Even before learning about my pregnancy, I’ve been collecting books for my future child. Of course, some of this collection includes kid-friendly mythology and history. I imagine this time of year being a bit confusing for the little one. Public schools are full of Christmas. The rest of my family celebrates Christmas, albeit some more secular than others. I wanted to find a piece of children’s literature that demonstrated the common denominator so that we can celebrate what we share rather than feel uncomfortable.
If you’re looking for a young children’s book about winter holidays, not just the Winter Solstice or Christmas, Lights of Winter by Heather Conrad is a good introduction. It’s the sort of book to read when the little one notices all the lights people are putting up. Each page introduces a different cultural holiday – Zagmuk, Yule, Saturnalia, Soyal, Teng Chieh, Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, Las Posadas, and Kwanza. Explanations are short and extremely general, and many parents and curious children may want to hit up the library for additional information. The book is a starting point; it’s not meant to be the end of discussion. The most important focus of the book is what our holidays share – coming together to celebrate using light. Be sure to have your child find the lights on each page! If you’re raising your children Pagan, spend some time talking about the Winter Solstice, Yule, and Saturnalia. Talk about how, even though the book speaks about the past, people still celebrate those. Discuss how the old and new celebrations are the same or different.
The biggest critique from Amazon customers was that the illustrations looked amateurish. They certainly aren’t the most amazing. One reviewer remarked that they appear to have been done on a simple computer paint program. That said, they get the job done, are clear, and include many details for children to think about. Perhaps challenge your child to come up with a new illustration?
I definitely suggest this book for families with younger children. Older kids will want to move on to more in-depth texts (there are a few on the Winter Solstice, several on Diwali, and Teng Chieh Of course, the major holidays will be easily located). Open-minded families who value diversity will likely get a lot out of the text provided it’s used as an introduction. It could also be dusted off and shared with the extended family each year to remind everyone of the common ground and express respect for each tradition. I think Pagan families will be especially thankful to have a winter holiday book mention Yule. It is rare to find books that do – most focus only on Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza.
If you’re interested in adding this book to your library, check it out on Amazon.
Happy winter reading!