Nick’s Picks: So Many Holidays, So Little Time

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with TeachingBooks.net. Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

Students study the holidays celebrated in families and communities around the world to learn about traditions and cultures different from their own, and to honor the diversity in their own communities. For young students, literature is often a portal into these cultural explorations.

TeachingBooks.net’s database contains thousands of multimedia resources about the books and authors studied in K­–12 environments. In this post, we are pleased to offer a selection of materials to expand discussions about holidays throughout the school year.

Ramadan

 

“Celebrating Ramadan and Eid” from Colorin Colorado

Reference this thematic booklist to get ideas of books about Islam to share with students.

 

 

Rosh Hashanah

 

Eli Remembers by Ruth Vander Zee, Marian Sneider, and Bill Farnsworth (Eerdmans Book, 2007)

Utilize these questions and activities to explore the themes of Jewish history and traditions.

 

Halloween and El dia de los muertos

 

Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Henry Holt, 2006)

Watch illustrator Yuyi Morales explain the differences and similarities between these two holidays in this original TeachingBooks.net movie.

 

Thanksgiving

 

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac (National Geographic Society, 2001)

Use this weeklong lesson plan to unravel myths commonly associated with Thanksgiving.

 

Hanukkah

 

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (Holiday House, 1989)

Enjoy these ready-to-use activity sheets and discussion questions for this brave-hearted story.

 

Winter Solstice

 

A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King, illustrated by Gary Clement (Groundwood. 2009)

Listen to author Thomas King discuss why he wrote this book about a traditional trickster and share a reading from the story.

 

Christmas

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, 1985)

Explore this collection of nearly a dozen online resources—including a Storyline Online video reading of the book narrated by Lou Diamond Phillips.

 

Kwanzaa

Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Dial, 1993)

Watch this one-minute video excerpt from Weston Woods’ animated version of the book to introduce some of the history and rituals of Kwanzaa.

 

New Year’s

Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport, illustrated by Marion Eldridge (Albert Whitman, 2007)

Find here a marvelously detailed activity guide and a reader’s theater script to help teach this book in your classroom.

 Chinese New Year

 

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin (Knopf, 2008)

Utilize these discussion questions and book recommendations to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

 

Valentine’s Day

 

Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus (Random House 1999)

Listen to this brief excerpt, read by Lana Quintal, as the young protagonist shares her experiences on this day of friendship and love.

 

Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Executive Director of TeachingBooks.net

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