknowledge them at all, in which case holiday books may not be appropriate. Other schools go for the inclusive approach, honoring Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and any other traditions that may be recognized by students and their families.
I wrote about snowy stories in the November/December issue of Instructor, so you may want to check those out if your school falls into the first camp. But if you plan on talking about winter holidays in the coming weeks, here are three picture books that may be helpful:
All I Want for Christmas, written and illustrated by Deborah Zemke, puts a playful spin on the classic holiday tune "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." In Zemke's version, various animals list their Christmas wishes: the snake wants a body-warmer, the rooster is yearning for an alarm clock, and the frog wants his own lilypad. The story lends itself naturally to a writing exercise—why not ask students to write about what other animals want for the holidays?
The Hanukkah Mice, written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Michelle Shapiro, follows a sweet family of rodents that spend each night of the eight-day holiday exploring a dollhouse—a present to the young girl that lives in the house where the mice make their home. Something new appears in the dollhouse each night, culminating in a miracle appropriately scaled to the size of our heroes.
Night of the Moon, by Hena Khan, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, explores the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid through the eyes of seven-year-old Yasmeen. Yasmeen is a Pakistani-American, and her view of the festivities is both modern and timeless. Paschkis's beautiful illustrations add to the celebratory feel.
What holiday books do you use in the classroom? Or does your school skip the holiday celebrations?